Tirol Raiders battling to secure a playoff berth when they face Helvetic Guards in Innsbruck

The Raiders Tirol look to continue their quest for a playoff bid on Saturday as they host the Helvetic Guards in a European League of Football Central Conference clash.

At 6-2, the Raiders enter the week in a good position to make the playoffs with four games remaining in the season.  Despite their record, the team made the well-documented decision to make a quarterback change after their most recent game, which they won.  The new signal-caller in town is Joe Dolincheck, a product of Morningside University, where he won three national championships at the NAIA level.  Saturday’s game will not only be Dolincheck’s debut with the Raiders, but his first professional game in general.  The Raiders have a talented roster on both sides of the ball, and Dolincheck has a solid track record, but it is always hard to predict how well a quarterback will fit in with a new team, especially when his debut comes in the middle of the season.  Also making his debut for the Raiders this week is American receiver Trevon Sidney, who played collegiately at the University of Southern California, the University of Illinois, and San Jose State University, all at the Division I level.

On the other side, the Guards are out of playoff contention with a record of 3-6.  After starting out 0-5, the expansion team surprisingly rallied to win three games in a row but fell in their last outing to the Munich Ravens.  However, one of the teams they beat was the Stuttgart Surge, the Central Conference leaders, as they handed them their only loss of the season.  The winning streak after their slow start showed the league that the Guards have a lot of fight in them and will play hard every game despite their position in the standings.  As such, it would not be surprising to see them put a scare into their opponents this week, especially given the turmoil surrounding the Raiders.  The Guards are still looking for their first road win in franchise history and will have a chance to achieve that on Saturday.

These teams met back in week 2, as the Raiders picked up a 22-7 victory on the road.  The Raiders dominated their opponents in offensive yardage, but some turnovers forced by the Guards kept the game interesting.  Both teams will look significantly different on Saturday compared to their first meeting, as neither quarterback that will suit up this weekend was even on their team’s roster at the time.  Therefore, it remains to be seen just how much the previous game will foreshadow Saturday’s outcome.

Will the Raiders secure a crucial victory for their playoff push, or will the Guards pull off another upset?

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.