Last year’s Spanish finalists, the Valencia Firebats and Badalona Dracs have opened the 2016 season looking as if they were going to head back to a final.
Nevertheless, the defending champion Firebats were pushed in their opener against cross-town rivals the Valencia Giants but came away with the win while the Badalona Dracs taught the upstart Reus Imperials a lesson.
Badalona Dracs (1-0) 62 – Reus Imperials (0-1) 18
The Badalona Dracs gave newcomers the Reus Imperials a rude awakening in their debut match in Spain’s top division, trouncing them 62-18.
Running back Robbie Jackson ran for three touchdowns in the first half while quarterback Mike Box threw for three as well as the Dracs showed no mercy. Jackson opened the scoring on the second series and then Box found receiver Drew Clausen still early in the first quarter to give Badalona a 14-0 lead.
The Imperials closed the gap though as quarterback Allan Bridgford threw a touchdown pass to Nazih El Garas to make it 14-6.
Then the Dracs scored again before the quarter ended with Box hitting Clausen for his second score. Box was not finished throwing for a fourth touchdown, this time to Joan Carles Bartra, before Bridgford connected with Vailele Peko to make the score 28-12 midway through the second stanza.
But Robbie Jackson was not done scoring his second following an interception while Bartra scored his second. Reus closed the gap to 41-18 but Jackson struck for a third time on a 78-yard scamper to give Badalona a 48-18 halftime lead.
The Dracs added two more touchdowns from Javi Fernandez in the second half to win going away 62-18.
Valencia Firebats (1-0) 16 – Valencia Giants (0-1) 0
The defending champion Firebats did not have an easy time of it against the Giants, the only team to defeat them in 2015. These two teams last played each other in the 2015 semifinals and the Firebats were pushed in that game too before winning.
In fact, the Firebats could only muster three points in the first half which was dominated by defenses. Each team recorded an interception as Firebats kicker Pedro Blasco scored the only points of the half with a field goal.
Firebats head coach Alvaro Quezada watched his team pick up the pace in the second half as quarterback Thomas Murphy found receiver Alejandro Silvestre to give the Firebats a 9-0 lead in the third.
Murphy hooked up with Joshua Helmkamp in the final period to put the game away, 16-0.