French Federation of American Football kicks off 2018 season

The French Federation of American Football, FFFA (Fédération Française de Football Américain) kicks off its 2018 season – Casque de Diamant – this weekend with four games.

Two new teams have entered the French top division this year as the Marseille Blue Stars and Asnieres Molosses join the La Courneuve Flash, Thonon Black Panthers, Aix-en-Provence Argonautes, Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons, Rouen Leopards and Saint-Ouen Cougars.

The defending champions, La Courneuve Flash will open the season at home against the French final opponents, the Thonon Black Panthers. Meanwhile, the new newcomers ,the Blue Stars and Molosses will clash in Asnières sur Seine. In the other two games the Argonautes will play host to the Rouen Leopards while the 2015 and 2016 champion Cougars will be at home to face the visiting Bron/Villeurbanne Falcons.

WEEK 1 FEB 03/02/2018

03/02/2018 19:00 FLASH (La Courneuve) VS BLACK PANTHERS (Thonon les Bains)
03/02/2018 19:00 MOLOSSES (Asnières sur Seine) VS BLUE STARS (Marseille)
03/02/2018 19:00 ARGONAUTES (Aix en Provence) VS LEOPARDS (Rouen)
04/02/2018 14:00 COUGARS (Saint Ouen l’Aumone) VS FALCONS (Bron/Villeurbanne)

La Courneuve Flash

The Flash captured their 10th French title in 2017 but it was their first since 2011. The team that dominated the FFFA winning five consecutive titles between 2005 and 2009 has ambitions to build a new dynasty.

The stadium is the same as it was in 2011 but the players have changed. Led by quarterback Paul Durande, the Flash  will again have multiple weapons. Nicolas Khandar (Team Frane RB) arrives from les CAIMANS du Mans to dominate the running game. Michael Ivory  (OT Georgia Tech) and Michael Montero (C/OG Florida) will make sure that the house stays solid all season long.

The team not only added to its player roster. Head coach Nicholas Simoneau also added to his staff bringing in offensive coordinator Alex Burdette from Germany’s Hildesheim Invaders.

The number one ranked defense in France in 2017 will remain more or less the same.

Thonon Black Panthers

A new season with a new game plan for Black Panthers.

After an explosive championship final last season, which saw Thonon lose the final after a second half collapse, head coach Fabien Ducousso has made some changes.

He has brought in a new quarterback as Kyle Boehm from the California Golden Bears will replace Sam Poulos.

With the departure of running back Anrea Betza to Germany’s Frankfurt Universe, the Black Panthers will possibly see a return of the passing game. The signing of Team France wide receiver  Benjamin Plu (McGill University) is one indication. Thonon has also bolstered the offensive line signing Karl Mbaka (Team France OL) who played for the Falcons last year, and Basil Weber from Switzerland.

Defensive coordinator Maxime Dupuis has returned. He has sign versatile Alpha Jalloh (Liberty University) who played for Swedish champions the Carlstad Crusaders in 2017.

The Black Panthers boasted the best offense in 2017. Can they continue and challenge for the title again. Thonon last won the French title in 2014.

Asnieres Molosses

The Molosses enter the 2018 season with a new head coach in Bill Moore who coached in Poland.

Moore has brought back star wide receiver Sebastien Sejean ( St Louis Rams, Spartans Amiens, Dresden Monarchs) for his final football season. Sejean is a product of the Molosses youth football program.

Marseille Blue Stars

The “hype” team in France has risen to the top league from the depths of division 3 in only two seasons. The football team from France’s second biggest city is on track. Head coach Bavuong Souphanthavong and offensive coordinator Cedric Cotar  have bet on stability and will build around a solid defense led by two Team France defensive linemen, Valentin Gnahoua and Camille Gruel.

As if these 2 top pass rushers from last year were not enough, the Blue Stars have also signed Junior Aho (U19 National Team from Montpellier Hurricanes) . Marseille’s offense will be led by running back Pereese Joas (RB, Hawaïi) who is small and shifty. He had the second best all time shuttle in the NFL combines. Add to this Team France wide receiver Fargeon.

 

Aix-en-Provence Argonautes

The Argonautes are looking to regain past glories in 2018.  Two European offensive linemen, Damir Klaric and Ivan Kanacky  will add their weight to the Oline helping to protect new quarterback Niko Fortino (Berlin Adler). The defense will be led by linebacker Elcee Refuge (Kent State).

Rouen Leopards

This will be a transition year for Rouen it seems after two excellent seasons in the top French league. The Leopards reached the French semifinals in 2017.

New quarterback Taylor Palmer (Team USA QB from the World Games) will be protected by offensive lineman Christopher Taylor (Tulane).

Rouen has re-signed linebacker Marquis Mulkey (Northern State) who proved to be extremely versatile last year.

 Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons

The Falcons have beefed up their offense with the signing of Sweden’s leading rusher,  23-year-old Kasper Wedberg. The Swedish international was voted best running back of his country during the 2017 season where he played for the Örebro Black Knights .

The offensive line will be reinforced by the arrival of Flavien Lerivray from the of Thonon les Bains Black Panthers . The team’s offense also welcomes a new quarterback. Arthur Penet, also 21 years old, signs to the Falcons coming from the Angels of Mont de Marsan.

The defensive squad records two newcomers. Timon Debiez returns to France after a stint in Finland where he played for the Helsinki Roosters. At 23, the defensive back has been crowned champion of Finland with his club. The defense also records the arrival of a linebacker in the person of Axel Kowalczyk (23 years) from the Tigers of Nancy.

Saint-Ouen Cougars

The two-time French champions (2015 & 2016) are looking to rebound in 2018 following a mediocre season.

Head coach Xavier Mas has signed quarterback Jonathan Baker (Northwest Missouri State) and to help protect him added Brandon Crawford (Buffalo). With team captain Oliver Bordin returning the offense looks solid.

Source: Pierre Trochet

AFI
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