Polish Championship Game: The Coaches

For the third straight year, the Wroclaw Panthers and Bialystok Lowlanders will face each other in the Polish Championship Game.

Wroclaw won the title in 2019 defeating the Lowlanders 28-14 while Bialystok edged the Panthers 14-13 to win the 2018 crown.

In the only game between the two teams this season, Wroclaw came out on top, 37-13. In that game, the Panthers took a 16-6 lead at the half and then watched as Bialystok narrowed the lead to 16-13 early in the third. Then, they exploded for 21 straight points to take a 37-13 lead that they carried to the end of the game.

Wroclaw head coach Kuba Samel and his counterpart John Booker of the Lowlanders, took the time to answer a few questions from American Football International about reaching the final during a crazy season during this pandemic, their preparations for the game and the status of their respective teams.

For the third straight year you have reached the final. What was the key to getting here?

Samel: It all started way back in the offseason, building a solid base and then expanding on it with each practice. If you get a group of motivated, focused and dedicated players like we have it’s a great opportunity for success.

Booker: Finding what works best for the Polish players and adjusting things to fit the culture and level of play.

How happy are you with your season so far?

Samel: We approach each week like a separate building block and we always look for ways to improve. Overall we did a good job so far but it’s not done yet because we will face the biggest challenge this Saturday.

Booker: I am a coach so most of the time I only see what needs to improve. It is great to have the opportunity to play for a championship. Now it’s about trying to finish.

What was the major factor behind your semifinal win?

Samel: Our team came out focused and executed everything we ask them to do with great effort.

Booker: We simplified a lot of things defensively and spent much more time teaching fundamentals such as eye discipline and stimulus response. Offensively we changed personnel and put different guys in position to make plays. Most important thing was each player focusing on their job and their job only.

Where do you need to improve in preparing for the game Saturday?

Samel: We need to be extremely well prepared for the Lowlanders. They have a great staff and group of talented players that will do everything in their power to win. We must be ready physically and mentally for four quarters of intense battle.

Booker: Consistency, we came out with high energy and executed to start the last game and were not able to sustain that. We have to know there is going to be adversity when you play a good team. The game will be won or lost based on us being consistent, never too high and never too low. Simply do your job to the best of your ability for four quarters and see if that’s good enough.

You have played them once before this season. What lessons did you learn from that game?

Samel: Before the game we knew that they are well coached and have great players in every spot on the field. Not only did they confirm it but also expanded their roster to make it even better.

Booker: We have to limit big plays defensively. We expect them to run their QB this game based on the way we played them last. They were missing their top wide receiver so we expect him to play a role in this game. Offensively we have to keep things wide open. They are aggressive defensively and we have to be detailed in the game plan to account for spaces vacated by aggression.

Which players do you need to be especially prepared for?

Samel: We all know about their strong import group with Glenn Toonga, Brandon Gwinner on offense plus David Muller and their great front four on defense with Daniel Tarnawski, Adam Roszkowski, Damian Wesołowski and Laurynas Orlovicius. They have also a great group of wide receivers that also includes their dual threat import – Tommy Kaczocha. So we need to be ready in every aspect of the game for their talent level.

Booker: Defensively we have to key the running back in all scenarios (run, pass, screen). Both the import and domestic backs are the key to their offense. Their top wide receiver did not play last game so we anticipate he will play a factor in the game. Their defense has multiple playmakers that we are tracking each play. It is critical to put these players in conflict and read them correctly.

Is the team healthy?

Samel: Fortunately, we are healthy and were able to get the whole squad ready for the Final

Booker: We are good to go.

Watch the game live here. Polish Championship Game: Bialystok Lowlanders v. Wroclaw Panthers, Saturday, November 14, 15:30 CET (09:30 ET, 9:30 am)

AFI
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