Hungary’s Győr Sharks begin season with new coach and quarterbacks

The Hungarian Football League, which was launched in 2012, is gearing up to kick off the 2017 season on March 25th. We continue to preview the six teams with the Győr Sharks up next. AFI’s László Makranczi sat down with Sharks vice-president Péter Becs  to ask him about the upcoming season.

The Sharks’ goal this year is to reach the HFL playoffs for the first time.

Last season Győr came close. The team almost made it to the playoffs; in the last round they still had a shot. They even had the home field advantage. However, the Eger Heroes defeated the Sharks. Nevertheless, year by year Győr was making small steps forward. The two times Hungarian champion now has the opportunity to make the playoffs. Nevertheless, the team had to make crucial changes, since head coach Vilmos Grátz decided to leave after 12 years.

The club management found a new man for the job, John Burleson, with whom a new era has begun. But this was not the only boost the Sharks got in the off season. Two new quarterbacks joined the squad. The former Szekszárd Bad Bone Máté Gyarmati is well-known for his speed and accurate passes. The other quarterback is an import, Phillip Garcia. He will help the Sharks on the field as a player, and off the field as a coach.

Vice-president Péter Becs Photo: László Becs.

Vice president Péter Becs emphasized that a lot of youngsters will get the opportunity to play in the HFL. He also added that good preparation and the depth of the rosters will be decisive this year.
Photos: László Becs

An era has come to an end, Vilmos Grátz left. How did you react?
We accepted it. He gave a lot of good reasons. It is difficult to concentrate on your job, the federation, the national team and two squads at the same time. In addition, one must cover a huge distance. It was hard to let him go, since we spoke with him on a daily or weekly basis.

How did you like the new coach John Burleson?
We wanted to find a man, who agrees with our team’s philosophy and accepts our terms and conditions. In addition, the new coach must be able to manage the team from Under 10 to the HFL squad. I think we made a good choice. Everything is going well, but we are still at the beginning of the road.

Photo: László Becs.

What changes did you make in the roster?
This year, the junior players and the talented but less experienced rookies have a greater chance to play in the HFL squad. We still have a lot of work to do. When finished, we will see how strong we really are.

We had an exciting season last year. What are your expectations?
In my opinion, there are a lot of teams in the HFL with fixed rosters. These clubs can maintain a high level of football every year. The others are trying to sign imports and loan players to become stronger. I think, at the beginning of the season it is important to be well-prepared. Further on, the depth of the roster will also count. It is hard to predict what will happen. This season I hope, we will have exciting games again. Just like last year.

The first official HFL season started in 2012. Since that you could not reach the playoffs. Do you think this will change in 2017?
Of course! Just like the other clubs, we would like to finish the 2017 season with a good result. However, it is more important to develop our team. With patience and time, this will have a good outcome.

Regular season of Győr Sharks:
April 9.: Eger Heroes (Győr)
April 22.: Budapest Cowbells (Budapest)
May 7.: DAK Acél Dunaújváros Gorillaz (Győr)
May 20.: Miskolc Steelers (Felsőzsolca)
June 4.: Budapest Wolves (Budapest)

Győr Sharks established in 2004
Home Field: Elektromos Field
Coaching Staff: John Burleson (head coach)
New Players: Máté Gyarmati, Phillip Garcia, Andres Fernandez
Championships: Hungarian Champion (2006, 2007), Hungarian Championship runner-up (2009), Central European Interleague winner (2011), EFAF Challenge Cup runner-up (2009)

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