The Badalona Dracs and Valencia Firebats face each other in the Spanish championship game for the third consecutive year in a game that has become an arch rivalry.
The two cities are rivals. Two of the five teams in the Spanish top division come from Barcelona and two from Valencia. These two teams have battled for supremacy in Spain four times in total with the Firebats having a 3-1 edge.
This will be the 14th appearance in the championship game for the Dracs with six titles (1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2014), and a win today will make them the most successful team in Spanish American football league history (now tied with Pioners, also with six championships). The Firebats have four league titles (2006, 2007, 2009 and 2015) and are playing in their eighth final.
Valencia won last year’s game 30-20.
The Dracs enter the game without star quarterback Mike Box, but since his departure prior to the final regular season game of the year, Sergio Gonzalo has filled in well and the team has not lost a beat. Gonzalo led the team to the championship in 2014 and with weapons like receivers Robbie Jackson and Drew Clausen, who led the league in scoring, along with running backs Javi Fernandez and Joan Carles Bartra, he could well add the 2016 title to his resume.
Dracs head coach Oscar Calatayud will be trying to cap his 10th season with the club with a championship. He has put together a formidable team which has gone undefeated throughout the regular season and the playoffs. They have averaged 52.7 points per game while allowing only nine point per contest.
This is Alvaro Quezada’s first year as a head coach with Valenica who have undergone a rebuilding year.
The Firebats opened this season tentatively, struggling to beat the Barbera Rookies early on winning on the final play of the game. But the team has gradually improved and despite dropping both its games to Badalona during the regular season, are much more prepared to meet them in the championship.
Quarterback Thomas Murphy has his own weapons in receivers Javier Martinez, Alejandro Silvestre and oJshua Helmkamp while running back Hector Pertegaz has been steady all season. In addition, Ryan Seaberg has also been erected in fundamental part of a defense that has gconceded 20.1 points on average in the regular season (the second best championship behind Dracs).
Despite Badalona’s superiority during the season, anything can happen in a championship game. This will be fun to watch.