Dacia Vienna Vikings RB Andrew Spencer looking for 1st championship title in Austrian Bowl XXXV

Dacia Vienna Vikings running back Andrew Spencer is getting ready to face his biggest challenge since his youth football days when the Vikings take on the defending Austrian champions, the Swarco Raiders, Saturday, July 27 in Austrian Bowl XXXV.

The former Winona State defensive back, who was a first team All American in his senior year, arrived partway through the season. It didn’t take head coach Chris Calaycay and his staff long to figure out that not only was Spencer an excellent defensive back, but that he could also run with the ball too. He saw spot duty late in the season scoring three touchdowns. But an injury to starting running back Islaam Amadou, made the decision easy and with two games left in the regular season, Spencer was suddenly the starting running back.

He wasted no time. In his first full game as a starter against the Danube Dragons, he exploded for 207 yards on 21 carries, scoring two touchdowns, The following week against the Steelsharks he needed only 12 carries to rush for 219 yards, scoring five touchdowns! Then, in the semifinal win over Prague, he rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Photo: Hannes Jirgal

He has definitely had an impact.

In three games he amassed almost 550 yards rushing, and scored eight touchdowns.

However, although Spencer has played in some big games in his high school and college career, never since his youth football days has he played in a championship game. So Austrian Bowl XXXIII has some extra significance for him.

Is this your first championship game?

Spencer: I have won championships in youth football but since high school, although my teams have gone far, they haven’t gone all the way, so this will be my first. I am dying to get a ring and put it on my finger.

Swarco Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah has said you are one of the most explosive players they have had to face this year, so they need to keep you under control.

Spencer: That’s very nice of him and after the game I may thank him but right now we are enemies

The game has a later than usual kickoff, 7 pm. Many players prefer the usual, earlier start time of 3 or 4 so they don’t have to wait. What do you prefer?

Spencer: To me ‘when the lights are on, they are on. All I care about is when the lights go on, who’s going to show up. I am the kind of guy who shows up. I am excited to be there but I am also ready.

How much pressure do you feel going into this game?

Spencer: I am not the type of person who feels pressure nor do I need pressure to fuel me. We are highly motivated going into this game and we are determined to win. I believe that we have to rely on our strengths and to play what we practiced. I think we perform best when we stay focused, act disciplined, bring energy and have fun playing together as a team. We will see the results when the game is over. I don’t want to end this season empty-handed. I want to return to the US as a Champion.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.