Czech American Football League underway

The Czech American Football League has launched its 2019 season with one major change.

The Prague Black Panthers, winners of the past six titles, have opted to play only in the Austrian Football League.

With this, eight teams will compete in 2019 for the Czech Bowl XXVI title, divided into two conferences, the West and East. The West Conference will include the Prague Lions, Pilsen Patriots, Pardubice Stallions and Usti nad Labem Blades. The East Conference will contain the Ostrava Steelers, Brno Alligators, Brno Sigrs and Vysocina Gladiators.

The Blades and Gladiators are both newcomers to the top league.

East Conference

Brno Sigrs (2018: 4-6)

The Sigrs reached the Czech league semifinals in 2018 after posting a 4-6 regular season record. They were eliminated by the Black Panthers 63-0 and will be looking for improvement in 2019 with the powerhouse team in the league gone. Head coach Petr Švanda has brought in quarterback Wesley Geisler (Kansas Wesleyan University) and re-signed LB/RB Tyrone Clark.

Ostrava Steelers (2018: 7-3, Finalists)

Czech Bowl finalists two years in a row, the Steelers finished the 2018 season with a 7-3 record. They defeated the Prague Lions 31-24 in the semifinals, but were no match for the Prague Black Panthers losing 30-7 in the final. The Steelers have signed quarterback Randall Schroeder (who is out for two weeks or so) who played for the Danish champion Copenhagen Towers in 2018. Head coach is Garrett Griffeth.

Brno Alligators (2018: 3-7)

The Alligators finished the 2018 season with a 3-7 record. It was their first season in the Czech Republic’s top league since 2015. New head coach John Stevenson, who spent last year with the Luzern Lions in Switzerland and coached in Denmark with the Horsen Stallions and Amager Demons, has added DB Will Bartells (New Zealand) as the team’s only import.

Vysocina Gladiators (New to the league)

The Gladiators are one of two teams from the Czech second league to move up and new defensive coordinator Gerhard Hochreiter should help. He has coached with numerous club teams as well as the Team Austria, both senior and junior squads. The team has re-signed WR Josh Purdie and brought in QB Reggia Langford who played for Pardubice Stallions two years ago, leading the league in passing.

West Conference

Prague Lions (2018: 7-3, Semifinalists)

The Prague Lions reached the semifinals in 2018 but stumbled losing to the Ostrava Steelers in a close game. Finishing the regular season with a 7-3 record they had expected more. Under new head coach Zach Harrod  has signed QB Mike Hayes (Moravian College) , WR Ashley Bailey and TE Archie Stevens (Solent Redhawks, GB) as well as LB Joel McCandless (Jacksonville State University ). His new DC is Dan Disch, former HC with the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes in the German Football League. With a 7-0 win over Ostrava already under their belts, the Lions look poised to challenge for the Czech title.

Pardubice Stallions (2018: 4-6)

The Pardubice Stallions won three of their last four games in 2018 and look to be much improved for 2019. They have signed  QB Ray Catapano (Southern Connecticut State University, Div. II), along with DB/WR Greg Williams (Ouachita Baptist University) who played for the Allgäu Comets in the German Football League in 2016/17 and the Nyíregyháza Tigers in the Hungarian top league in 2018.

Pilsen Patriots (2018: 0-10)

The Patriots have nowhere to go but up after a dismal 2018 season which saw them lose every game. New head coach Jesse Thompson has signed QB Ryan Pahos, who played for the Cottbush Crayfish in the GFL2 in 2018 and the Jagodina Black Hornets from Serbia’s top league. He has also added DB Anthony Ratliff (New Mexico Highlands University).

Usti nad Labem Blades (New to the league)

Head coach Daniel Leško (Czech national team and Prague Black Panthers) focused on defense in preparing for the Blades first year in the Czech Republic’s top league. He signed LB Charles Dieuseul (Mount Union University), who played for the Vienna Vikings in 2017 helping them win the Austrian title, and will be relying on young Czech QB Pavel Mráz to lead the offense.

Graphics: Igor Lazarevic

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