Russia’s SuperLeague’s Rousing Opening Weekend

The Russian SuperLeague kicked off this past weekend with eight of the league’s 15 teams in action. Growth has forced an exciting new structure of Russia’s top American football league, so let’s review the action!

Two divisions – the Big 5 and the Volga – saw play.

Big 5 Division

St. Petersburg Griffins 38 – Yaroslavl Rebels 0

Russai - Griffins v. Rebels

The vastly more experienced Griffins proved to be way too much for the young Rebels who had to start their Superleague campaign with an away game against tough opponents. The hosts took them by storm from the very beginning: getting a field goal on their opening drive, scoring defensively on the ensuing possession, and then getting touchdowns on the next four consecutive drives.

Remarkably, all four (two rushing and two receiving) were scored by TE Andrey Ivanov, regarded by many as the best player in the nation at his position despite his relatively short frame. Leading 38-0 early in the 2nd quarter, the Griffins started to pull their starters out, until only the 2nd and 3rd string were left in the game by the start of the 2nd half. They couldn’t sustain the same level of pressure and didn’t get to the end zone again, while the reserve defense played much softer and allowed the Rebels offense to get into rhythm and consistently drive down the field. However, their turnovers ultimately never allowed them to get on the board and the second half ended scoreless.

Highlights: St. Petersburg Griffins  v. Yaroslavl Rebels

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After being involved in bringing American football to his hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia, Ilya would go on to play in the Japanese X-League, helping his side Tokyo Bullseyes advance all the way to the top tier of the league and become the only