Monday, June 25, 2012

A Strange Finish to the Tigers' Season in Fribourg

Sunday was Game Day! It was our last one of the 2012 season for our Seniors as we traveled to Fribourg for a rematch with the 0-9 Cardinals who we beat at Frutigen last Sunday 29-0.

My main concern going into the game was would Fribourg have the necessary 18 players suited up in order to be allowed to start the game. This had been a real issue for the Fribourg eleven the last few weeks. Last Sunday they were able to dress the bare minimum against us. I was not as concerned as last week because traditionally teams usually are able to get more players at their home games. Fribourg would suit out 21 Cardinals today.

Another very unforseen circumstance would crop up, but first let's take a look at our U-19's game against the Cardinals.  


The Fribourg sports complex included a bocce ball hall, I had to check it out while the U-19s got dressed for the contest.

With real live bocce ball players

This was a tough game last week for the Tiger cubs who eked out a razor thin 15-14 victory to hang on to their lead in the NLB standings.

The two game playoffs start next Sunday and the outcome of today's game would determine if our squad would earn the NLB's top seed and a home game against the NLA's #2 team. A loss would mean the NLB's #2 seed and a road trip to the home of the NLA's top team.

In the Swiss League's three divisions (NLA, NLB and NLC) teams are assigned to a division based on the strength of their Senior teams. The U-19 teams are sucked up or down with their Senior squad regardless of their own relative strength.

Shorter Field Today 

Fribourgs field is only 80 yards long but Gilman sold them a full set of sideline markers and, by God, the Cardinals were going to use them.

Roland Andrist asked me if he would get credit for 20 more rushing yards each time he crossed the "50."


That issue resolved, it was time for the U-19s to play.

Laurie was ready!

The Tiger cubs were ready! 

Head Coach Stephan Pulver
had a few last words,
he was ready! 

They were not ready AT ALL!
C Daniel Joost & LB Jonathan Jeitziner

One part of the subplot to today's game for the 7-1 Tigers was the unexplainable continued dwindling of numbers at the U-19 practices and at today's game. Additionally, injuries and an ejection at last week's game would leave Thun without three key starters.

Only 19 Tiger players were suited up for this game compared to 22 for Fribourg. The U-19 rules state that you cannot start a game with less than 15 players in uniform.

Let's PLAY!!!

QB Nico Leibundgut lets one fly

Interesting Cardinal DL stance 

 Nace Trendafilov

Pass Protection Break Down 

Defensive Swarm


Catch by Angelo Valentino

Nico Leibundgut scrambling

The Cardinal QB is tough! 

The Pivotal Moment of the Day

As is very normal in EuroBall, due to a very limited number of referees, that one crew of offiials works both games.

The Head Referee or "White Hat" that you see here is both a good guy and a high quality official from our past games with him in charge. In the fourth quarter of the U-19 game a player's cleats some how scrapped down our White Hat's shin opening up an ugly, gaping, bleeding wound that would require him to go to the hospital via an ambulence.

The Swiss rules state that under such a circumstance you can finish a game without the fully licensed White Hat BUT you cannot start a game without one!

"Bern, we have a problem!"

#22 Johnny Brunner

The game was as hard fought as expected, with the score tied at 0-0 after one period.

In the second quarter, QB Nico Leibundgut did one of his patented scrambles from 8 yards out to score the first points of the game. Daniel Gafner's PAT kick split the uprights and Thun led 7-0 at the half.

Nice block by Johnny Brunner

The Cardinals started the second half with a nice TD drive of their own but missed the PAT. Tigers still were leading the game by a tally of 7-6.

Fribourg would score again midway through the third quarter to take a 13-7 lead.

Gut Check Time for Thun!  

The Tigers RESPONDED!!

A GREAT fourth quarter. I believe it to be the U-19s' best 12 minutes of the season!

Nace Trendafilov seen in the picture above scored on an 8 yard run and Gafner was perfect again. Thun leads 14-13.

Johnny Brunner for SIX!!! 

The final period was all about the Tigers' Offensive Line exerting their will and physically dominating the line of scrimmage!

From the beginning of American football in 1869 until today, teams that can run the ball in the fourth quarter usually win.

Today in Switzerland it was no different as the Thun U-19s shared in their finest moment . . .

A 21-13, come from behind,
victory on the road!!!

Coach Arne Denecke was PUMPED!

So were the U-19 Players!!

As were the Tiger Seniors, in white,
who congratulted the U-19s!

Stephan Pulver after his surprise
Victory Shower

The four team U-19 Playoff schedule is as follows:

Saturday, June 30:
NLB #2 Geneva Seahawks (7-2)
at NLA #1 Basel Gladiators (8-1-1) 

Sunday, July 1:

NLA #2 Zurich Renegades (8-2)
at NLB #1 Thun Tigers (8-1)

Saturday, July 7:
The two semi-final winners will meet in the Swiss Junior Bowl Game that will be played in Basel before the Swiss Bowl Senior Championship Game.

It was time for the Seniors
to warm up, many wearing
very chic sunglasses

Unusual Pre-Game Conference

Meanwhile, referees and team officials were scrambling as fast as they could to try to find a replacement White Hat to start the game. The Swiss rules state that we were allowed until 2:30 p.m., 30 minutes after the scheduled kickoff time, to find one.

We still had a hour and five minutes until the deadline. Swiss cell phone lines were working overtime.

Mathias "Darth" Krebs
was ready!

RT Mathias Krebs' Helmet

To explain his decals, the four "O" decals are for his four Offensive Player-of-the-Week awards, the four "Tiger" decals are for our four victories, and the 29 "Dying Cockroach" decals are for his devastating and demoralizing flat back blocks.


No, after everyone's great efforts, we could not find a licensed Head Referee. He would wear the hat but the official game could not be played as per Swiss League rules.

Since the outcome of the game would not effect the standings it was decided to play a Friendly, i.e., a scrimmage with no kicking game instead.

Whether our record stayed at its current 4-5 or 5-5 with a win or even dip to 4-6 with a loss, we were firmly entrenched in fourth place regardless.

The same for the Cardinals. Their 0-9, 1-9 or 0-10 record still meant sixth place in the final league table.

Thus we embarked on our Friendly which would consist of all dives starting at the offense's own 20 yard line, two 45 minute running clock halves and one very unhappy American coach who wanted his team to end the season on a three game winning streak.

The Tigers vaunted passing attack
took the field first

WR Adrian Jüsy
loose in the secondary 

Another dart by QB Rolf Zybach


Partially hidden Tiger CB Luke Brüllmann returning an interception to end Fribourg's first possession.

Fullback Dominik Müller
ran well today

Fribourg's barefoot Head Coach
Luis Samaniego

Tiger workhorse
Roland Andrist

Roland steamrolling a defender

That is not very unusual, but on the left, seeing Mathias Krebs in a full spirnt is VERY rare indeed!


Men at Work

At this point of the Friendly, we were about to throw an interception as our offense moved the ball well on each of our first four possessions but had no points to show for it.

Our defense had throttled the Cardinals' first three possesions with a huge QB sack by OLB Johannes Brunner almost recording a Safety.

Still, we were listless and definitely not focused.

Bizarre Play for a TD

On their fourth possession, Fribourg finally got their first first down in two weeks to set up the Friendly's first score.

The Cardinal QB threw a long pass into double coverage along our left hash mark. Our DB attempted to tomahawk the ball into the grass but instead it exploded across the field about 20 yards to the right hash marks where a lonely Fribourg WR caught the ball with no one near him since all of the Tiger players were sprinting to the original receiver.

The result was a very bizarre 40 yard TD pass play and a 6-0 lead after we stopped their two point play.


Roland Andrist answered the call

The Tigers got serious in a BIG hurry and ran the ball down the Cardinals' collective throats.

The ball is not that heavy

Roland got the ball again . . . and again . . . and again!

QB Rolf Zybach
finished the drive with a sneak

Roland added the two point PAT and it was 8-6 Thun.

Nothing says EuroBall more
than cigarettes on the sideline

At the half it was still 8-6 Thun

It was time for a "Do Better" talk. We would play the second half playing true Tiger football.

FS Mario Wyssen interception

This was a great way start the last 45 minutes of the season.

More Roland led to . . .

A one yard Rudy Bohren TD run

The two point PAT fell short of the Goal Line but we still led 14-6.

Miracle Catch?

When in doubt, give it to Roland

Roland ripped off a 50 yard run and would finish this drive with a five yard TD run to extend the Tigers' lead to 20-6.

Dr. Christian Warzecha's
kids were playing Hide-and-Seek

Nicolas Küng's debut at QB

We had decided last Friday to let our starting WR play some QB in this game if we had a fourth quarter lead. We were forced to do so earlier than planned when starting QB Rolf Zybach suffered a knee sprain which hopefully is not serious.

Nicolas' first pass

WR Simon Andrist made a fantastic catch which was nullified by a Thun penalty.

Nicolas' First QB Sack

Mario Wyssen's second
interception of the day

He returned this one 30 yards for the last TD of the game.

Dominik Müller scores the last
two points of the Friendly

It was now 28-6 in favor of Thun and the Friendly would end with that same score.

Roland wanted the rock

I was more than happy to give it to him.

MLB #99 Killian Brunner
at WR, oh my!

#25 DB Thomas Sager

More about him in a second.

Final handshakes of the season

The Tunnel of Love

As it turns out, after the last game of the season, a Tiger who is retiring must go through a team gauntlet called "The Tunnel of Love" as part of his farewell to the game.

Thomas Sager, #25, is hanging up his cleats for the last time this day.

Mathias Krebs earned the
"Hammer-of-the-Game" award

Thomas Sager saying
good-bye to football

A happy group Tigers

Mischa Künzi
The Original Hula Man

About three weeks ago, he started a hula related chant after practice one night that caught on with the team like wildfire!

Laurie decided that Mischa needed a real Hula Hoop for our last game.


The Three Biggest Tigers of them all!
L. to R., RT Mathias Krebs,
me and RG Bruno Krebs

So ends another great season of coaching the game I love, in a country that I can't get enough of, with a group of men and boys for whom I have the greatest respect.



David said...

So what country beckons next season?

George said...

The United States of America