PREVIEW: France’s Elite 2015 – Flash de la Courneuve

Saturday, February 7th Elite American football is back in France. This is part of a series of previews to learn more about the top teams of the FFFA, Fédération Française de Football Américain, and better understand the challenges of this new season. This preview comes courtesy of VoxStadium and Marion Santiago and has been translated by AFI.

Today, we will take a look at perennial French American football power, the Flash de la Courneuve. The Flash were shut out of the Elite series championship final last year and haven’t won the title since 2011. They are looking to return to their winning ways.

All of the Flash’s games this season will be broadcast live on VoxStadium. Tune in yourself to see this top team in action!

Flash de la Courneuve

The Flash La Courneuve, is undoubtedly the most consistent and successful team of the Casque de Diamant. However, in recent years, the dominance of Flash has not been as overwhelming as it was in the past. This does not worry the club’s manager, Bruno Lacam-Caron, who is eager to begin the new season.

Flash: The Next Generation

We must go back to 1996 to find the last time the Flash La Courneuve missed the Elite league playoffs. Since then, the club has collected nine league titles. This is the kind of track record that other clubs can only dream of. However, it has now been four seasons the Flash have been without a title. This is no small event in the world of French American football. Bruno Lacam-Caron believes this relative “under performance” can be explained logically;

“In our sport, there is always a time when your group of players changes generations. In the past three years, we lost 50 to 55 percent of our senior players who had more than seven years of experience, even more than a decade for some. It is a natural cycle.”

“Pour les noirs et jaunes!”

“The error of youth”

If the Flash have been under reconstruction for three years, the biggest construction site has been located on the offensive line. The “O” line is key for the smooth running of an American football team.

“You can have the best quarterbacks, running backs and receivers in the world, but if you do not have a line of men to protect the gaps it will not work,” says the Lacam-Caron.

There was also the question of whether to rebuild the o-line or reinforce other positions. The Flash typically go to find new weapons from there booming farm system, their junior and D3 teams.

Last year Bruco Lacam-Caron recalls the bitter experience of the semi-final loss against the Molosses of Asnieres-sur-Seine:

“In the regular season, we had beaten the Molosses by more than 30 points, but this did us no help. In the semifinals, our players arrived thinking we would beat them again by a landslide. It was a youthful indiscretion.”

Lacam-Caron points to some concentration problems, a lack of discipline, underestimating opponents, but he also acknowledges the coaching staff’s responsibility:

“Last year, our two foreign coaches did not get along at all. And while Patrick Cark (current head coach) took over the situation, we should have parted with our Canadian offensive coordinator earlier in the season. It was a management error on our part.”

However, the French team of coaches worked quite well, giving some ideas to Lacam-Caron.

French Connection

This season, the Flash will forego foreign coaches and the full staff will consist only of French coaches. The only exception is Daniel Connors. Connors was the team’s quarterback last season and will be assuming the offensive coordinator’s duties as well as quarterbacks coach. This is a novelty that could prove extremely valuable for the black and yellow. Lacam-Caron:

“Dan Connors has a very good coaching background. In the US, he has worked in high-school and college positions and this summer he participated in a training camp organized by the San Francisco 49ers.”

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Durand leaping over Black Panthers defenders.

With the quarterback position vacant, the leadership of the Flash has decided to entrust the job to Paul Durand. As his name suggests, he is not American but French. The Flash La Courneuve will be the only Elite club with a Frenchmen at the helm. A strategy that sounds like a bet on the future. “Not even 25 years old, Paul is a very experienced quarterback. He is key player for Team France and has already won an Elite championship with the Spartiates of Amiens. So it is very favorable for us to continue to play him, among others.” This is the idea of Bruno Lacam-Caron, who sees training of Flash’s French quarterbacks as a priority.

“With Dan Connors coaching, we will be able to train all of our quarterbacks, whether it is Paul Durand or Mustapha Sene (QB Elite substitute), as well as with all the players of other positions.”

From Florida to La Courneuve

With the quarterback position taken care of, it allows the Flash to use it’s import wildcards on Americans at other positions. This is evident in the recruitment of two new US imports, starting with the signing of Mark Joyce at cornerback. From the University of South Florida (NCAA D1), the 24 year-old has accumulated three interceptions, 181 tackles and assisted solo, 2 forced fumbles and 1 recovery during his three seasons. This is a real reinforcement for the Flash defensive squad.  On the other side of the line, the Flash have added Marcus Shaw, a running back also from the University of South Florida. “Marcus Shaw has shown impressive capabilities, especially on cuts. He’s very fast and aggressive in the game,” says Bruno Lacam-Caron.

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Marcus Shaw diving for the pylon.

Between Shaw and Durand the Flash offense may wreak havoc on Elite defenses this season.

Since September the Flash quarterback has been working on the development of offensive tactics, such as the option. This is the triple threat Bruno Lacam-Caron has been waiting to see work. “Between Paul Durand, Marcus Shaw, and the best set of receivers in France, I think defenses will not know which way to go! But of course, and as I have already said, the secret to success is the offensive line.”

Will the secret be unveiled Saturday, February 7th at the Stade Geo André in La Courneuve? This is where the Flash will host the Molosses d’Asnieres-sur-Seine for an opening day rematch of the last year’s semi-finals.

The opponent does not seem to worry the manager of the Flash.

“On paper, the Molosses may be in the Top 4 (of France). In reality, I have doubts about their team. I will not say that they reached the final last year by accident, but almost.”

Link to the Flash de la Courneuve profile on Europlayers.com here

Source: www.voxstadium.fr

Marion Santiago
Journaliste sur @PokerStars Sports Club / Rédactrice Foot US, NBA, Football @VoxStadium
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