Spanish Bowl: Osos Rivas Rookie QB Russell Tabor sets sights on Championship Game

The 30th Spanish Bowl kicks off on Saturday as a pair of Madrid-based teams in the Osos Rivas and the Las Rozas Black Demons face off in Madrid in a rematch of the 2023 title game which saw the Black Demons capture their first Spanish crown. 

Leading the way for the Osos Rivas is 21 year-old American quarterback Russell Tabor, who has guided his team to the league championship game in his first professional season.  

After spending the last three seasons at the University of North Carolina behind future NFL quarterbacks Sam Howell and Drake Maye, Tabor joined the Osos Rivas before this season started.  In seven games this season, he has completed 110 of 170 pass attempts for 1,491 yards and 23 touchdowns with just four interceptions.  He’s also added 25 carries for 146 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground.  AFI caught up with Tabor to discuss the championship game and the season as a whole.

AFI: How would you describe your individual season and the team’s season as a whole this year? 

Russell: This season has been nothing short of an amazing experience for me. We have put in a ton of work to make the strides that we have as a team thus far. The love of football which my Spanish teammates have displayed throughout every practice and film session has been inspiring and is what has carried us to this point. I have really enjoyed seeing the growth we’ve had as a team throughout the year, especially offensively. We have ten receivers who have scored multiple touchdowns on the season, and they all come to practice ready to work and push each other every day. Most importantly, our offensive line has improved dramatically throughout the year; we could not have made it this far without their performance down the stretch. Paired with it is, statistically, the best defense in the league, who have also busted their tails all year in practice and have elevated their play week after week.   

Watch the Spanish Bowl. Oso Rivas vs Las Rozas Black Demons, May 4, 17:00 CET (5 pm, 11 am EDT).

AFI: After a couple of close games against the Black Demons this year, what’s your team’s general attitude going into the game on Saturday?   

Russell: We know it is going to be a fight. None of us are running from that, and we are all eager for the challenge. They know us, we know them. It’s all about who executes and who steps up when it matters most.   

Photo: Lola Morales

AFI: What aspects of the game do you think will be the keys for victory?   

Russell: I think this game is all about who steps up in the biggest moments. Close games are often decided by the outcome of a few big plays. As they say, pressure bursts pipes but it also makes diamonds. Adrian Melendez is a great example of this. When I went down this season, he elevated his level of play to give this team exactly what we needed. That is the type of response to pressure that the winner of this game will exude. This game is what everyone playing has been working towards for months, so emotions will be high on both sides. The team who is able to control their emotions through the inevitable momentum swings and step up in critical moments will win the day.   

AFI: As quarterback, how have you been preparing for this game, especially with having seen this defense twice already?   

Russell: We’ve really been trying to keep our scheme simple. It is always tempting for teams to over-gameplan for a big game, but we’ve tried to steer away from that temptation. We know that the only people who can stop our offense from executing is ourselves, so we are confident that our base offense can take us as far as we need to go as long as all 11 of us execute our assignments.   

AFI: As someone who’s in your first season overseas, how has the experience compared to your expectations going into the season?   

Russell: I typically try to be a pretty optimistic person, so although I knew things would be very different from playing at UNC. I was expecting the experience to be really fun and full of unforeseen surprises. The experience has definitely lived up to, and exceeded, that expectation. I have been blown away by the incredible people I’ve met through Osos, and I am very grateful to be a part of this team.   

AFI: What’s been your favorite part about your season with the Osos Rivas?   

Russell: My favorite part of this season with the Osos has been getting to know all of my teammates. They have welcomed me with open arms from the day Guiti picked me up in the airport, and I’ve really enjoyed all the time I’ve spent with them both on and off the field. I’ve played enough football to know that teams who really love each other go farther than those who don’t. I’m grateful to feel that way about this 2024 Osos team, and I am confident that many of the relationships I have built here will last a lifetime.

Watch the Spanish Bowl. Oso Rivas vs Las Rozas Black Demons, May 4, 17:00 CET (5 pm, 11 am EDT).

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.