Hungary: Steelers Get First Seed, Capital City Teams Make Playoffs

The Hungarian American Football League regular season ended with three memorable games. Reigning champion  the Miskolc Steelers visited the Eger Heroes for the first seed, while Budapest Wolves and Budapest Cowbells had to fight for the two remaining playoff spots. The Wolves hosted the Győr Sharks while the Cowbells traveled to Dunaújváros to play the Gorillaz.

Miskolc Steelers (5-0) 40 – Eger Heroes (3-2) 34

Photo: Andás Pazár

Going into this game, these two teams played against each other twice before in the HFL. The score was always close. Heroes’ head coach, László Szeredi expected a give and take which he got in the first half. The Steelers scored and the home team answered. Troy Rice and Anton Ushenko got the first two TDs, while Kali Rashaad and Khalid Ali scored a touchdown each for Eger. Rice reached an important milestone in the first half; he scored his 50th TD in Hungary, and then A.J. Benson added two more. It seemed the Steelers were pulling away but the Heroes repsonded: Rashaad’s 100 yard kick-off return touchdown and Csaba Fenyvesi’s reception turned the match into a one possession game again.

In the second half, the teams concentrated more on the defense. Quarterback Vasyl Yordan extended the advantage for the Steelers with a beautiful TD. Eger could only answer at the end of the fourth quarter with Fenyvesi’s 60 yard reception. After a sloppy game against the Sharks, Yordan put up an outstanding performance (16 of 24, 319 yard, 5 TD passes, 1 rushing TD). The Heroes offense suffered a huge loss after Kali Rashaad was ejected for targeting (40 yard receiving TD, 100 yard kick-off return TD).

Budapest Wolves (2-3) 57 – Győr Sharks (1-4) 44

Photo: Péter Bratincsák

A win would have helped the Győr Sharks to make the playoffs. They reached the end zone on their first drive with Gergely Horváth’s reception. The Wolves turned things around: Peter Lenner, Xavier Marsden and Mark Bencsics scored, while Csaba Majoros added a field goal. It looked like the Sharks would bid farewell to the playoffs. But in the second half they fought back thanks to the defense of Phillip Garcia and Andres Fernandez. The visitors scored 3 consecutive TD-s and took the lead. This was followed by a give and take. At the end, the Wolves built up a two possession lead which settled the score.

Mark Bencsics was one of the key players for the home team scoring 4 touchdowns (3 rushing TDs, 1 pass TD) but Xavier Marsden had a good day with a fumble return TD and two rushing touchdowns. The Sharks’ Phillip Garcia had 6 scores (2 rushing TDs, 4 pass TDs), but this was not enough for the win. Despite the victory, the Wolves still had to wait until Monday. They needed the Cowbells to win.

 Budapest Cowbells (3-2) 20 – DAK Acél Dunaújváros Gorillaz (1-4) 17

Photo: Gábor Kárpáti

The Cowbells entered this game knowing that their playoff spot was secure. If the Gorillaz had escaped with a win, the team could have advanced to third place. In the third quarter, it seemed that Dunaújváros would make the playoffs. They led by 17 with József Beretka’s field goal, Bence Mátrai’s return and Dr. Daniel Bachrathy’s touchdown. The Cowbells’ running game worked really well, however, Bence Takács’s reception gave the first points for the squad. In the last quarter, Cowbells came back and turned things around. Péter Cseperkáló and Richárd Roják got one rushing touchdowns each and Tamás Váry made a two point conversion after Roják’s TD. Dunaújváros fought until the end but could not equalize, nor take back the lead.

Cowbells’ running back Richárd Roják was outstanding. He had 16 carries and ran for 188 yards and 1 touchdown. The Gorillaz offense seemed to be working until replacement quarterback Balázs Krasznai was injured. János Baranyai was the MVP of the defense with 8 tackles, 1 forced and 1 recovered fumble. The Cowbells clinched the third seed, while the Gorillaz finished sixth.

In the semi-finals, the Miskolc Steelers will host the Budapest Wolves on June 24. The Cowbells will visit the Eger Heroes on June 25.

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