Hungarian Football League Expands: Eight Teams Vying for Title

The Hungarian Football League season kicks off on March 24 and this year the HFL has expanded to eight teams.

Five clubs remain from the last season, while one team has returned to the league  and two newcomers have joined the HFL for the 2018 season.

Last season’s third placed team, Eger Heroes had to exit the top league of Hungary since it could not form a junior team for the 2017 U19 competition (a basic requirement according to the Hungarian federation). Reigning champion Budapest Cowbells, 2017 runner-up Miskolc Steelers, the Budapest Wolves, the Győr Sharks and the DAK Acél Dunaújváros Gorillaz joined for this year’s title race.

No signs of import players coming to the Cowbells (yet), however, the coaching staff welcomed Canadian coach Tony Addona (offensive line coach), who spent his last season with the Milano Seamen. In addition, top Hungarian players like Márton Mészáros (WR) or Péter Papp (DL) joined the club. The Cowbells basic goal is to keep the team together and build mainly upon Hungarian players.

There has not been too much news from the Miskolc Steelers. Last year’s silver medalist lost Troy Rice and A.J. Benson, but gained two former Steelers receivers, who already played with Vasyl Yordan in Miskolc and in Nyíregyháza. This year might be a great chance for the youngsters –like 2017 U19 MVP Máté Jónás– to show off their talent.

Budpest Cowbells win 2017 title Photo: Péter Bratincsák

Six time Hungarian champion Budapest Wolves signed two imports: kicker Benjamin Gordon Lyons and running back/defensive back Darius Antwoine Lewis. However, the Wolves has a lot of Hungarian National Team players and talented youngsters to turn to. The U19 squad defended their title in the championship, and players like Péter Varga (TE) or Gergely Gasparik (QB) can come in handy. They will be surrounded by National Team players from whom they can learn more.

The Győr Sharks also started to build a new team with some returning faces. They lost a few important players but they extended Arthur Brown’s and Andres Fernandez’s contract. Head coach John Burleson could not continue his job in Győr, thus, they signed Tony Baker and there is also a new quarterback in town, Cody Enman. Maybe this year, the Sharks will make it to the playoffs.

The DAK Acél Dunaújváros Gorillaz made also some changes. Their partnership with the Budapest Eagles ended; therefore they had to refresh the crew. The first newcomer is László Pacuk (defensive coordinator), who will help head coach Vilmos Grátz’s work. After Kornél Bachrathy moved to a new position, Balázs Krasznai will be the team’s new number one quarterback. The Gorillaz also signed wide receiver Balázs Rácz from the Sharks, and import Bryan McCullough (OL/DL/FB) also joined the club.

Budapest Wolves TE Péter Varga, Photo: Péter Bratincsák

One team returns after spending a year in the Hungarian Division II. The Nyíregyháza Tigers’ goal was to build up a new generation and give the young players some chance to show off their talent. It went well since they became champions along with some of their more experienced players. However, there is still silence around club. What we know now is that Troy Rice returned to the Tigers to retire from football, moreover, Max Nedzelsky, Sergii Budilov and Sergej Ovcharenko signed their new contracts with the team.

The two newcomers will be the Budapest Eagles and the Fehérvár Enthroners. Both got promoted after qualifying to the 2017 Duna Bowl ( Hungarian Second League’s final). The Enthroners is the most rapidly developing team in Hungary. They signed top class Hungarian players like Gábor Hartai (OL/DL from Debrecen Gladiators), Dávid Novakov (RB from Szekszárd Bad Bones), Csaba Péter (DL/LB from Budapest Wolves) or one of the greatest talents of the country, János Zilai (DB from Szekszárd Bad Bones). Jebrai Regan and Antonio Roane stayed with the team and Eric Steffes (TE) joined the squad. This team wants to make a good impression in its first HFL season.

The Fehérvár Enthroners joins the HFL for 2018

Last year’s Division I. runner-up Budapest Eagles also made some preps for the season. They will line up with a new quarterback Olivér Wágner, who formerly played in the Budapest Wolves and the Budapest Titans. Nevertheless, after their key player, Márton Mészáros (WR) left, the Eagles had to find a replacement. This will be Steelers’ former receiver A.J. Benson. Nevertheless, the squad is full of talented players and experienced coaches who are capable of bringing the team to a whole new level.

However, the transfer window is still open for these clubs, thus, changes are still possible everywhere.

Laszlo Makranczi
László Makranczi is a radio reporter, announcer and American Football journalist in Hungary. He lives in Debrecen and works for the Hungarian American Football Federation. Studied at the University of Debrecen, got a master’s degree in American Studies and he also has another degree in sports journalism. Currently, he is the press manager of the local team Gladiators and supports the Seattle Seahawks.
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