Tirol Raiders look to bounce back in week 2 against Cologne Centurions

The Tirol Raiders will be looking for their first win in the European League of Football (ELF) Saturday, June 11 when they travel to Germany to face the 1-0 Cologne Centurions.

The Raiders debut in ELF last week was not the one they were looking for. Despite a close game, the 2021 Austrian Football League Champions lost 29-23 to the team they beat last year for that trophy, the Vienna Vikings.

This pill was no doubt tough to swallow for Tirol as they were looking to stamp their mark on Europe’s’ revival league. And to make matters worse, it was against their arch nemesis.

Despite the loss, the Raiders looked their normal self, outside of a few unfortunate offensive plays forced by the Vienna defense. Quarterback Sean Shelton threw the ball, a lot, and did well against one of Europe’s best secondaries. 

But for the Raiders, the most encouraging sight was Austria’s poster-boy wide receiver Philip Haun in black and white. The Danube Dragons former star receiver proved a menace for Vienna’s defense, picking up over 100 yards and a touchdown.

On the other side of the ball will be the Cologne Centurions. The loss of the top running back in the league, Madre London, to the USFL, has hurt the team significantly. He was arguably the league’s best player last year, and although he’s been replaced with Texas A&M alumnus Tre King, it’s not the same rushing attack.

The Centurions barely scraped by in week 1 with a win over the Istanbul Rams, despite snagging four interceptions – two of which were pick sixes. This was in part thanks to the play of their German quarterback Jan Weinreich who tore the Rams secondary apart with 337 yards and four touchdowns.

Today, the Centurions will be going against a tried and tested Raiders secondary. A team that prides itself on its cohesion and a strong Austrian base of talent. If Weinreich can have a similar performance, The Centurions will probably be in it come the fourth quarter.

For the Raiders and their golden talisman Sean Shelton – who looked mortal last week, more care needs to be taken with the ball. Turnovers in ELF are costly. But Shelton is a savvy veteran, he is unlikely to make the same mistake twice.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.