LIVESTREAM: France – Casque De Diamant – Thonon Black Panthers v. Saint-Ouen-L’Aumône Cougars, Sat. June 29, 6p CEDT (12p EDT)

The unbeaten Thonon Black Panthers (11-0) will take on the red hot Saint-Ouen-L’Aumône Cougars (8-4) Saturday, June 29 in Casque De Diamant XXV at La Stadium in Villeneuve-d’Ascq in Northern France.

The Black Panthers are playing in their third straight final while Saint-Ouen is making their first trip since winning back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016. Thonon has not won the French championship since 2014 when they won their second straight title. Ironically, the Cougars prevented Thonon from three-peating in 2015 when they defeated the Black Panthers 28-7.

The Black Panthers downed the Amiens Spartiates in the semifinals 22-7 in a comfortable win. Thonon had finished their undefeated regular season in France with a 74-0 demolishing of the Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons.  Thonon, first place finishers in the South, averaged 42.5 points a game. The Cougars finished third in the North with a 6-4 record and surprised the Marseille Blue Stars 39-27 in the wild card playoffs .

Thonon quarterback Clark Evans was the rushing leader in France with 1,012 yards but his backfield also includes very effective Swedish running back Kasper Wedberg who wound up with 673 yards, good for fourth. His receiving corps is talented with Jefferson Alexandre (430 yds), Lucas Veluire,who had six catches for 83 yards and a TD in the semifinal game, and Damien Di Cursi able to stretch defenses. In the semifinal win over Amiens, Evans threw for 151 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another 105.

The Cougars advanced to the French final by stunning the Asnieres Molosses 24-6. Running back Isaac Amoako was the main architect of the victory scoring two touchdowns, one on a pass from Luke Casey and the other on the ground. Defensive back Maxime Roger scored on a 45 yard interception return while Antoine Droissart kicked a field goal and all three extra points.

They had qualified for the semifinal by beating the Marseille Blue Stars 39-27 in the wild card round after winning their last three games of the regular season, beating the Evry Corsaires 42-0, Rouen Leopards 24-14 and the La Courneuve Flash 24-0. Quarterback Luke Casey has been steady all year throwing for 1,621 yards and 14 TDs while rushing for 490 and another six. In the win over Asnieres, he only threw for 85 yards but did not need to do any more. In the wild card win over Marseille he threw for 177 yards and 3 TDs while rushing for 81 and another touchdown.

Normally, the Black Panthers would be the odds on favorites with an unbeaten record but Saint-Ouen enters the game on a hot streak and have been the underdogs the entire post season. And with Cougars head coach and general manager Xavier Mas stepping down after 20 years the team is playing for more than a championship.

This one is a toss up.

Watch the game live here. Thonon Black Panthers v. Saint-Ouen-L’Aumône Cougars, Sat. June 29, 6p CEDT (12p EDT)

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