PREVIEW: France’s Elite 2015 – Molosses d’Asnières-sur-Seine

Saturday, February 7th Elite American football is back in France. This is part of a series of previews to find out 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 the Molosses d’Asnières-sur-Seine from Paris.

Molosses d’Asnières-sur-Seine

A finalist in the 2014 Elite French Championship, the Casque de Diamant, the Molosses of Asnieres-sur-Seine are out to prove in 2015 that they did not make the final simply by chance. But will they be able to repeat their performance? Check out this preview featuring Molosses Head Coach Jerome Dondey.

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The Molosses had to wait fifteen long years before returning to play in a French final. Last season, when nobody expected them to reach that level, the club reached the final step of the Elite championship. And they very nearly fashioned an upset, falling in the end, to the Thonon-les-Bains Black Panthers by the slimmest of margins, in one of the best finals in Casque de Diamant history.

The team appearance may have been a surprise to everyone else, but not to Jerome Dondey:

 “Last year, 75% of my players had been working together for six seasons. It could therefore legitimately claim to meet the playoffs in 2014, and this is also the goal we set ourselves.”

If the success of the Molossians was built on hard work and patience, Jerome Dondey praises the spirit of his players:

“We really felt that this group was working as a family. This is a big point of satisfaction since I have spent several years working to instill a sense of passion and spirit in the team.”

Add a boost of fate and you get a season that will be remembered. The spectators at Stade Geo André in La Courneuve still remember the semi-final played against the Flash. While the Courneuviens were seemingly headed straight to the final, the Molosses scored the winning touchdown with two seconds remaining in the game to get the upset.

Memorable for Jérôme Dondey:

“You know, from the moment you arrive in the playoffs, it’s a new season, anything can happen, and that’s what happened to us.”

One thing is certain, the scenario will not be quite the same this year as opponents are now forewarned, and the Molosses will not have the element of surprise. But the coach is confident:

“You know you will be expected to perform and that it is up to us, as a team, to be ready. Dondey reminded his players in the offseason of the importance what he calls ‘invisible training’; if part of the work is done on the field, we must realize that another large part is done outside of it; body, diet and attitude are all just as essential as on-field play.”

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Head Coach Jérôme Dondey

But perhaps more importantly, Jerome Dondey is putting a squad of players on the field filled with confidence. This is an unprecedented situation for Molosses and ideal way to start the season,

“We’ve always had a talented team, but every year it was shooting itself in the foot because we were not focused enough, we walked through some games. This season, I feel the players are even more mentally strong.”

Made in Europe

This offseason allowed to Molosses to work at all position as well as acquire new American imports. We start with Evan Gehlert, who replaces Tommy Corwin at quarterback.

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Evan Gehlert

After four years at the University of Urbana (NCAA D2), the 25-year quarterback tried the European adventure in 2012, joining the  Paderborn Dolphins  in Germany (GFL2). This year, he will thus be playing in the French league for the first time. This is not the case for 31 year old Mike Douglas as he knows the French league very well having played for six years with the Templiars Elancourt. Highly versatile (he can play offensive line, tight end, defensive line and linebacker) Douglas, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts brings invaluable experience to the team.

The third American import, Garrick Williams, is well known to Molosses fans having played for the team in 2013. The 6’3″ 290 lbs offensive lineman, who played for Wake Forest University (NCAA Div. I) has dual passports (US/UK) making him an invaluable addition to Coach Dondey ‘s squad.

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Mike Douglas

For the head coach of the Molossians, the three American players who have played in Europe, offers a sense of security.  Some imports may turn around and go home early but with this kind of experience, Dondey knows there will be no problems.

“I want to believe that we have better potential.”

In addition to its foreign reinforcements, the Molosses have signed a dozen French players like defensive backs Guillaume Bazile, Swann Bezin and  Lionet Toucet.

His goal is to improve competition at each position. Dondey:

“This year we have a bigger roster than the previous seasons, which will bring more competition to each position, and therefore push the players to progress.”

The coach nevertheless remains cautious on the eve of the new season:

“I want to believe that we have better potential than last year. After that, there is always something unknown in relation to our QB who seems to have a good level, but who came to us in early January.”

The first game of the season is always a relief. The months of planning and preparation are over and everything comes down to football in the field.

The Molosses head to Stade Geo André in La Courneuve once again to face a Flash team bent on revenge for last season’s semi-final loss.

This will be a game to remember.

Profile of the Molosses on :


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