LIVESTREAM Austria: Dacia Vienna Vikings v. Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants, Sept. 5, 16:00 CET (10:00 ET)

It will be an entirely different world and league format when the Dacia Vienna Vikings and Graz Giants take the field on Saturday, but that hasn’t diminished the desire of both teams to claim Austrian dominance.

Due to challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the rest of the Austrian Football League has opted out and left Vienna and Graz to battle it out for the title over a five game series. The format requires playoff intensity from the start, a challenge that new Vikings‘ quarterback Jadrian Clark recognizes fully.

“Normally you would have some sort of preseason game and then a whole regular season to build up into the playoffs, but with only having two teams playing this year we’ve got to be ready from the first game, the first play, to come out and execute at a high level,” he admitted. “We are doing everything we can in practice to be able to come out and give it our best on play one.”

Clark was the star passer for the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League last season, leading the league with 51 touchdown passes, and will find himself firmly in the spotlight for Vienna. He’ll be the star of a loaded offensive attack that features electric receivers Yannick Mayr and Maurice Wappl, as well as tight end Bernhard Seikovits, who has recently returned to Austria after participating in the NFL International Player Pathway training program. The group of offensive weapons is rounded out by the young running back tandem of Anton and Florian Wegan and Clark thinks the group can be special on Saturday.

Dacia Vienna Vikings v. Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants, Sept. 5, 16:00 CET (10:00 ET)

“It’s been an intense last couple weeks. We’ve been preparing as best we can to have everything ready in a short amount of time due to COVID-19,” he said. “I think the team is coming together really well, the guys have embraced me and we’ve gained chemistry really quickly. I’m excited and I think we’re ready.”

On defense, the Vikings boast a ferocious trio of defensive linemen in Leon Balogh, Florian Grunsteidl and Leo Misangumukini that are sure to give the Graz offensive line sleepless nights. Also returning is sensational import defensive back Andrew Spencer, a former first team All-American at Winona State. Spencer will patrol the secondary but could also see spot duty at running back, as he did last year.

Head coach Chris Calaycay is optimistic about his team’s prospects.

“We managed to integrate the new players into the team very well. We have changed and developed since last year, both with the players and the coaches,” he said. ” We’re looking forward to the season and one thing is clear: when you play football, you want to win!”

In order to do that, his team will have to overcome Graz and their own star studded lineup, which beat Vienna for the first time in three years during the 2019 season. Under center for the Giants is new import quarterback Hunter McEachern, a record setting passer at Belhaven University who hopes his collegiate success will translate to the European field. In his corner are a pair of veteran pass catchers in Johannes Schutz and Florian Bierbaumer who have the capacity to make him look good, as well as running back Wenzel Rock to take the pressure off the passing attack.

Defensively, import defensive linemen Blake Nelson and James King are set to give Clark headaches for the duration of the series. Nelson last saw action as a draft pick of the Salt Lake Stallions of the short lived AAF and is second in career sacks with 25 for his alma mater, Colorado Mesa University. King jumped over from Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders and boasts two All-Conference awards from his time at the University of Charleston. Both are expected to create chaos in the offensive backfield, along with homebrew d-lineman Daniel Schonet. Behind them, linebacker Thomas Schnurrer will continue to fly to the ball after leading Austria in tackles a year ago and defensive back Stefan Promitzer will provide veteran experience on the back end.

Giants‘ head coach Martin Kocian sums up the feelings of many in anticipation of the series.

“We can play football again and we are grateful for that. It is particularly important for the development of the team to be on the field, to train and to play,” he explains. “We will see tough but fair games against the Vikings. The team is looking forward to it!”

Watch the game live here. Dacia Vienna Vikings v. Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants, Sept. 5, 16:00 CET (10:00 ET)

Dacia Vienna Vikings Roster (Click to enlarge)

Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants Roster (Click to enlarge)

 

JC Abbott
J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.
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