The French Federation of American Football kicked off this past weekend, and the Grenoble Centaures earned their first victory in their first year back in the top division, downing the Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons 35-6 on the road in Bron-Villeurbanne.
One of the standout players for Grenoble was new German quarterback Sonny Weishaupt, who played for the Frankfurt Universe in 2018.
Weishaupt completed 17 of 27 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns and had two successful two point conversion attempts. Not a bad start to the season for both Weishaupt and the Centaures, and there is still more to come.
American Football International: You had a big win in your first game against the Villeurbanne Falcons. What is your opinion of the game?
Sonny Weishaupt: I think it was the typical first game of the season. I am proud of the team to fight through this battle even without two imports and three more starters on both sides. This was a great team win and really important for the club after being absent of the first league for over 8 years now.
AFI: How comfortable did you feel after your first game with the Centaures?
S.W.: It felt great and the team atmosphere here is outstanding. There are some language barriers, but football connects people from all over the world and different backgrounds, so we figured out ways to overcome that.
AFI: How different is the offensive system compared to the Frankfurt Universe?
S.W.: In Frankfurt we played a pro-style offense with a wide variety of different looks. Here we play a lot more RPO out of the Shotgun and spread the ball. So it is pretty similar for that matter, just different for being based on RPO play-scheme.
AFI: Why did you choose to switch countries?
S.W.: I wanted to gain the experience of playing football abroad as an import player, live through the pros and cons and also combine that with my passion for traveling. The timing fit perfectly this year for being able to finish my degree while I am here, writing essays and working on studies, while playing the sport that I love and learn about a different culture in a different country, and also learning to speak French (again).
AFI: How does the French league look like in power rankings compared to the GFL in your opinion?
S.W.: I think the top GFL-teams find themselves amongst the very top in all of Europe. However, this does not go for the entire GFL, since there is a huge gap in the level of play between the top three teams of each division to the rest of the league. I have only played one game here so far, so to have a more funded opinion on that, please ask me again after the season. But I do think that the top teams of France can play and compete with the place 3 and below teams of the GFL.
AFI: What do you think Centaures are capable of this season after promoting to the first league?
S.W.: I think we have a very talented team, it is just a matter of how fast this team can adapt to the new level within this league. So we take on one game at a time. The goal is to establish ourselves in this league and to leave a mark on every opponent, as well as qualifying for the playoffs. Personally, I want to win every single game and compete for a championship. But again, the most important game is always the next one, so we keep focusing on that and see where we are after the season is played.
Photos: Antoine Buche Photographie