Spain: Badalona Dracs players, coaches reflect on season following midseason break

After three-consecutive weeks of games and practices, the Badalona Dracs finally received an opportunity to breathe thanks to a bye week that arrived right at the halfway point of the 2023 season.

With the second half of the 2023 season set to kick off in Zaragoza on March 5, coaches and players reflected on the team’s commanding 4-0 start and discussed how they took advantage of the week “off.”

“It was great timing to have that bye week,” Dracs offensive coordinator Xavi Gonzalo said. “We had three games in a row, which is very unusual here in Spain, so some players had some small bruises and fatigue to deal with.”

The Dracs’ coaching staff utilized the extra time by jumping on video calls to watch film and compare their own evaluations of the season so far, something they never have time for during the week-to-week grind of the LNFA Serie A season.

Badalona Dracs breakdown after practice Photo: Gabriel Rubert Rado

As a bonus, because of the league’s scheduling –– in which every team plays each other twice, once in each half of the season –– reviewing film serves as opponent scouting in addition to self-evaluation.

“Sometimes you get carried away when you have game after game and maybe you didn’t have time to see something such as what plays you run out of different formations,” Gonzalo said. “Maybe we need to change some things or think there are things we haven’t shown that much.”

Players, meanwhile, took advantage of the rest, spending time with family and friends and indulging in activities normally difficult to do during the constant flow of the season.

“In my free time, I like to go out and try different places to eat and try new things,” Erik Figueroa said. “I also visited more of Barcelona; I like to visit Las Ramblas and walk along there to the sea.”

Following Badalona’s 17-6 win against the Mallorca Voltors on Feb. 19, Figueroa took 24 hours off before returning to the gym to ensure he stayed in shape during the short break. Spurred on by defensive coordinator Victor Perez, who stayed on top of his defenders with constant reminders to work out, the defensive lineman’s training regime included biking and individual workouts.

Badalona Dracs DC Victor Perez giving team peptalk Photo: Gabriel Rubert Rado

Figuero’s defensive teammate, Mario Perez, also took plenty of time to review film from the first half of the season.

“I have seen good things,” Perez said. “I have liked everything that I have seen, but of course there are also areas we will have to improve, too.”

Perez said he picked up on how the defense needs to further improve at keeping its eyes focused on the right areas of the field as well as the need to read the opposing offense more quickly, but not play too fast.

“We have a lot to improve,” Figueroa said. “We need to have more discipline to not jump when the ball is snapped and to feel which way the quarterback is escaping.”

Without a game, several Dracs players watched some of the weekend’s other LNFA games being played across Spain. Perez checked in on potential playoff opponents from the league’s western conference, including the Rivas Osos and Black Demons. What did he pick up as a spectator?

“All the defenses in this league are very good,” Perez said. “In general, they don’t concede a lot of points.”

The Dracs were back at practice on Monday in preparation for their final four regular-season games. Following its game in Zaragoza this Sunday, Badalona returns home to host L’Hospitalet Pioners on March 11, travels to Valencia on March 26 and closes its regular season with a showdown against the Voltors on April 1.