LIVESTREAM Austrian Semifinal: SsangYong Danube Dragons @ Swarco Raiders Tirol, 17:00 CET (5 pm, 11:00 am ET)

The Ssangyong Danube Dragons (5-3) will head into Tivoli Stadium in Innsbruck to face the Swarco Raiders (5-3) in this highly anticipated Austrian Football League semi-final matchup.

These two teams split their series in the regular season with both teams winning at home. After the Raiders beat the Dragons 24-7 in early June, Danube got their revenge upsetting the 2019 champion Raiders 24-17 in front of their home fans two weeks ago. This time, the Raiders are at home and looking to bounce back and return to the Austrian Bowl for the 11th consecutive season.

After a strong start to the season, the Swarco Raiders have now lost two games in a row. While they were resting some key players, the Raiders dropped the final game of the regular season last week in Prague against a struggling Black Panthers team. Coach Herron and the Raiders will be determined to redeem themselves after an uncharacteristic two-game slide.

Quarterback Sean Shelton and the offense must be able to take care of the ball as an interception and three fumbles cost them in their last matchup with the Dragons. Look for Shelton to use his legs in the red zone as he’s run for four touchdowns this year.  The veteran passer will need his receivers to step up as fans can expect the veteran passer to throw the ball over 30 times today. Five-foot, nine-inch receiver Marco Schneider is determined to heat up as he’s been the team’s best playmaker this season. If import Davion Washington suits up, anticipate coach Herron to give the speedster touches in space.

SsangYong Danube Dragons @ Swarco Raiders Tirol, 17:00 CET (5 pm, 11:00 am ET)

Swarco Raiders quarterback Sean Shelton commented on themood of the team heading into the playoffs:

“We feel good. We have used the last few weeks to get healthier and are prepared for the playoffs, which are the only games that matter. Now we just have to go out in front of our home crowd and execute.”

Defensively, the Raiders aim to rise to the occasion. Expect linebackers Alex Ferrari and AJ Wentland to make some plays along with safety veteran Vincent Muller. Cornerback Thomas Kugler is eager to matchup against a talented core of Dragons receivers. Kugler will be lining up across from Phillip Haun one of the top receivers in the country. This experienced Raiders defense will have to carry the team today if they want to get back to the Austrian Bowl.

Defensive back Davion Washington on facing a dynamic Dragons offense:

“We’re excited coming into the game and look forward to seeing what their talented offense brings to the table.”

The Dragons defense will be hungry to cause turnovers again as Paul Schachner and Florian Albrecht were both able to force fumbles in their last matchup. Albrecht has been one of the league’s best defenders with 27 tackles and five pass breakups on the season. Albrecht leads an athletic secondary eager to put on another clinic as they got the best of the Raiders receivers on July third. Head coach Stefan Pokorny hopes to have veteran pass rusher Bernard Mosor back after he’s battled injuries the last few weeks. Dragons’ fans hope Mosor can suit up and get some pressure on the Raiders quarterback today.

Chad Jeffries leads this Danube offense on the field and into the playoffs after an up and down season. Jeffries’ 18 touchdown passes put him second in the league. The Azusa Pacific (NCAA D2) product’s offense has been aided by the excellent play of receiver Phillip Haun. Homegrown Haun was the star of their last game as he made two clutch, third-down catches finishing the day with 162 yards and two touchdowns. If Jeffries can connect with Haun as he did two weeks ago, he may have the Dragons in their first Austrian Bowl since 2010. In addition, 6’3″ 250 pound running back Byron Rhone provides balance to this finesse-based offense as the powerful running back is excellent in short yardage situations and has good hands out of the backfield. Jeffries and this Dragons team are determined to beat the Raiders in Innsbruck as these two have produced some epic post-season battles in the last few seasons.

The veteran quarterback commented on his team’s mindset heading into hostile territory:

“After this last win against the Raiders it kind of built that confidence up, our defense is playing really well towards the end of the season. Offensively, I think we have a great gameplan going into this game. We’ve been practicing really well these past two weeks, while the Raiders haven’t really had the chance to focus on us.  They had a CEFL game and the Prague game. We’ve had all of our focus on the Raiders. So, I think going into this one we had the time, we had the preparation, and we’re gonna go in there confident as ever after the last win we had.”

The Swarco Raiders have had their struggles this year, but their goal of becoming Austrian champions is still in front of them. The Raiders have a chance to return to the Austrian Bowl for the 11th consecutive season and compete for their third straight championship. The Dragons defeated the Raiders back in 2010 in their only Austrian Bowl appearance and are hoping for some of the same magic today in search of the club’s second title game appearance.

Watch the game live here. SsangYong Danube Dragons @ Swarco Raiders Tirol, 17:00 CET (5 pm, 11:00 am ET)

Swarco Raiders roster

Danube Dragons roster

 

 

 

 

 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football