French Elite Division kicks off 2020 season!

The French Federation of American Football (FFFA – Fédération Française de Football Américain) Elite Division kicks off its 2020 season with the same 12 team format it had in 2019, in two conferences, North and South.

Joining the top teams in France will be two newcomers: the Villeneuve D’Asq Vikings in the North and the Catalan Grizzlies in the South.

The remaining 10 teams include the defending champions, the Thonon Black Panthers, French runners up, the Saint-Ouen L’Aumone Cougars, the  Flash La Courneuve. 2019 semifinalists, the Asnieres Molosses, the Marseille Blue Stars, Aix-en-Provence Argonautes, Montpellier Hurricanes, Amiens Spartiates, Evry Corsaires and the Grenoble Centaures.

The two conferences will not play any inter-conference games before the playoffs.

The wild card round will pit the  #2 North vs #3 South and the #2 South vs #3 North.

In the semifinals, the #1 North will play one of the wild card winners while the #1 South will take on the other wild card winning team. The French championship final is scheduled for July 4.

North Conference

ASNIERES MOLOSSES (2019: 8-0-2, 1st in North, French semifinalists)

After an unexpected loss in the semi-finals last season, the Molosses are aiming for the championship final in 2020. Two former University of Montreal Carabin (UdeMontréal) players have landed in Paris. QB Gabriel Cousineau and OL Gustave Sylvestre will help the best defensive team in the league gain some offense.  On defense, Adel Bafdil is back. Expect Asnieres to be a contender again in 2020.

 AMIENS SPARTIATES (2019: 7-3-1, 2nd in North, French semifinalsts)

The Spartiates were the surprise of the league in 2019, finishing with a 6-3-1 record. They reached the semifinals where they were knocked off by the eventual champions, the Thonon Black Panthers.

Spartiates head coach Steeve Guersent did not want to shake up a roster that produced a 7-3-1 overall record. The Spartans want to keep building the program with a stable roster. Thus they have added Team France team DL Pierre Yves Koko and brought back to the gridiron OL Quentin Danes.

 ST OUEN L’AUMONE COUGARS (2019: 8-5-1, 3rd in North, French finalists)

How will the Cougars manage after the departure of long-time head coach Xavier Mas?  That’s the key question for the 2019 finalist team. They have returned to a classic roster with the arrival of new QB Kendrick Furness (Union College) and talented offensive lineman Sean Guihan (Saint Mary’s). A perennial playoff team and winners of the 2015 and 2016 French titles, Saint-Ouen may face a tough challenge in 2020.

LA COURNEUVE FLASH (2019: 3-6-1, 4th in North)

The vaunted Flash fell heavily in 2019, finishing out of the playoffs for the first time in over a decade with a 3-6-1 record. They took the first step to repairing the damage in bringing all-star quarterback Paul Durand out of retirement to lead the offense in Paris.  On paper, the team looks stronger than ever. WR Aymeric Nicault (CFL Combine, Wasa Royals) will add another target for the veteran QB. In order to protect Durand as well as possible, the team signed massive offensive linemen Tommy Doles ( Northwestern) and James Louison (Long Island U).

EVRY CORSAIRES (2019: 3-6-1, 5th in North)

Early in their first year in France’s top division, the Corsaires surprised losing only one of their first four games. But that was as good as it got as they dropped their last five. Still, they managed to remain and are looking to improve in 2020.
Will veteran and All France WR Anthony Couvin will finally have an impact on the team? The Corsaires are building a solid youth program including a number of youth prospects in the elite roster. Will that be enough to stay in D1 ?

VILLINEUVE D’ASCQ VIKINGS (2019: New to the top league)

The 2019 D2 Champion will enter the D1 for the first time ever. They will be in tough though as they will play with zero import players on the roster. The offense will be supported by new internal player Jéméry Pot and a roster that play together for about 4 years now. Will that be enough to secure a spot in the Elite league in 2020?

South Conference

 THONON LES BAINS BLACK PANTHERS (2019: 12-0, 1st in South, French champions)

The reigning French champions are ready to keep the trophy at home. QB Clark Evans (US MVP 2019) is back in town. To protect the house, head coach Ducousso recruited two OL, Brazilian Machado Murilo and Jan Raus from the Czech Republic. The defense will have a French Canadian accent with DB Louis Achaintre and Mimoun Rahmouni from the Concordia Stingers and Sherbrooke Vert & Or. It’s no secret the team is also aiming for a European trophy.

MARSEILLE BLUE STARS (2019: 7-4, 2nd in South, Wild Card playoffs)

The Blue Stars were shocked in the wild card playoffs in 2019 losing to the Saint-Ouen Cougars. They plan on getting further this season and have signed QB Kaleb Scott from Saint Mary’s University in Canada. Together with French U19 RB Florian Monduc and WR Brandon Camara, he will lead a young and very exciting offense. On the defensive side of the ball, 2019 MVP Eddy Abdhulah is back from GFL2 and is joined by another young French prospect DB Tyron Simon.

GRENOBLE CENTAURES (2019: 6-5, 3rd in South, Wild Card playoffs)

The “other” team from the French Alps, (Thonon is also an “Alps” team), Grenoble is looking to improve on their disappointing early exit from the playoffs. They were bounced 45-7 by the Spartiates. The team could get their former French QB Loic Caruso back to lead the offense. Head coach David Gould (4th season) wants to prove that he can build a football roster based on French talents. WR Florian Larose is back from the German Football league and the defense will rely on international players DL David Trevisan and DB Khefil Osseni.

MONTPELLIER HURRICANES (2019: 5-5, 4th in South)

The Hurricanes struggled badly against the +500 teams in the South Conference in 2019 and did not make the playoffs. This year, they are determined to get over the hump. The offense will be led by QB Austin Stubbs (Northwestern) who has spent three seasons playing in Europe, most recently in 2019 for the Walbrzych Miners in Poland, leading them to their first-ever playoff appearance.   His key receiver will be Team France’s Quentin Gramage. Gramage  was the leading receiver in France from the opening game to the last in 2019 and wound up with 1,110 yards and 14 TDs. These two could be a deadly combination for opposing defenses.

Expect a clear improvement in 2020.

AIX-EN-PROVENCE ARGONAUTES (2019: 2-8, 5th in South)

The Argonautes are back! Following a dismal showing in 2019 when the only team they could beat was the lowly Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons (and only barely) Aix-en-Provence has signed QB Jason Gaines (Hastings College) who led the Warsaw Eagles to the PLFA title in Poland in 2019.  They have beefed up the offensive line with the addition of Paulo Andrade from Brazil and ex CFL OL Felix Gacusana (BC Lions, Simon Fraser University).

Will this be enough to get them into the playoffs?

GRIZZLYS CATALANS (2019: New to the top league)

The youngest team in the league formed only eight years ago, the Grizzlyswill be hard pressed to survive this year. Still, they have added beef up front in offensive linemen Rasmus Johansson from Sweden and Denmark’s Nicolas Moller-Hansen. These two will protect QB Jonny Brown, new to the team this year.

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