Prague Black Panthers face Ostrava Steelers in a showdown in Under Armour Czech Bowl XXIV

The defending champion Prague Black Panthers will take on the Ostrava Steelers Monday, July 24 in Under Armour Czech Bowl XXIV at Viktorie Zizkov Stadium in Prague.

The Ostrava Steelers defeated the Prague Lions 27-19 in the Czech league semifinals to reach the Czech Bowl, for the first time in 20 years.

The last time the Steelers reached the final was 1997 when they won the title by beating the Prague Panthers 35-21. The Steelers enter the game as the “Cinderella” team in the Czech league this year. They finished the 2016 campaign dead last with a 1-9 record and improved to 7-2-1 this season.

The Black Panthers have won the Czech league title for the past four years and marched through the 2017 season without a loss. They defeated the Pardubice Stallions in the semifinals 40-19.

The two teams played each other twice during the regular season. The first game ended with a Prague 20-14 win while the second ended in a 13-13 tie. In other words, these two teams are as evenly matched as they could be.

Prague had the best offense in the league this season racking up 407 points in 10 games. But they will be facing the toughest defense as the Steelers gave up just 8.1 points a game in 2017.

Prague quarterback Jan Dundáček is the key to the Black Panthers offense. He led the league in passing and did not throw a single interception. But he is just as dangerous running with the ball. His favorite target is Jakub Wolesky, who finished third in yards and fourth in the number of receptions.

However Steelers running back Dominik Dvorský paced the team in the semifinals rushing for 131 yards and two touchdowns. His teammate Luke Wildung adds to a deadly Ostrava running attack.

Both teams are tough to run against. The Black Panthers allowed 35.6 yards per match while the Steelers ranked second with 67.2 yards. The Steelers may have an edge against the pass as Prague’s Ladislav Jenšík is out with a broken collarbone and Ostrava safety Garrett Griffieth and corner Lukáš Česlík are a deadly combination.

One of the keys to the Black Panthers is the play of their special teams. They led the league in turnovers thanks to their special teams.

Another key factor for Prague is head coach Jesse Thompson. His 14 years of coaching experience at the professional, college and high school levels, can be crucial With Ostrava relying on Luke Wildung to run the offense and Garrett Griffeth to serve as defensive coordinator, there is no true head coach. As well as this duo has handled their duties this year, in a championship game, an experienced head coach could make a difference.

Nevertheless, this game is still a toss up.

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