Thonon-les-bains Black Panthers Triple Power Threat

The Thonon Black Panthers with a 3-1 record have improved considerably on their dismal 2016 season in no small part due to a running game which has bulldozered its way to the top of the rushing stats in France.

Of its league-leading 170 points Thonon has scored so far this year, the running backs have accounted for 96!

In the first four games of the 2017 season, the Black Panthers have rolled up 1,249 yards of rushing or an average of 312 yards per game. Against the La Queue en Brie Gladiateurs alone the team rushed for 435 yards and five touchdowns with Andreas Betza leading the way with 170 yards and three touchdowns.

Andreas Betza leads league in rushing Photo: Jy Hell

It is no wonder then that the Thonon offense is on fire.

League leader Betza has carried the ball 34 times for 418 yards and seven touchdowns. He has had two 170+ games.

When asked what has changed for the team and for himself this season Betza replied:

A lot of things ! Block schemes, offensive line and hustle. All the team has trained hard to be where we at right now. A lot of personal investment, film study with the unit and at home too. We really want it as bad as that.

Stephen Yepmo Photo: Jean Fotso Photographe

What has new head coach Fabien Ducousso meant ?

I thing the coach want to see us hustle more than that. We did good but can always do better. We all will be satisfied when we will bring the cup home. We have to work to beat every team we will play against and show them who we are and also play like they never seen another team play like that.

Not far behind him is Stephen Yepmo who returned to Thonon after spending a year with the Geneva Seahawks in Switzerland under his former coach Larry Legault. The human bowling ball has rushed 37 times for 381 yards and six touchdowns in four games and scored six touchdowns.

Vincent Begou

The third member of this deadly rushing triumvirate is Vincent Begou who has 21 carries for 291 yards and two touchdowns but has the highest average of 13.85 yards a carry, more than a first down every time he touches the ball.

Needless to say, every team facing the Black Panthers this season had better strap on their helmets and get ready for a battle. Because it will definitely get physical.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.