This weekend the Swarco Raiders will look to defend their 2015 Austrian title as they take on the surprising Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants in Austrian Bowl XXXII at Wörthersee Stadion Klagenfurt.
This is the sixth straight appearance in the Austrian championship game for the Swarco Raiders and 12th overall. Graz will be playing in this game for the 20th time but this will be the first time since 2009. The Giants have captured the Austrian title 10 times although the last was in 2008 against the Raiders when they won 31-21. Swarco has won Austria’s championship four times.
The two teams split the regular season series winning one game each against one another. The Raiders overwhelmed Graz in the first game 31-0 but Graz matched Swarco in the second game eking out a 22-21 victory.
Swarco arrived in the Austrian Bowl after soundly trouncing the Ljubljana Silverhawks 63-30 in one semifinal while the Giants beat the Vienna Vikings 7-3 in the other.
This was an amazing turnaround year for Graz. Following back to back 1-7 seasons in the Austrian league, the team finds itself in the Austrian Bowl sporting a 10-1 overall record.
The Raiders led the Austrian league in offense averaging 42 points a game in the 10 game regular season while Graz relied more on defense scoring only 23 points a game while surrendering 15 good for second behind the Raiders who gave up only 11 points a contest.
Swarco quarterback Sean Shelton led the league throwing for 2,720 yards and 27 touchdowns during the regular season. Christoph Gubisch threw for 1,692 yards and 17 touchdowns in 10 games.
Clemens Erlsbacher is Swarco’s leading receiver with 31 receptions for 587 yards and five touchdowns good for seventh in the league. The Giants top receiver was Philip Sommer who caught 36 passes for 563 yards and three touchdowns.
The top rusher for Graz was Matthias Kiegerl who rushed for 595 yards and four touchdowns while Sandro Platzgummer was Swarco’s leading running back in the regular season with 69 carries for 569 yards and nine touchdowns.
The way the Raiders have been playing since that loss to Graz a couple of months ago they would have to be the favorites. Graz will have to hope their defense, which led the league against the pass and was third against the run, can somehow keep Swarco’s potent offense in check to have a chance.