La Courneuve Flash capture French title for 12th time

Another great season in the French D1 Elite Championship League came to a close this past weekend in the league championship game, Casque de Diamant 26 played in Thonon-les-bains.

The first championship game since 2019 saw a matchup between the two teams that had won the previous three French titles and after four hard-fought quarters, the La Courneuve Flash became champions with a 16-10 win over the Thonon-les-bains Black Panthers, securing their 12th championship in team history.

Both teams finished the regular season 9-1, with each team’s only loss coming against the other team. It was their fourth meeting in the last five months, so they had plenty of opportunities to scout the opposition and gameplan for the big game. The score of the championship game was significantly lower than that of the previous matchups, as there was an average of over 55 points scored in the first three contests. With a full scouting report at hand, the defenses came to play in this one, and gave us an unexpected low-scoring contest.

Flash QB Conor Miller tossing to RB Photo: A. Buche/FFFA/D.R.

The first points of the game came from the Flash’s defense, as Davidson Larochel intercepted a pass from Thonon quarterback Brett Hunchak on an attempted screen play and returned it for a touchdown late in the first quarter. The Black Panthers responded with a field goal, but that would be the end of the scoring in the first half, as the Flash took a 7-3 lead into the break.

The Black Panthers got the ball to start the second half and quickly found the end zone with a strike from Hunchak to receiver Remi Bertellin. After the extra point made it 10-7, the Flash responded with a touchdown drive of their own, capping it with a rushing touchdown from Jason Bofunda.

Thonon QB Brett Hunchak Photo: AntoineBuche Photographie

As the fourth quarter kicked off with the score 14-10 in favor of La Courneuve, both defenses clamped down. Thonon eventually had the ball with just under three minutes left near their own end zone. They took an intentional safety, conceding two points but allowing them to gain better field position with a successful onside kick. However, the Flash were ready for it, and they recovered the ball. Bofunda, who was named the game’s MVP, clinched the game by gaining first downs with the help of strong blocking.

Both teams left it all on the field, and they will surely be the early favorites to take home the Casque de Diamant next season.

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.