The 3-6 Aarhus Tigers who finished fifth in Denmark’s National League, head to Aalborg to take on the 4-5 Aalborg 89ers, the fourth place finishers, in a Wild Card playoff to decide who gets to play the Copenhagen Towers in the semifinals.
These two teams faced each other a couple of weeks ago, with the Tigers coming out on top, 48-38. Aalborg defeated the Tigers 26-14 earlier in the season.
The 89ers are the third highest scoring team in the league averaging 42 points a game while Aarhus is well behind at 27.6.
Aalborg quarterback Alexander Kronborg is one of the most prolific passers in Denmark this year and with running back Breon Allen who averaged two touchdowns a game they make for a potent duo.
For the Tigers, Isahiah Weed has proven to the one of the most mobile quarterback in the National League this season and his backfield of Lasse Lykke and Rickey Stevens can give opponents fits. In the win over the 89ers two weeks ago, Lykke scored five touchdowns, four on the ground and one through the air.
Aalborg enters the game rested after enjoying a bye weekend last week while the Tigers lost to the Sollerod Gold Diggers to finish the regular season.
89er’s head coach, Jakob Zinck Thellufsen was asked about playing Aarhus again so soon after losing to them and the benefit of a week’s rest.
“Of course, having an extra week has meant that we have been able to focus purely on the Tigers for two weeks. We have used the energy to focus on what it is we need to be good at and what is important. We were maybe a little down at not winning a single game gainst the Razorbacks, which would have put us automatically in the semifinals. I think that kept us from playing with the right fire and focus when we met two weeks ago. So it’s about having the right attitude from the start.
Besides that, of course, we have spent quite a bit of time working on our run defense, as they have three players who are all great ball carriers. So we have to control that.”
Tigers’ head coach, Thomas Pedersen takes a philosophical approach in preparing for this game:
“Well, now that we are in the playoffs, we have had a more flow oriented approach at practice Here we build on the schematics that the players have with them from the regular season, where we have tried to define what is important to us and what is just “noise”. This is seen, for example, in what has momentarily arisen in previous games between us and external circumstances that, under closer analysis, have not been within our sphere of influence and have not contributed anything favorable. Therefore, in order to paraphrase a Foucauldian perspective, we must ‘let everyone protect not only themselves but others’, which must be reflected in a collective positive approach, as the basis for the team’s momentum.”
In the head to head meeting between the Tigers and 89ers this year, Aalborg holds a mere two point advantage. It looks like this one could go down to the wire.