The Reus Imperials (8-2) and Valencia Firebats (4-6) will face each other Saturday in the first Spanish semifinal in a game which would have looked a lot different a few weeks ago.
In the final regular season game of the year, Reus lost two key offensive stars. Quarterback Brady Huber, second leading passer in Spain, suffered a pinched nerve in his back and is still unable to play. Then Spain’s top point getter, receiver Nate Stephens, tore his ACL on a kickoff return. Suddenly, the Imperials were a different ball club.
Not only did they go on to lose that final regular season game but they face the same issues entering their playoff game against a Firebats team bent on revenge. Reus beat the Firebats in both meetings this year.
The four-time champion Firebats, who won the Spanish title two years ago, needed an overtime win over the Murcia Cobras to qualify for the playoffs. But behind the rushing attack of Héctor Pertegaz and Ben Sasu they may have a chance today.
The Imperials will look to running back Chris Smallwood to help rookie quarterback Pau Muñoz. Muñoz has had a total of about 80 snaps in games this year.