Euro-Football Roadtrip: Thoughts on Coaching – Ravensburg Razorbacks v. Pforzheim Wilddogs

First impressions are sometimes misleading.

After our first game, I wrote about the dead atmosphere, the strange field with no lines or time clock, the sloppy play and the unusual pre and post game rituals. I’m afraid I didn’t do the Euro-game justice.

This Sunday against the Pforzheim Wilddogs was completely different. I know some of my positivity is the result of an outstanding offensive performance; (something that tends to put an offensive coordinator in a happy place), but Sunday felt like good, exciting football in California, Nevada or even Texas.

It starts with the location.

The Ravensburg Razorbacks played our first game at Lindenhofstadiun. Nobody will mistake Lindenhof for Cowboy Stadium, but it’s a gigantic step up from our former home at a glorified practice field. With 900 covered seats, locker rooms, a good sound system and over 1,000 fans in attendance, the energy was great…Still no game clock, but you can’t have everything.

It was a beautiful afternoon for football and, for once, the Razorbacks started well. Our first scoring drive took five plays (a hitch to Joris Strobel), our second three (a run by Garett Colao). The tempo was set and we didn’t let up all half. All five of our first-half possessions resulted in touchdowns. Our defense was great as well, holding the Wilddogs to one score.

Razorbacks 35-6 at the half on the way to a 42-6 win.

Razorbacks vs. Wilddogs 4

What makes football wins more special than victories in other sports is the amount of effort that goes into a single game. Each game is a culmination of thousands of man-hours and weeks of preparation.

Here, this is compounded by the organization of the actual event.

The team is responsible for marketing the game to the community, for lining the field, for setting up and manning concession stands. Pulling off a successful event is rewarding in its own right… ending it with a convincing win just makes it that much sweeter.

Razorbacks vs. Wilddogs 2
As for the football, this wasn’t just a case of one team being overwhelmed. We played well. Our quarterback, Garret Colao, passed accurately, but more importantly, almost always made the right decision, the most important attribute for a QB in our scheme.

Safety Jeremy Stewart picked off two passes. During the half I heard some of our players joke, “Our Americans are better than their Americans.” But that misses the point, our Germans played very well too.

Football is the ultimate team sport and a quarterback is only successful if receivers to catch, running backs carry and linemen protect and open holes. Garret threw well and made outstanding reads in our run game, but the ball-carriers, receivers and linemen are overwhelmingly German.

(This is as good a time as any to remind my readers that these blogs have two very different audiences. People who have followed me through my Texas roadtrip in 2012 and players I coach at Ravensburg. I am writing to inform my US readers about Euro-football, but also as a coach, trying to teach ideals to help our players perform. That said, nothing I say here isn’t true. Look at the highlight film of this game yourselves and tell me you don’t see good German football players, blocking, tackling, running and catching. I don’t know if catering to two separate audiences is ethical journalism, if not, too bad. Right now I’m being paid to coach.)

The truth is, our Germans were better than their Germans. We have two receivers who, I believe could be effective college players in the States, two German running backs scored touchdowns and every linemen is a local. Ten of our defensive players are German.

But as nice as Sunday was, it’s over.

Players, please remember what led to our success; outstanding execution. Execution earned by good participation and hard-work during practices. We must start fresh to earn another great Sunday next week in Frankfurt.

Razorbacks vs. Wilddogs 3

 This column was written by Gray Levy, and long-time American football coach and now author of Big & Bright: Deep in the Heart of Texas High School Football. Levy is currently coaching in Ravensburg, Germany preparing the Ravensburg Razorbacks for their 2015 GFL2 season. You can read more about Coach Levy at his blog here!

Football coach and retired teacher. I wrote Big and Bright: Deep in the Heart of Texas High School Football. HC for the Freiburg Sacristans