LPFA 2015: Preview Championship Game
No próximo dia 30 de Abril iremos ter a grande final da Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Americano e teremos frente a frente os Lisboa Devils (9-0-0) e os Algarve Sharks (6-4-0). Num ano em que a competição esteve envolta em alguma polémica com algumas decisões que causaram alguma confusão e estranheza para quem acompanha o nosso desporto, uma coisa é importante ressalvar: a competição e espectáculo aumentaram.
O Caminho… Lisboa Devils
No Grupo Sul os Lisboa Devils dominaram as restantes equipas sem terem perdido nenhum jogo, sendo que os Crusaders Futebol Americano foram a equipa que mais perto estiveram de lhes conseguir infligir uma derrota. Em todos os jogos contra as equipas desse mesmo grupo os touchdowns foram constantes e a defesa nunca conseguiu ficar sem pontos marcados. No entanto, nos últimos três jogos disputados – todos contra equipas do Grupo Norte – sofreram apenas 3 touchdowns e em dois desses três jogos conseguiram não sofrer pontos, tendo dois “shutouts”. Perspectiva-se uma equipa dos Devils motivada e com algum favoritismo para o seu lado por aquilo que fizeram na fase regular e nos playoffs.
Jogadores a Manter Debaixo de Olho
Joey Bradley (QB#2), Collin Franklin (WR#11), Pedro Almeida (#7), Willian La'Prado (RB#21), Filipe Conceição (CB#25) e David Martins (LB#37).
O Caminho… Algarve Sharks
Os Algarve Sharks, também no Grupo Sul, foram uma equipa mais com alguns altos e baixos nos jogos disputados dentro do grupo, sendo que perderam quatro jogos (dois diante dos Devils, um contra Crusaders e outro contra Navigators). No entanto nos jogos que realmente contavam foram capazes de mostrar trabalho e nos últimos três jogos disputados (excluímos a vitória diante dos Mutts em secretaria) também sofreram apenas quatro touchdowns e conseguiram um “shutout”. Importante ressalvar que os Sharks estão com quatro vitórias consecutivas e chegam a esta fase da competição com mérito e com muita sede de provar que favoritismo dentro de campo conta pouco.
Jogadores a Manter Debaixo de Olho
Ryan De Loureiro (QB#1), Brandon SooHoo (WR#3), Matthew Craens (WR#23), Mário Ribeiro (OT#50) e Filipe Correia(CB#20).
Nos últimos duelos disputados entre estas duas equipas os resultados foram:
LPFA VI – Sharks 07-33 Devils (Faro)
LPFA VI – Sharks 00-47 Devils (Lisboa)
LPFA VII – Sharks 29-48 Devils (Faro)
LPFA VII – Sharks 16-48 Devils (Lisboa)
No sentido de recolher um bocado o sentimento generalizado de ambas as equipas por terem chegado a esta fase da competição, aquilo que sentiram ao longo desta travessia e de que forma perspectivam o duelo de dia 30, fomos falar com Ryan De Loureiro, quarterback dos Algarve Sharks e com Joey Bradley, quarterback dos Lisboa Devils.
Ryan De Loureiro
Team: Algarve Sharks
Last Team you played (Before Portugal): Eastern Connecticut State University
Years Playing: 16th
Team: Lisboa Devils
Last Team you played (Before Portugal): University of New Haven Chargers
Years Playing: 17th
How was it coming from the United States and face a new reality with American Football in Portugal?
Ryan: “Being of Portuguese heritage, I've always wanted to come to Portugal. But it wasn't easy leaving behind my family, friends, and girlfriend for an extended period of time like I have. However, knowing I'd be coming to play football definitely lightened the load for me.”
Joey: ” This experience has been nothing but positive for me. I've enjoyed playing here as well as just living and being part of the Portuguese community and culture. Obviously the language barrier presents the biggest challenge, but through my short time hear I feel I have learned quite a bit. The main difference from football in America to here is here is not as serious as it is when you're in college. Cole football is essentially a job where you work 30-40 hours a week between practice/workouts/film study/meetings. So although it was more laid back than what I have been used to, it was nice to be able to relax and enjoy myself more than usual.
How were your expectations regarding the season?
Ryan: “As with every season, I came in expecting a championship. I feel as though you need to expect success in order for it to come; you don't just stumble upon it.”
Joey: “I honestly had no idea what to expect before moving here. I had never been to Europe before, and I hadn't seen much of American Football in Europe besides a couple
And now that the season is closing on and you are going to play the most important game of the season, Championship Game, how do you envision that moment?
Ryan: “As cliche as it sounds, we just need to approach the championship like every other game.”
Joey: “I see this as an awesome moment in my career/life and a huge moment for Portuguese Football as there will be a new champion for the first time in the history of the LPFA.”
During this Season which was the biggest challenges you had to face?
Ryan: ” I think the biggest challenge of the season was instilling the physical mindset that football requires. From day 1, we saw that we had talent, we just needed to figure out a way to bring it out of the players and I think that's also been our biggest success of the season.”
Joey: “The biggest challenge throughout the season was keeping guys focused and hungry through the long by weeks. There were some instances where we would have 3 or 4 bye weeks in between games, and that is very challenging mentally sometimes.”
Do you believe your team can win this game?
Ryan: “I've never played in a game where I didn't think my team had a chance of winning. I'm not saying it will be easy, but we certainly have a chance.”
Joey: “Of course I feel my team can win. We have had success all season, and I believe in our guys. It should be a great game.
What would you change in American Football in Portugal?
Ryan: “The sport just needs to grow in Portugal, that's all. Bringing in imports I think really helps that, and not just Americans. The sport is young here.”
Joey: “I would say the “off-field” organization as a whole needs to improve. Scheduling and refereeing would be at the top of the list. In my opinion, it's ridiculous that the semi-final game was not played because of scheduling conflicts. That kind of thing cannot happen if the league wants to grow and be considered legitimate globally.”
Would you recommend other Imports to come to Portugal and play?
Ryan: “As a player who thought his career was over after college, I would definitely recommend any player who truly loves football and wants to play at least another season to come play in Portugal.”
Joey: “I definitely would recommend to imports to come to Portugal, as long as they have the right mindset coming in to this experience.”
Any last words?
Ryan: “I would just like to thank the Algarve Sharks organization for taking a shot at a short quarterback from Connecticut. Also, the Portuguese people in general. Their hospitality has been unbelievable. I was lucky enough to come to a team with teammates as great as mine. I'm thankful for them every day I've been here.”
Joey: “Go Devils!!!”
A Grande Final
Uma coisa é certa, no dia 30 de Abril, na Maia, teremos um jogo espectacular entre os Devils e os Sharks. O vencedor do encontro e da competição só saberemos quando soar o apito final mas quem teve a oportunidade de ver ambas as equipas a jogar sabe que a modalidade ganhou em termos desportivos com a presença dos atletas que compõem ambos os elencos e quem se deslocar para ver o jogo ao vivo terá uma tarde muito bem passada. Por isso, não percas este duelo que se irá realizar no norte de Portugal no último dia do mês e onde ficaremos a saber quem são os novos campeões de Futebol Americano em Portugal.
Fotos de Alexandre de Sousa Photography