Limburg Shotguns, coached by Euro-veteran RB Jaycen Taylor, advance to Belgian Bowl XXXI

The Limburg Shotguns, incredible underdogs when the 2018 season began, their first in Belgium’s top league, have accomplished the improbable, and advanced all the way to the Belgian championship game.

They did it with Euro veteran running back and 2017 Finnish MVP Jaycen Taylor on the sideline, not playing but coaching the team. Taylor tore his Achilles tendon early in the season.

This past weekend,  Limburg surprised 2017 finalists, the Brussels Tigers, beating them soundly, 35-16 to clinch a berth in Belgian Bowl XXXI against the defending champions Brussels Black Angels.

In the first meeting between the two teams earlier this year, the Shotguns prevailed 40-34, but that was with Taylor playing running back. In that game, Taylor led the way, rushing for 150 yards and one touchdown. Without Taylor in the lineup in this game, the Tigers did not expect stiff opposition.

Taylor, who starred for Purdue and has won championships in Italy and Finland and played with the Swarco Raiders in Austria, had moved to Belgium in late 2017 together with his Belgian wife and son.

The Shotguns have only existed since 2008 and played in the Belgian second division in 2017 moving up to the top division this year for the first time since 2015. The team is based in the small town of Beringen (45,000) in northeast Belgium. Most teams in Belgium do not rely on import players so Taylor’s move to a league which is not on a par with his previous stops in Finland, Austria or Italy, came as a welcome surprise for Limburg.

He took over the reins as head coach after the previous coach left the team after four games.

“These guys came together as a team. I am so proud of them. This took tons of preparation and hours of watching game film. All year, everyone has been taking us lightly and with me out of the lineup, our opponents in this game maybe did so too.”

With Jason Jackson playing quarterback, and a new sense of confidence, the Shotguns were in control of the game from the opening whistle.

This is the first ever trip to the Belgian title game for the Shotguns where they will face a team that is the overwhelming favorite. The Black Angels are appearing in their fourth straight final. They have won the title two of the last three years. In 2017, they defeated the Tigers 27-20.

Taylor knows that the Tigers took his team a little too lightly and cites preparation again.

“They did not change a thing and after watching hours of game film, our defense knew their plays. We were well prepared.”

Jaycen Taylor after getting doused with traditional victory water bath

Nevertheless, he is not expecting the Black Angels to fall into the same trap:

“The Black Angels are a very good football team and I hope they do not take us lightly. My team has come a long ways this year. We know we will have to play a perfect game to beat the Black Angels.”

Belgian Bowl XXXI is scheduled to be played in Beringen, Belgium on June 30.

Photos: Sportbeat TV



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