The Swiss playoffs get underway this weekend. The Calanda Broncos will take on the Winterthur Warriors in the first semifinal this weekend in Switzerland. Then the fast-improving Basel Gladiators will face the Bern Grizzlies in the other.
Saturday July 2
Calanda Broncos (#1) (9-1) – Winterthur Warriors (#4) (5-5)
Apart from a late-season loss to the Basel Gladiators, the Broncos have dominated the Swiss league in 2016. Two weeks ago, Calanda manhandled the Warriors 52-7 behind an outstanding performance by quarterback Josh dean who threw five touchdown passes and scored the other two on his own. Wintherthur finished the season at 5-5 but did give Calanda a surprise earlier in the season losing by a single point 27-26 after staging a late-game comeback.
Calanda has been averaging 42 points a game although Winterthur has been keeping opponents to 22 points per game. New head coach Evan Harrington has instilled a sense of pride in his club.
Quarterback Josh Dean is the key to Calanda’s offense. Dean threw for 2,566 yards and 38 touchdowns against only five interceptions. But he also carried the ball for 822 yards and another 12 touchdowns. So he accounted for 360 of Calanda’s 424 points scored in 2016.
In other words, stop Josh Dean and you stop the Broncos. Not an easy task.
The same goes for the Warriors. Quarterback Evan Pittenger played in the Warriors second game against Calanda this season throwing for 275 yards and four touchdowns in a 27-26 loss.
This game could boil down to a duel of quarterbacks.
Sunday July 3
Bern Grizzlies (#2) (7-3) – Basel Gladiators (#3) (6-4)
The Basel Gladiators enter their semifinal against the Bern Grizzlies with two straight wins to finish the regular season. They surprised the Broncos 39-32 and then edged the Grizzlies 26-24 in Bern to finish in third place. Although the offense has struggled throughout the season the defense has been steady giving up only 22 points per game, good for top spot in the league.
The two late-season wins by Basel under pressure should give Bern pause for thought.
The Grizzlies, despite a coaching shakeup almost halfway through the season, have played consistent football although the loss to Basel on the final weekend of the regular season will be in the back of their minds.
Bern quarterback Jacob Caron and Basel quarterback Sebastian Frausto have put up similar numbers this season so this should be an interesting matchup.
The game is significant for Bern as it is the first playoff game the Grizzlies have hosted since 2007.