France: FFFA Elite D1 2024 Season Preview

Football in France is back in action as the FFFA D1 Elite kicks off Week 1 this weekend.

The FFFA D1 Elite (Federation Francaise de Football Americain) will begin play this Saturday, February 3rd. with a total of 10 teams vying for the title. This year the league will be split into six teams in the Northern and Southern Conferences. Each team will play 10 games, one home and one away against each team in their own conference.

Northern Conference

Thonon Black Panthers: 2023 Record 11-1-1 (FFFA Champions – CEFL Runners Ups)

Canadian head coach Larry Legault looks to run it back after an excellent season last year hoisting the national championship trophy and coming up just short in the CEFL final.

Legault brings back most of his team from last year starting with quarterback Jose Tabora Jr. The dual-threat American passer was one of France’s best quarterbacks last season throwing to talented receivers Felix Durand, Leo Sarsteel, and Benjamin Lolomede all of whom are back for this season. They also ad American tight end Odel Turnbull to help in the run-and-pass game.

Defensively, they also bring back Valentine Roesch and Abedel Bafdile. During the off-season, they also added talented defensive back Tyron Smile who brings experience from the GFL.

La Courneuve Flash: 2023 Record 8-2-1 (CEFL Champions)

The Flash and head coach Nicholas Simoneu fell just short of back-to-back titles last year as they lost to Marseille in the semi-finals last season. They did however win the CEFL oddly enough beating the Black Panthers in another epic game between the two French powerhouses. This year Simoneu and the Paris team hope to make it two of three and win the national title again.

The Flash bring in wide receiver Darius Dawson an Alabama native who has been a standout in Poland, Germany, Mexico, and France over the past several seasons. They also signed American offensive lineman Hans Solberg from Concordia College to beef up their offensive line.

The Flash will be led by young homegrown quarterback Leo Cremades. The French passer was one of the league’s best quarterbacks last year throwing for 2,442 yards and 33 touchdowns while protecting the ball with only five interceptions.

Leopards de Rouen: 2023 Record D2 Champions

Head coach Xavier Mas has the core of his team returning in 2024 after winning the national championship at D2 level last year. The Leopard’s offensive line brings back Oliver Bordin and Xavier Vivier. This bodes well for import quarterback Jaran Roste from Bethel University (NCAA). Roste is a dual-threat athlete who broke several school passing records topping 9,000 career yards. Roste was a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy, the NCAA DIII Heisman during his career. This could make the Leopards a dangerous team with a jolt from the QB position.

Defensively they bring in American linebacker Justin Fonteneuaux from Georgetown University (NCAA DI FCS).

Last year, the Leopards also went to the U20 national championship game and should get some promising new prospects from that team playing with the seniors this year.

Les Cougars St. Ouen L’Aumone: 2023 Record 2-7-1

Former ELF star quarterback Donovon Isom looks to help the Cougars make the playoff contenders in a tough northern conference. Isom at 6’5 250-lbs is has had a lot of success in the German Football League and ELF.

Isom will look to translate this into wins in the FFFA with talented players such as offensive lineman Max Gaye, receiver Evans Sodatonou, and running back Chris Voumbo. Defensively, head coach Stephane Bago’s squad is led by veteran Omar Small, Adel Outtara, and Lucke Allangba.

Les Molosses d’Asnieres: 2023 Record 4-5-1

Veteran American quarterback Brody Hahn returns to France, but this time goes from the cross-town Cougars to their rival Molloses d’Asnieres squad. He’ll be joined by speedy running back Meril Zero, who comes back to the club after GFL All-Star and ELF stints the past two seasons.

Defensively, Veteran Bryan Jubert and Marwin Kamagu look to help first-year coach Brayden Mccombs club make a playoff push. Mccombs comes to the Paris region after coaching at Eastern Washington (NCAA DI) as well as in Brazil and Australia.

Southern Conference

Marseille Blue Stars: 2023 Record 9-3 (FFFA Runner Ups)

The Blue Stars have been one of the tougher teams in the FFFA South the past few seasons under head coach Bavuong Souphanthavong, and this year seems no different. Last year they fell just short of the championship losing to the Thonon Black Panthers in the title game.

They bring back respected French players in defensive back Haydrien Lynda, linebacker Eddy Abdullah, and defensive back Pierre Nana. Offensively, receivers Gabriel Marin Bisson and Vincent Moteiro return as well as offensive lineman Nasser Assoumani.

However, a glaring hole at quarterback remains a question for the Blue Stars as they enter this season.

Catalan Grizzlys: 2023 Record 6-3-1

Head coach Oscar Calatayud comes over from a phenomenal run as head coach of the Barcelona Dracs in the Spanish League which included winning six national championships.

Calatayud’s offense will feature American quarterback Jaylen Tregle (Southwestern Oregon NAIA) and talented French receiver Idriss Ramky and Brazilian tight end Morilo Soares. Defensively the Grizzlies bring back veteran players such as Terence Correia, Theo Duru, and Loris Savalle.

Cannes Iron Mask: 2023 Record – Promoted From D2

The Iron Mask enter their first year in D1 this season looking to make a splash in the Southern Conference. Head coach Christophe Ferres leads an experienced group featuring Loick Gilles, Mateo Maglia, and Louis Tribouley.

At quarterback, Ferres has gone against the grain by signing Hungarian national team passer Mate Hegedus. The Hungarian quarterback will have the rare chance of any European passer to lead a team as an import after flashing his talents for the national team and in the ELF for the Fehervar Enthroners. Look for him to target Marian Menden.

Toulouse Ours: 2023 Record 7-2-1

The Ours or “Bears” in English, are led by head coach Stephane Murat for the 2024 season. On defense they bring back Dorian Longhini and Louis Salvagniac. Murat has also been on the recruiting trail signing several new French offensive linemen and ex-national kicker Alexandre Sy.

As of now, they have not announced any import players. However, it is rumored by French football page HLSEU that they have signed Norman Douglas Jr. The quarterback in question spent time as a backup at Jackson State with Deion Sanders as well as two Juco stops and a season at Edward Waters NAIA.

Les Argonautes Aix-en-Provence: 2023 Record 2-8

First-year head Coach Emmanuel Maguet leads the Argonauts into this season, with previous experience with the Marseille Blue Stars and French National team. He has recruited several new French players from the area including Chady Abdel Aal (DB) and Pierre Moreno (LB).

Maguet’s squad is reinforced by quarterback Derek Green (Long Island University) who played in the Italian Football League last season. Green is the son of NFL quarterback Trent Green. The talented American quarterback will aim to lean on running back Antoni Giglio and receiver Valentine Tellier. Defensively, they bring in GFL standout linebacker Jaymn Haddad.

Dauphins De Nice: 2023 Record 4-6

Yannick Fattorini leads the Dauphins into their second straight year in the D1 Elite division. The Dauphins were a playoff contender in the 2010s before a short hiatus into D2. Now coach Fattorini and French quarterback Sullivan Silverio hope to get the Dauphins back to that level with veterans such as Joachim Torrelli Anthony Rosso, Borris Horn, Niccolas Marin and Alex Max.

The Dauphins also bring in college teammates in defensive lineman Jordan Harris and Demetri Swan (Brockport NCAA DIII) as well as talented French defender Chemsedine Jaouni.

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