WATCH LIVE! – Portugal Bowl VIII: Lisboa Devils v. Maia Renegades

Ten teams started the season in Portugal back in November 2016 with one goal in mind – to make it to Portugal Bowl VIII and win it all. Now, Saturday April 8 2017, two teams remain and only one will be crowned champion in Evora.

Will it be the Lisboa Devils or  will it be the Maia Renegades?

The Devils path

The Devils have reached their second championship game in two seasons. After going undefeated last season and capturing the national title they look to be in a great position to repeat the deed with only one game left. This year their offense has put the best numbers that the Portuguese League has ever seen with a combined 511 points scored with an average of more than 50 points per game.

On the other side of the ball their defense has only surrendered 111 points and is for the first time in their history ranked as #1 in the League. The Devils path (10-0-0) has been made up of a very productive offense with a defense that has been keeping other offenses to fewer and fewer points as the season went on.

After an outstanding regular season, they beat the Sharks (52-22) in the second round of the playoffs and now look like the favorites to win it again after arriving here undefeated and on a 20 game winning streak.

The Renegades path

The Renegades were the first team launched in Portugal and their history dates back to 2005. However, this is the first time they have advanced to a championship game and that came after a merger that occurred last off season when the Maia Mustangs and Porto Renegades came together to create the Maia Renegades. This move allowed the Renegades to finally get some stability and focused themselves in winning games on the field. This translated into their best season so far (9-1-0) and now being in a position to win the so anticipated title. Their offense has scored 300 points in 10 games with an average of 30 points per game. Their defense is ranked #2 in the League and has been improving while the season moved on.

In the second round of the playoffs the Renegades beat their cross town rivals the Porto Mutts 36-24 and they enter the championship game on a 7 game winning streak and facing the only team that was able to win against them in the regular season.

History

The teams don’t have much history between them with only two games played. The first one was played back in 2014 (LPFA5) when the Renegades won (41-19) at home against a Devils team that was in its debut season. The second game was played in week 4 of this past regular season and the Devils won 30-0 while playing at home.

If we go and look at the post season record of both teams, the Devils are 4-2-0 and they are 1 for 1 in terms of championship games. The Renegades are 1-1-0 and this is their first appearance in a championship game.

The Clash: Offense, Defense and Special Teams

For the Devils. expect their offense, led by Joey Bradley (second season in Portugal, and Europe) to come out ready to play. With a lot of weapons in the passing game (Collin Franklin, Bernardo Solipa, Pedro Almeida, Pedro Flores and Bruno Cardoso) expect the Devils to make use of all their players. In the ground game expect Willian La’Prado (20 touchdowns in 9 games) to come ready to make use of his power running style.

The Renegades offense will be led by Brian Gessel (an international and experienced quarterback) and will make use of Michael Campbell who is an all-around threat. In the passing game, Awal Umaru is a vertical threat and then count on Miguel Vasconcelos and Vasco Pinheiro to be making plays. In the backfield, Carlos Matos and Hugo Lopes are players who can make plays happen when they get a shot.

Regarding the defensive match-up both teams have what we will call “No Name Defenses” with all 11 players being able to make plays happen. On the Renegades side they are commanded by safety Awal Umaru and on the Devils side middle linebacker David “Jardas” Martins is the anchor. Throughout the season the Renegades defense gave up 16 touchdowns (11 rushing and 5 passing) while the Devils defense allowed 15 touchdowns (8 passing and 7 rushing).

Special Teams are also a big factor for both this teams with the Renegades having kicker Miguel Simões who has the highest % of field goals made. Both teams also scored touchdowns on punts/kickoffs. For the Renegades, the biggest weapon is Michael Campbell who can use his speed to hurt you. And on the Devils side they can use any of their three imminent threats: Danny Tam, David Silva and Pedro Almeida.

Fun Fact

No matter the outcome of this game one player is already a champion. Carlos Matos is currently running back for the Renegades but started his season playing in Lisbon for the Devils. After week 6 he moved back to his hometown of Porto and went to play for the Renegades. Now he will play his old colleagues in the championship game knowing that no matter the result he has already earned his medal.

What we can expect!

If you ignore the game between these two back in December 2016,  you would find two undefeated teams. That match was played under heavy rains with the Renegades not having one of their best players available. Now both teams will face each other at “full strength”, with great weather conditions in a championship match that is highly anticipated.

The Devils might have the advantage and may be considered favorites going into the game but look for the Renegades to come into this match with a lot of history behind them and ready to prove that they are the team to beat in Portugal.
No matter what, on April 8th, Évora will be the stage for one of the biggest championship games ever seen in Portugal.

Why is the Championship Game played in Évora?

To answer this question, we contacted the Portuguese Association of American Football (APFA) and they told us that Évora was the place elected to host the final back in June 2016. For many years a group of people has been trying to get the right conditions to make football a reality in that city. The Évora Longhorns are a project that has existed for a long time but they were not able to get all things on track to compete in the Portuguese League of American Football.

With the championship game being played in Évora a big step was taken to make this finally a reality – local government authorities are highly involved in the game’s organization and the Longhorns will benefit from that exposure. Hopefully the team will compete in 9th edition of the league, whether in the 1st or 2nd division is as yet not known.

Watch Live: Saturday April 8, 2:45 pm (8:45 am EDT)

Andre Amorim
André Amorim has been involved in American Football in Portugal for over 9 years, having played and coached in the only two teams that have won championships in that country. From 2007 to 2013 he played and coached with the Lisboa Navigators the most entitled team in all Portugal that also participated in international matches on the Spanish Second Division. For the past 4 years has been the head coach of the Lisboa Devils, current title holders in Portugal. Besides coaching, Amorim also works in the human resources field with personal development, team building and training. You can follow is coaching trip in IG @coachamorim.“
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