Dacia Vienna Vikings HC Chris Calaycay discusses semifinal matchup with Prague Black Panthers

Dacia Vienna Vikings head coach Chris Calaycay is no stranger to playoff football.

Since taking over as head coach of the Vikings in 2004, 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.

On Sunday, he leads Dacia Vienna into a semifinal matchup against the surging Prague Black Panthers, but took the time from his preparations to answer a few questions about how the Vikings look and how he and his staff are getting them ready to face the Black Panthers.

AFI: You have reached the AFL semifinals every year but one since 2004. You have only lost three times in that time span. Do you feel any extra pressure?

Calaycay: No extra pressure. The only thing that we are focused in is if we can play to the best of our abilities. We have to earn our way into the Austrian Bowl. It isn’t given and the Panthers aren’t coming to Vienna to lose.

AFI: You have only played Prague once before, in 2014, in the semifinal round and you beat them that year and moved on to win the final.

Calaycay: This isn’t 2014 and only three players are on our roster that were there in 2014. This team needs to keep the tradition of Vikings football going. It is always a work in progress each season.

AFI: The Black Panthers have the best rushing offense and defense in the league. How do you prepare for Gamboa and Potts?

Calaycay: Prague is physical, no question. They want to run the ball on offense and beat you up front on defense. We have to make sure we see what is coming on offense and take what they give us. On defense we can’t take a down off and we have to play our responsibilities and be physical.

AFI: You are first in the league defending the pass while Prague has the worst passing offense. Will you play closer to the line of scrimmage.

Calaycay: Well we lead the league in passing because of our front. It all works together. We need to make sure that we stop the run to get them in passing situations. If we do this we can have success on those crucial third downs.

AFI: In both games against them this year, you only allowed them to cross midfield a total of five times. What will you do different in this game?

Calaycay: I hope we don’t have to much differently. We had two good outings vs Prague but this is the playoffs and the only game that matters right now. We need to obviously stop the run and not allow a big play to get past us. Scheme wise we need to execute our run fits, kick the ball carrier to our help and be physical when we strike the ball carrier. No secrets, get after the ball.

AFI: Austin Herink has had an excellent season. With Andrew Spencer playing so well as running back, will you attack Prague any differently than in the last two games against them?

Calaycay: Austin has been great but we have been trying to find the right formula to mix Andrew in the offense. He has been a DB but because of injury we have used him on offense more at RB. We will distribute the ball because we still have a talented wide receiver Corps with Bernhard Seikovits and company and we get a boost with getting our second and third leading receivers, Maurice Wappl and Yannick Mayr back from injury.

AFI: Is everyone healthy?

Calaycay: I kind of answered it with the previous questions. We have had our injury issues this season but everyone has those. The guys on the field have to step up.

AFI: How much of a difference does it make playing at home in a playoff game?

Calaycay: Playing at home is a huge advantage. The game is recently been moved to the Ravelintraing facility where we practice. So we will be playing for our fans on the field that we train on every day.  We always have a tough environment for opposing teams

American Football International is your source for news and updates about American Football outside the United States!