Turkish League of American Football kicks off 2020 season

The Turkish League of American  Football kicks off its 2020 season this weekend with eight teams in the hunt for the title that the Koc Rams have won for the past four years.

Along with the Koc Rams, the ITU Hornets, Bogazici Sultans, Hacettepe Red Deers, Yeditepe Eagles, ODTÜ Falcons, Gazi Warriors, and the Sakarya Tatankalari will all compete.

Koc Rams (2019: 9-0 Champions)

Winners of the past four titles in Turkey, the Rams are looking for a five-peat in 2020. Based on their record over the past few years, they are heavy favorites to do just that. They are on a 36 game winning streak in Turkey and have not lost a game since May 31, 2015 when they were beaten 10-7 in the Turkish final by the Bogazici Sultans. David Whipple has returned to quarterback the Rams for the third straight season. Explect an explosive offense.

METU Falcons (2019:6-3 Finalists)

The Falcons finally became contenders in 2019. They lost three games all year, two to the Rams, one of which was the Turkish title game which they lost 29-19. Expect them to continue to challenge in 2020. Wide receiver Ryan Malone has been signed for 2020 and will bolster an already potent offense.

Bogazici Sultans (2019: 5-3, Semifinalists)

Perennial contenders for the Turkish throne, the Sultans should again be in the running in 2020. They reached the final in 2018 and 2016 and won the championship in both 2014 and 2015. Bogazici were knocked out in the semifinals by the Falcons last year, losing a nail biter, 28-26.

ITU Hornets (2019: 5-3, Semifinalists)

The Hornets reached the semifinals for only the second time in their history last year. They were eliminated by the Rams 35-27 but not before giving them a scare. ITU has had only one season with a losing record in the past decade in Turkey. Look for another semifinal appearance at least this year.

Gazi Warriors (2019: 3-4)

The Gazi Warriors struggled in their return to the top league in Turkey in 2019 after a one year absence. After opening with a 3-1 record, they dropped their final three in a row, getting shut out badly, 63-0 by the Koc Rams in the regular season finale.

Sakarya Tatankalari (2019: 2-5)

The Sakarya Tatankalari had an up and down season in 2019 and actually performed better than their record indicates. Two of their losses were by two points and the Koc Rams had trouble against them, finally prevailing 20-12. With the addition of Dominque Hilt at quarterback and other key additions such as veteran Altamar Brown, the Tatankalari will be dangerous for any team in Turkey.

Yeditepe Eagles (2019: New to the league)

The Eagles return to the top league in Turkey after one season in Division 1. Yeditepe were relegated after the 2018 campaign which saw them finish winless with an 0-7 record. Will they be able to regain the form which saw them reach the semifinals in 2017 and push the Rams to the limit before losing 17-16? The signing of Serbian star wide receiver Strahinja Stepovic and Australian quarterback Brandon Gwinner signals that the Eagles do not intend to be doormats in 2020. The secondary has been bolstered with the addition of defensive back Mike James who returns after spending the 2019 season in Brazil.

Hacettepe Red Deers (2019: New to the league)

The Hacettepe Red Deers have spent the past two seasons consigned to Division 1 after suffering through a dismal 1-6 season in 2017. This is a team that a decade ago was among the elite in Turkey and reached the final in 2012. Look for them to struggle in their first year back though.

Graphics: Igor Lazarevic

 

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