The Polish Liga Futbolu Amerykańskiego, LFA, heads into the final weekend of the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season with playoff positioning on the line.
The top four teams , the Bialystok Lowlanders, Wroclaw Panthers, Bydgoszcz Archers and Tychy Falcons have all qualified for the playoffs while the Silesia Rebels and Warsaw Mets will battle to stay out of the basement in the final standings.
The Lowlanders and Panthers will play to decide first and second while the winner between the Falcons and Archers will wind up third and the loser fourth.
Saturday, October 17, 12:00, 4-0 Wroclaw Panthers @ 4-0 Bialystok Lowlanders
This is a battle of the heavyweights in Polish football. Two unbeaten teams who have played each other in the last two Polish championships with each winning one, the Lowlanders in 2018 and Panthers 2019. Still, Wroclaw is the favorite with an astounding 224 points scored in four games and only seven against. The Lowlanders have also impressed but averaged 39 points a game while surrendering 17.5 on average. It could be a tale of two running backs. Bialystok’s Glen Toonga versus Ryan Tuiasoa of the Panthers. Each have been the key to the offenses. Toonga leads the touchdown parade with 11 while Tuiasoa is right behind with 10 (9 rushing/1 receiving). They have each had multiple +150 yard games and each has been deadly at shaking off and sliding around tacklers at the line of scrimmage to then outmatch second level defenders with speed. But now each is facing the best defense they have seen all year in Poland.
The quarterbacks, Brandon Gwinner of the Lowlanders and Wroclaw’s Bartosz Dziedzic have been solid although Gwinner has had more pressure on him. Dziedzic leads the league with 14 touchdown passes while Gwinner has thrown five but also rushed for four.
Defensively, the Panthers hold the edge led by defensive end Thiadric Hansen who leads the league in defensive touchdowns with two.
Sunday, October 18, 13:00, 2-2 Bydgoszcz Archers @ 2-2 Tychy Falcons
This could well be the game of the week in Poland as both teams have had similar performances. The Falcons have beaten the Warsaw Mets 16-0 and the Silesia Rebels 42-26 while losing to Wroclaw 52-0 and the Lowlanders 44-32. Bydgoszcz defeated Warsaw 17-7 and Silesia 29-28. They dropped their game to the Panthers 58-0 after losing to Bialystok 49-24. The Falcons are third after having scored 90 and given up 122 while Bydgoszcz has scored 70 and surrendered 142.
Falcons quarterback Niklas Gormy has thrown seven touchdown passes, second in the league and with targets like receivers Dominik Niedziela and Rashad Still the Falcons are always a threat through the air. Add to that the running of Adrian Binek and Jan Szwej and they could cause the Archers problems.
Although Bydgoszcz are coming off an embarrassing loss to Wroclaw, that could actually make them more dangerous. Quarterback Dustin Hawke Willingham, despite playing one less game, is tied for fourth in the league in touchdown passes with four. French running back Meril Zero has scored five touchdowns so far, two on the ground, two in the air and one on a kick return. Wide receivers Paweł Fabich and Mikołaj Obrebski give Willingham reliable targets to throw to. Defensively, the Archers have Finnish championship winning linebacker Kadel King of the Kuopio Steelers.
Sunday, October 18, 17:00, 0-4 Warsaw Mets @ 0-4 Silesia Rebels
In their four losses the Silesia Rebels have scored 75 points while allowing 161. The Mets on the other hand, have yet to score a touchdown on offense. The seven points they have scored came off of an interception return. However, they have the third best defense in the league based on points against having given up 120. In fact, apart from the lopsided loss to the Panthers, they have held all the other teams to their lowest point totals in a game.
Still, in this battle of the cellar dwellers, quarterbacks will be the key, Ashley Bailey for Silesia and TJ Richardson of the Mets. Bailey relies on his feet and arm and is third in the league in rushing touchdowns with five and has thrown four touchdown passes. Receivers Devion Young and Jan Korkuc have a pair of receiving touchdowns each while running back Courtney Ettiene is always dangerous.
Richardson does not have the same weapons around him and has had to rely on his owning rushing abilities as well as those of running back Witold Szpotanski. Defensively, Arkadiusz Cleslok anchors a front seven that makes opposing offenses work hard to score. However, the defense wears down from being on the field so much. If the offense can kick into gear in this game, look for the Warsaw defense to keep them in the game and give them a chance.
Source of statistics quoted: Bartosz Frydler