Polish Semifinals: Tychy Falcons vs. Bialystok Lowlanders – The Coaches

For the second year in a row, the Bialystok Lowlanders and Tychy Falcons will face each other in the Polish semifinals.

In 2019, Bialystok defeated the Falcons 49-19 in the semifinal stage but went on to lose 28-14 in the championship game to the Wroclaw Panthers.

In the only meeting between the two this year, Bialystok came away with a 44-32 win after trailing 32-31 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Lowlanders head coach John Booker and his counterpart Michal Kolek of the Tychy Falcons, took the time to talk to American Football International about managing to play a season during a pandemic, preparations for the game and the status of their respective teams.

How has it felt being able to play football when so much of the sports world is still shut down?

Booker: It has been extremely positive. Back in March it seemed impossible that sports would happen. The fact that we get to do something we love during a difficult time for the entire planet is a privilege. There are difficulties we deal with but overall gratitude would be the feeling I have.

Kolek: It was a great relief to find out we will be able to play the 2020 season! After such a long offseason and preseason periods, lots of sacrifices from my staff and players we were grateful to be able to participate in somewhat “normal” season in Poland. This adversity was a great chance to prove that our team can adjust to the hardship and come together to face whatever is in the way.

How satisfied are you with your season so far?

Booker: Honestly, It’s hard to win in general. We finished 4-1 and that is a positive and I don’t want to take away from that. We have had let downs in every single game we have played and truly need to play a complete game in order to win. This is the challenge going into this game. We have not played consistent and that is required to win in the playoffs.

Kolek: We have advanced to the playoffs from the highest spot in history of our team (as the 3rd ranked team in te country). We will fight for the right to play in the Championship game for the third year in a row, so given the circumstances. I think this is a success. On the other hand, we feel we could have had a better regular season record if not for some costly mistakes we made in our last game verus Lowlanders. But forutnately we get to see them again this weekend and get a chance for a rematch!

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

Booker: We need a sense of urgency in all 3 phases. Consistency comes in repetition and focus. We need to turn off the scoreboard and not worry about the outcome. If we focus on the fundamentals of each individual assignment and execute our jobs play in and play out we will get the outcome we want. Basic alignment and assignment type details will win this game.

Kolek: We have played increasingly better as the season went on, so we feel we are in a good rythym going into the playoffs. Looking back at our last game we have to focus on protecting the football and avoiding costly mistakes, that made us take the L last time we met with Lowlanders in the regular season game.

Which players do you need to be especially prepared for?

Booker: There is not a single player that we are focused on. They have solid players in numerous spots that we struggled with in the last matchup. But based on the plan offensively and defensively we just need to stay disciplined in what we are being asked to do and the cream will rise to the top. In Poland more games are lost than won and we can’t help the other team with self inflicted wounds.

Kolek: Defensively we need to stop the strong ground game led by Glen Toonga. Stopping the best RB in the league will be the key to limiting the Lowlanders offense. When it comes to our offense, we will have to match up against their great front seven and establishing solid run game and protecting the QB will have the biggest impact on the outcome of the game.

Is the team healthy?

Booker: A few guys are questionable but in the playoffs you have to find a way with the 11 on the field no matter what.

Kolek: Yes, we’ve had enough luck to avoid any major injuries to key players this season, so we will be able to play with the same lineup we did in the last games of regular season.

Tune in to AFI.tv Saturday, October 31 at 12:00 CET (06:00 ET) to watch the Tychy Falcons and Bialystok Lowlanders battle for a berth in the Polish Championship Game.


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