Spain: 4th round will feature plenty of fireworks plus a battle of unbeatens

The Spanish League of American Football heads into its fourth weekend of play with, hopefully, a full slate of games for the first time since mid December.

Both the second and third rounds were hit by obstacles in the form of the pandemic and the weather, but prospects for this weekend look brighter. In the past month a total of four games have been postponed/canceled.

Two weeks ago, three of the four games scheduled were able to be played while the fourth between the two Madrid teams, Osos Rivas and the Las Rozas Black Demons, was postponed due to COVID-19 cases on one of the teams. In the second round, three of the four games were postponed.

Only two of the eight teams – the 2-1 Mallorca Voltors and the 1-2 Zaragoza Hurricanes – have managed to play all three scheduled games. The Badalona Dracs (2-0), Murcia Cobras (0-2), Gijon Mariners (0-2) and Fuengirola Potros (1-1) have completed two games while the Las Rozas Black Demons (1-0) and Osos Rivas (0-1) have only played one game.

Saturday, Feb. 13. Badalona Dracs (2-0) @ Las Rozas Black Demons (1-0), 5 pm CET

This could well be the game of the week as the undefeated Badalona Dracs head to Madrid to face the unbeaten Las Rozas Black Demons. Badalona downed the Mallorca Voltors 37-14 two weeks ago while the Black Demons game against crosstown rivals Osos Rivas was postponed due to positive cases of COVID-19 being discovered.

The two teams squared off in the 2019 Spanish title game with Badalona coming away with a comfortable 47-6 victory. They did not play each other in 2020 but when the season was abruptly canceled due to COVID-19, each had identical 5-0 records and appeared headed to a second straight championship final.

Players to watch: For Las Rozas, Canadian quarterback Chris Merchant is looking forward to his first game after he arrived in Spain in January. The other two were postponed/canceled. From Western University, he is one of the best quarterbacks to come out of Canadian college football in recent years. Tight end Mavin Saunders (Florida St.) as well as linebacker William Lloyd  (Troy University) and defensive back Darius Robinson (Clemson) make Las Rozas a serious contender. For Badalona, quarterback Cory Benedetto (Morrisville State)  is a key to an already potent offense. On defense, defensive end Mike Taylor (Georgetown) is a tackling machine.

Prediction: This will be the game of the week in Spain with both teams capable of making big plays. The Black Demons are playing at home and look poised to surprise but Badalona’s experience gives them the edge.

Saturday, Feb. 13. Osos Rivas (0-1) @ Murcia Cobras (0-2), 5 pm CET

The Murcia Cobras were surprised by the Zaragoza Hurricanes on January 30, losing a tight game 17-14 while Osos Rivas saw their game against the Black Demons postponed due to the coronavirus.

The last time these two teams faced each other, in 2019, Murcia came out on top 64-41.

Players to watch: For Murcia, QB Robert Cuda (Case Western Reserve University) is a wild card. He threw for one touchdown two weeks ago and scored another one himself. Receiver Andy Vera scored as did running back Antoni Montón. For Osos Rivas, new running back Mike Gentili is waiting to make his debut. Gentili is the Italian national team running back and spent the 2020 season playing for the Helsinki Roosters in Finland and Sweden’s Örebro Black Knights.

Prediction: This one is a toss up although Gentili gives Osos Rivas a slight edge.

Saturday, Feb. 13. Gijon Mariners (0-2) @ Zaragoza Hurricanes (1-2), 6 pm CET

Zaragoza earned their first win of the season two weeks ago, beating the Murcia Cobras 17-14 while the Mariners were shut out by Fuengirola 10-0.

The Hurricanes have beaten Gijon the last two times the two teams met, squeaking by them 8-6 last year and 12-9 in 2019.

Players to watch: For the Hurricanes, quarterback Dustin Hawke Willingham had a successful debut two weeks ago, engineering two touchdowns for Zaragoza in their win over the Cobras. The Mariners rely on quarterback Marcos Martínez as well as running backs Javier Castañón and Miguel Quince.

Prediction: Zaragoza is playing at home and if Willingham has had a chance to gel with the offense, the edge goes to the Hurricanes.

Sunday, Feb. 14. Mallorca Voltors (2-1) @Fuengirola Potros (1-1), 12 pm CET

The Potros are coming off a 10-0 blanking of the Gijon Mariners two weeks ago while Mallorca fell heavily to the league-leading Badalona Dracs 37-14.

This will be the third ever meeting between the two teams. Mallorca defeated the Potros 41-6 a year ago before the season was canceled and 41-0 in 2019.

Players to watch for: Mallorca include the quarterback/receiver duo of Tanner Young and Jaylon Hibbs while Potros’ Finnish quarterback Henri Väänänen has given the team an injection of excitement.

Prediction: The Voltors will have too much firepower and should take this one.

AFI
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