France: Playoff positioning almost set as North conference heads into home stretch

The French D1 Elite Championship league heads into the second last weekend of the regular season with a clear front runner in Conference A, the North.

The undefeated La Courneuve Flash will host the Amiens Spartiates who sit fourth in the six-team conference. Meanwhile, the third place Saint-Ouen Cougars are on the road to play the Asnieres-sur-seine Molosses who sit fifth. Finally, the second place Thonon Black Panthers travel to Villeneuve d’ascq are the northern border to take on the last place and winless Villeneuve d’ascq Vikings.

Saturday, May 21

Amiens Spartiates (3-5) @ La Courneuve Flash (8-0)

Fresh off a huge victory in the Central European Football League playoffs over the Thonon Black Panthers  who they beat by a score of 45-27, the Flash now return to league play as they host the Spartiates.

If there were any doubts that the Flash were the best team in Conference A by far, La Courneuve silenced them as they knocked off the second-place team in the conference, the Thonon Black Panthers, with ease for the second time last week. The Flash are 8-0 in league play and are set to face off against a 3-5 Amiens team who lost to the Black Panthers 42-0 two weeks ago. These teams played each other back in week 3 and the Flash won in dominating fashion, shutting out the Spartiates 63-0. There were several key contributors for La Courneuve in that game, including quarterback Conor Miller, who completed 8 of 15 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns, receiver Stephane Fortes, who caught six passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns, and defensive back Wadjihe Said, who registered 3.5 tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown. It would be very surprising if Amiens managed to keep this one close.

Saint-ouen l’aumône Cougars (4-4) @ Asnieres-sur-seine Molosses (2-6)

On Saturday, the 4-4 Cougars will travel to Asnieres-sur-seine in the outskirts of Paris to take on 2-6 Molosses in what should be the most competitive game of the week in the conference.

The last matchup between these teams resulted in a 27-16 win for the Cougars, who took care of business at home.

In that game, the Cougars jumped out to a 27-0 halftime lead, and never let Molosses back into the game until they got a pair of touchdowns in garbage time. Cougars quarterback Brody Hahn had a great day completing 18 of 24 passes for 278 yards and three total touchdowns (including one on the ground) while not recording a turnover. Jeff Alexandre was Hahn’s top target, hauling in six passes for 155 yards and a touchdown, while Curtis Laurent chipped in with eight catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. Defensive back Rachid Tackjerad had a huge day on the defensive side of the ball for the Cougars, recording two interceptions that stopped Molosses’ momentum. Molosses quarterback Camille Thouray struggled for most of the game, completing 10 of 25 passes for 143 yards, but did manage to throw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.

In order to compete in this game, Molosses will need to get off to a fast start and use their home-field advantage to build an early lead. If they do so, they will have a chance to get their first win of the season against a team not named the Vikings.

Thonon-les-bains Black Panthers (7-1) @ Villeneuve d’ascq Vikings

Thonon will have a chance to get a confidence-boosting bounce back win this Saturday when they take on the last-place Vikings on the road.

After a disappointing loss to the Flash last week in Central European Football League play, the 7-1 Black Panthers should be able to secure an easy victory against Villeneuve d’ascq, who still remain winless at 0-8. These teams met back in week 3 in Thonon-les-bains, and the Black Panthers walked away with an impressive 53-0 shutout victory. The Black Panthers put together a very well-rounded performance, as quarterback Brett Hunchak only had to complete 8 of 9 passes for 117 yards and three touchdowns, each one going to a different receiver. Nicolas Khandar had a big day on the ground, carrying the ball seven times for 102 yards and three touchdowns.

Adel Bafdile added an 81-yard touchdown in the return game, and Kristof Szakacs and Guillaume Rolle each recorded an interception. Like the Flash vs Spartiates matchup, this one will most likely result in a blowout victory, and Thonon will use this one as a tune-up for a rematch with La Courneuve in the final game of the regular season next week.

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.