Showdown in Brazil, Vila Velha Tritoes HC Lonnie Hursey looking forward to playoff battle

The Vila Velha Tritoes and head coach Lonnie Hursey march into the second round of the Brazil Football League playoffs this weekend facing a formidable foe. And a familiar one.

The unbeaten Bela Horizonte Sada Cruzeiro await and their coach Dan Levy is no stranger to the Tritoes or Hursey. Levy coached the Tritoes three years ago and recommended Hursey for the job there. Both coaches are veterans of international American football and know each other well, but the last time they faced each other  was in Norway in 2012 and Hursey’s team, the Trondheim Domers , came out on top in that one over Levy’s Kristiansand Gladiators.

Vila Velha fashioned a 4-1 record in the regular season and then vanquished the Patriotas in the first round of the playoffs. The Patriotas had been the only team to beat them in the regular season. In other words, the Tritoes have learned how to win.

With a number of former Tritoes players on the Cruzeiro roster, including the starting quarterback, the storylines in this game are plenty. Nevertheless, the best one is that of the two head coaches. They are good friends but on Saturday, they will be bitter enemies.

This will definitely be the game to watch this weekend in Brazil.

American Football International asked Hursey about the game and his season in Brazil so far this year.

Hursey guided the Tychy Falcons to the Polish top league

American Football International: You face maybe the biggest playoff game of your career this weekend. You are facing the former HC of your team and former players and also a good friend. How does that feel?.

Lonnie Hursey: Its defiantly a big game. For many reasons. Mainly because we want to continue our quest for the National Championship and SADA stands in the way. It will be allot of fun coaching against Dan again. We did once before in Norway and it was a very close game. I’m very grateful because Dan is the one I talked to last December if he knew of any teams that might be looking for a coach where I could bring my family and 2 days later I was talking with the team and a few days later I was their guy. No question about it.

AFI: You have been coaching overseas for a few years. Can you fill us in on where you have been?

Hursey: Football has been very good to me over the last 11 years. I have been able to live and coach in 8 countries (Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, India, Serbia, Poland and Brazil) on 3 continents not counting the US (Europe, Asia, and South America) I am very blessed to have been given the opportunity to do the two things I love most, coach football and travel the world.

AFI: You have known Dan Levy for many years. What do you expect?

Hursey: With Dan I expect a well coached team that is ready to play weather they are expected to win by 50 or its going to be a grudge match. It’s been about 6 or 7 years since we coached against each other and I’m sure how we coach and what we coach has evolved since then, but we have studied film and gone over everything with the team and we will be ready Saturday night.

Lonnie Hursey with Serbia’s Kragujevac Wild Boars

AFI: What are the highlights for you so far this season?

Hursey: This season has had many highlights. Coming in to a team where they were not expected to win many games after 6 of the teams best offensive players went to SADA, having in all but one of the skill positions on offense “developmental players” and watching their development has certainly been one of many highlights this year. Beating teams that came up here thinking it was going to be an easy win is always fun too. We might not win pretty or light up the score board but the guys know how to fight and there is 0 quit in them. That’s the kind of team I will take every time. Our defense coming in was already a pretty good unit but a few guys have really stepped up to fill holes and then believing in my way of doing things has made us one of the top defenses in Brazil we give up less than 10 points a game and are +13 in turnover margin in 6 games.

AFI:  How big is this game in Brazil? Will there be a big crowd?

Hursey: I’m not 100% sure how big the game will be in Brazil. For us its huge of course, but no one gives us a chance of winning. We are a team that was not expected to win much that does not have very much money against a team that bought all the “best” players in Brazil they could. When you mix that with a very good Head coach and his staff you never know how big of a game it will be outside of our teams. But I love our chances and I hope everyone in Brazil tunes in to watch. I know SADA will have a huge crowd. Hell they have not lost in over 400 days or something.

I would love to give allot of credit to our import Laparish Lewis. This guy is amazing. He works so hard, studies so much film, will play anywhere I ask. Hes got the best attitude of any player I ever coached and is a huge part of why our team has been so successful this year. I brought him to Poland 2 years ago and until he retires from football I will bring him any place I coach that needs any Athlete import. This year he has played DB, Return, QB, WR, RB and All special teams. Hes also tied for 1st place in total TDs this season in all of Brazil.

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