Dacia Vienna Vikings head coach Chris Calaycay has returned his team to the Austrian Bowl for the 13th time since taking over the head coaching reins in 2004.
Since then, he has guided his teams to the Austrian Football League semifinals 14 times and advanced them to the Austrian Bowl 12 times, winning the title seven times. He is the longest tenured head coach in Europe.
Add to this the fact that these two teams have played each other for the Austrian title seven times since 2011 with Vienna holding a 4-3 edge. They split the last two with the Vikings winning in 2017 and Swarco in 2018 on a last minute field goal.
We asked Coach Calaycay about past records and preparations for the biggest game of the season.
AFI: This is your 13th trip to the Austrian Bowl since taking over as head coach. Does this one feel any different?
Calaycay: Each team and each year is different. But the experience is always the same. It is playing for a championship and adding to the legacy of our program and the history that we have established.
AFI: You trailed at halftime in the semifinal against the Prague Black Panthers but basically shut down their vaunted running offense in the second half, by eliminating defensive mistakes and getting back to the fundamentals. The Raiders present a different challenge. What are the keys on defense?
Calaycay: Defensive principles need to stay in place for us, stop the run, create turnovers, prevent the big play and be great on 3rd down. Obviously, the Raiders have a good offense and weapons, but if there is a defense that can stop them then it is this one. We have to go out and do it in this game.
AFI: You have lost to Swarco all three times you have played them this year. Do you worry about your players falling into the mindset of ‘we can’t beat these guys’?
Calaycay: This is a new game, we play the Raiders so often,and have done since I have been here, that each game is new and can go either way. That is the mindset, it’s a new game, a championship game.
AFI: Andrew Spencer has developed into a legitimate threat running with the ball. He seems just as good running off tackle as in the open field. How much pressure does he take off of your quarterback, Austin Herink?
Calaycay: We made the decision about six weeks ago to move Andrew over to the offensive side. We needed a boost in the run game and he certainly has done that. He has been great catching the ball as well. For Austin, he is another weapon and frees up our receivers Bernhard Seikovits, Maurice Wappl and Yannick Mayr as well.
AFI: Is the team healthy after a very physical game in the semifinals?
Calaycay: As healthy as we can be. That is just football.
AFI: Raiders quarterback Sean Shelton is a great game manager and can surprise you when he runs. Can you do anything special to keep him under control?
Calaycay: I’m sure that Sean would liked to be described as a game manager. He is great for the Raiders. Being there year round in his 4th season he has a great command of the offense and knowledge of the league and the defenses we present. Like any QB you have to get some hits on them and create some indecision. He does a great job of knowing went to run with it as well so we need to be able to defend the whole field.
AFI: You have played the Raiders seven times in the Austrian Bowl since 2011 and won five of those games, most recently two years ago. Does that kind of record have any bearing on this year’s game?
Calaycay: 5 of 7 is nice but only 2019 counts on Sat.
AFI: You are the underdogs in this year’s game. Does that take some of the pressure off?
Calaycay: The goal is to win the championship and playing to the highest level that we can on Sat. Living up to others expectations,if we are underdogs or favorites, is not something we concern ourselves with. Play hard, play smart, play fast, have fun. Those are our goals.