France: FFFA Elite D1 2023 League Preview

Football in France is back in action as the FFFA D1 Elite kicks off week one this weekend.

The FFFA D1 Elite (Federation Francaise de Football Americain) will begin play this Saturday, February 4th, with a total of 10 teams vying for the title.

This year the league will be split into six teams in Conference A and Conference B. Each team will play 10 games, one home and one away against each team in their own conference.

Conference A

Flash De La Courneuve: 2022 Record 14-0 National Champions

The Flash capped off a near-perfect season in France by winning the national championship last summer and only losing one game in the French league all year. The team has lost several players to the ELF’s Paris Saints already, however, still return the core of their title team.

The team goes into the season with young French quarterback Leo Cremades starting under center. To help the young passer, the Flash have signed veteran Canadian receiver Ben Von Jagow. They also added versatile DB/WR Miles Corpening and American pass rusher Zachary Curry (LFA Mexico).

Head Coach: Nicolas Simoneua

Key returning players: QB Leo Cremades, DB Amir Kilani, DB Vincent Lemoine, LB Ange Kamgan, OL Sebastian Jallier

Key Additions: DB/WR Miles Corpening (USA), DE Zachary Curry (USA), WR Ben Von Jagow (Canada), DB Gibon Jordan, DB Marlier Quentin.

Les Molosses D’Asnières-sur-Seine : 2022 Runner Ups (4-6)

The Paris based squad looks to rebound from a disappointing 2022 season and push for the playoffs this season. The team should get a boost from young players as they have a strong U20 and U18 team. New quarterback Robbie Patterson takes over after playing a few games in Germany for the runner-up Potsdam Royals.  Patterson brings experience from NCAA DI FCS powerhouse Montana University where he was a dual threat back-up quarterback.

Head Coach: Jerome Dondey

Key returning players: RB Adam Oussedik, Jordan Rheda Laviolette, RB Julien Marques, OL Ibrahim Bih

Key Additions: QB Robbie Patterson (Montana NCAA DI FCS, Potsdam Royals, USA), OL/DL Mouss Diawara

Les Spartiates d’Amiens: 2022 Runner Ups (3-7)

The Spartiates have several new pieces in place for a run in 2023 including new head coach Quentin Danes. Danes promptly brought in a new DI quarterback in Joe Newman, as well as signing two top French offensive linemen in Max Gaye and Amine Hamadou. On defense, Julien Small returns along with American import Deangelo Chesson.

Head Coach: Quentin Danes

Key returning players: DB/KR Deangelo Chesson (North Carolina Wesleyan NCAA DIII, USA) LB Julien Small

Key Additions: QB Joe Newman (Wofford NCAA DI FCS, USA), QB Dimitri Vercaigne (French National Team U19), OL Max Gaye (French National Team) OL Amine Hamadou (Ravensburg Razorbacks)

Thonon-les-Bains Black Panthers: 2022 Runner Ups (11-2)

The Black Panthers fell just short of the championship as they lost to the La Courneuve Flash in the championship game last summer. The Black Panthers project to be one of the league’s top teams in 2023.

The team returns several key French players especially on defense as Adel Bafile and Valentine Roesch are proven playmakers who bring experience as imports in Finland and Germany.  The team also added dual-threat quarterback Jose Tabora Jr, and NCAA DII All-American tight end Jack Pilkerton who should be a mismatch for any linebacker in the league. The Black Panthers project to be one of the league’s top teams in 2023.

Head Coach: Larry Legault

Key returning players: WR Benjamin Lolomede, OL Guillaume Malcor, DB Adel Bafile (Kuopio Steelers), LB Valentine Roesch (Rostock Griffins), WR Felix Durand.

Key Additions: QB Jose Tabora Jr (Wilkes University NCAA DIII, USA), TE Jack Pilkerton (Kutztown NCAA II, USA), DT Gabriel Montagner (Brazil), OL Paul-Henry Minzeni (Helsinki Wolverines, Belgium).

Les Cougars St Ouen l’Aumône: 2022 Record 5-5

The Cougars hope to make the playoffs this season bringing in some new talent. At quarterback, they bring in Mateo Renteria, who had a prolific NCAA career at the College of Wooster (NCAA D3) throwing for over 10k yards in his career. Renteria will lean on veteran receiver Jeff Alexandre and offensive lineman Darius Hicks.

Head Coach: Stephane Bago

Key returning players: WR Jeff Alexandre (French National Team) OL Darius Hicks ( Fort Valley State NCAA DII, USA)

Key Additions: QB Mateo Renteria (Wooster NCAA DIII, USA),

Pionniers de Touraine: 2022 D2 Champions

Les Pionniers finished last year on a high note winning the D2 title in France and earning themselves a promotion to the FFFA Elite. Now they look to take on the new challenge at France’s highest level with much of the same core of players that won the D2 title one year ago.

Head Coach: Abed Belkhous

Key returning players: OL Stephane Kamga, DB Livrane Simahka, RB Martin Pasquier, OL  Ulysse Le Bihan

Key Additions: DC Brian Billy,

Conference B

Les Ours de Toulouse 2022 Record 5-4-1

The Ours bring in several new players including three national team French talents to the squad this season. With the new blood, including veteran import Nemieceo Loureiro, and former Army West-Point quarterback Tony Brown III, the Ours hope to make the post-season in the South.

Head Coach: Stephane Murat

Key returning players: Thomas Hillon, Arnaud Montgenie, Vincent Parramon, Julien Garnier

Key Additions: QB Tony Brown III (Army, USA), RB/WR Nemieceo Loureiro (Wroclaw Panthers, Husson University, USA), WR Pierre Hilderald (French National Team), DL Ali Hayek (French National Team), LB Dorian Longhini

Les Grizzlys Catalans: 2022 Record 7-3

The Grizzlys are coming off of excellent season in 2022 where they made a strong run and qualified for the post-season. Now they look to replace successful quarterback Jake Puricha with Jagger Laroe a former Ohio State Buckeye quarterback who will look to take the field as a starter for the first time since high school. Laroe is joined by Canadian talent Jonathan Breton Robert who had a standout career at Laval University, winning two Vanier Cups as a receiver. Robert should go well with last year’s DI leading receiver Idriss Ramky and a loaded receiver core.

Head Coach: Enver Ramovic

Key returning players: WR Aymeric Guillemaud, WR Idriss Ramky (Stuttgart Surge, Wroclaw Panther – ELF), OL Mattias Guyon, LB Terrance Corria

Key Additions: QB Jagger Laroe (Ohio State NCAA Big Ten, USA) Loris Savalle, DL Teddy Alane, Jani Manderbacka (Wasa Royals, Finland), Teva Lanot, WR Jonathan Breton Robert (Laval, Canada)

Blue Stars Marsielle: 2022 Record 11-1

The Blue Stars reached the semi-finals last season after dominating the Southern Conference last year with an undefeated record in the regular season. Marseille returns several key players from its 2022 squad as they look to hoist the trophy this season with a currently unannounced new quarterback at the helm, with longtime head coach Bavuong Souphanthavong.

Head Coach: Bavuong Souphanthavong

Key returning players:  DB Hadrien Lynda, Vincent Monteiro, LB Eddy Abdullah

Key Additions: RB/DB Emmanuel Ntoutoume-Etoughe, DL Dieu Le Veut Mukuna, WR/TE Pedro Pires Da Rosa Fernandes

Aix-en-Provence Argonautes: 2022 Record 4-5-1

New head coach Corentin Ducatillon  takes over in AixenProvence as the Argonautes look to reach the post-season in 2023 after a middle of the pack season last summer. The team features several veteran players including two national team defenders. Last season, quarterback Mike Pina was one of their bright spots, yet this year the team has yet to announce its quarterback. They have however brought in import Nick Wimmer, a former all CAA center for the William and Mary Tribe (NCAA DI FCS).

Head Coach: Corentin Ducatillon

Key returning players: DB Kani Dorfeans (French National Team), LB Valentin Tellier (French National Team),

Key Additions: Nick Wimmer OL (William & Mary NCAA DI FCS, USA)

Grenoble Centaures: 2022 Record 2-8

After a rough season in 2022 the Centaures had several veterans retire including longtime quarterback Loic Caruso, Joffrey Hamman, and Félix Fourreau. The 2023 squad will feature several new young players.

Head Coach: Charles Torro

Key returning players: WR Steelwell Leboucher, WR Quentin Droquet, RB Handy Maldera

Dauphins De Nice: 2022 D2 Runner Ups

The Dauphins return to the DI Elite for the first time since 2017, bringing back much of the core that had them knocking at the door the last few seasons. National team quarterback Sullivan Silverio leads the returning group of players along with linebacker Benjamin Touati and offensive lineman Anthony Simper.

Joachim Torrelli also returns to Nice, after spending a season away. The national team’s starting quarterback is an excellent athlete who can help the Dauphins in the defensive secondary or nearly any position on the field. The lone import on the team will be veteran RB/DB Charles Arnold (Concordia NAIA) who recently played in Romania.

Head Coach: Yannick Fattorini

Key returning players: LB Benjamin Touati, WR Andrew James, QB Sullivan Silverio, WR Calvin Silverio. OL Anthony Simper, DB Alex Av

Key Additions: WR/DE Fayade Said (Marseille Blue Stars), DB Tyron Simon (Dresden Monarchs) QR/DB Joachim Torrelli (French National Team), WR Orso Le Parc (Montpellier Hurricanes), RB Charles Arnold (Concordia, USA), LB Lucas Fortenil (French National Team).

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and