Monday, June 3, 2013

2013 French Division III Southern Conference Championship Game

After three weeks of waiting, the Falcons were finally playing a game and not just any game mind you . . .

 French Division III Sud Conference
Championship Game

Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons (10-0)
Sud Poule C Champions
South #2 Seed
Montrabé Comètes (10-0)
Sud Poule A Champions
South #1 Seed

We were in for a tough game needless to say, playing the Comètes for the Sud (Southern) Conference title.

The Comètes were a high scoring (32.7 points per game) Wing-T team.

They also played intimidating defense (2.7 points allowed per game). In fact, no team had scored more than 6 points on the Comètes in a game and they had only given up 27 points on the season!

As if that was not enough of a challenge, based on Montrabé's #1 seeding in the Sud Conference Playoffs, the Falcons would have to board a bus for a delightful seven hour journey through the South of France to the City of Toulouse where the game was to be played.

Zero Dark Forty

We arose at 4:00 a.m. and were at the stadium parking lot by 4:40.

We were due to take off at 5:00 a.m. but, very predictably, one of our key players was late. We thus embarked at 5:39 a.m.

 Smoke, Bathroom and Eating Break

About half way to Toulouse we took a 40 minute break in our journey through the Provence and Languedoc regions.

Team bonding at its finest! 

 Finally arrived at 12:14 p.m.

High-tech French graphic arts are still quite sublime.

 This Way

 The Toulouse Ours Stadium

If you recall, this game was originally scheduled to be played one week ago but heavy rains in the Montrabé area had made there field unplayable. The rains continued this week so the game was moved to Toulouse to the Division II Ours' (Bears) Field Turf stadium. The fact that the Ours Division II playoff game scheduled for Sunday was being played away from Toulouse was certainly fortuitous for us. 

Funky Sideline Numbers

 Our Juniors Making Banners

A large contingent of our Junior team made the trip to Toulouse on their own to support the Seniors and their favorite son . . .

Mehdi Camarasa Fan Club

Mehdi is a very rugged Junior linemen who was brought up to the Seniors this week now that their season is over.

He earned his first Hammer decal on a kickoff.

The Comètes Banner 


Chevrolet? McDonald's?

The stadium had a fully functioning scoreboard. For the first time in five years of coaching American football in Europe, we all new exactly how much time was left on this splendid scoreboard.

For some unknown reason, the numbers did not show up properly on any of Laurie's pictures but to the naked eye it was scoreboard heaven on earth.

Lines, Numbers, Hash Marks
American Football Goal Posts

Amazing . . .
More High-tech French Graphic Arts 

Another Day at the Office

Stephen Wohlert

Stephen is our Defensive Coordinator. He continues to do a GREAT job preparing our team every week and brings an edgy passion to our team.

He is a huge reason as to why we are still playing this late in the season.

QB Bruno Chapuis Warming Up

 Comètes Helmet Cam?

He only wore it during the pre-game warm ups.


Hammer Time!!! 

#90 DT Will Lacôm

 Nice Vertical

FS Ismael Sánchez and QB John van den Raadt saying hello during the mandatory license check. They would both have great games today.

Finally, it was time to play.


The Comètes won the toss and decided to receive the kickoff.

 Well Played

The Comètes decided to go for it on Fourth Down at their own 42 yard line. Our defense stopped them cold.

Given a short field, the Falcons attack went into high gear with a good mixture of running and passing. The key play on this drive was a pass from John van den Raadt to Pierro Theyssier down to the two yard line. John would score the game's first TD on the next play with a walk in run thanks to some outstanding blocking by the offensive line. We opted to go for two points in order to score more points on our first drive than the Comètes had given up in any of their first ten games. We felt that this would be a very crucial psychological message to send to the #1 seeds. Thibault Rontet got into the end zone easily and the Falcons were up 8-0.

 Pierro Theyssier's Big Catch and Run

I must mention that because of the last minute change in the date of this game, we were not going to have Pierro's services today as he was scheduled to start his first day at his new job in Lyon at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Saturday afternoon he changed his mind and bought a one-way airplane ticket from Toulouse back to Lyon that would both allow him play in the game and get back to Lyon in time for work.

Priorities and sacrifice!!!

 Romain Nefise celebrates VDR's
walk into the end zone

 Thibault Rontet's Two Point Dash

Good kickoff coverage by the Falcons pinned the Comètes down to their own 28 yard line. Their attack got a First Down but would be forced to punt. We were not able to field the low, laser like punt that would roll dead at our one yard line. 

LB David Ollagnier on the tackle  

 Pressuring the Montrabé punt

 Backed Up

 VDR was HOT!!!

#19 WR Chris Garel on the reception
VDR called me "Sir"

No, really.

As the First Quarter came to a close, the Falcons were driving and still led 8-0.


 Falcons Pass Attack

The Falcons got to mid-field but the Montrabé defense stiffened and forced us to punt. Mathieu Paredes delivered with a a good pooch punt that died at the Comètes' eight yard line.

Tackle for Loss

Montrabé's offense went Three and Out, Punt (T&OP) for the first time, as the Falcons were really playing well on defense.

Pressuring the Comètes' Punt again


 Steven Berthomier with the Rock

All four of our running backs played well yesterday. Thanks to our defense we started our next drive at our own 48 yard line. Brice Rontet had a couple of very physical runs that set up a five yard van den Raadt TD pass to Gaetan Tafa. Brice Rontet added the two point conversion and the boys from Bron-Villeurbanne were ahead 16-0.

Good Punch Franck!


 #77 Mehdi Camarasa
on a Kickoff Tackle

Cut Back

It was at this point where the Comètes started to show their championship heart by not giving up and getting a very good drive going. They picked up a couple of First Downs and set themselves up with a First and Goal as the half was coming to a close. Defensive linemen Remi Laurencon and Joel Tchibozo combined for a huge QB sack to derail the Comètes' plans. On Fourth and Goal at the two yard line, FS Ismael Sánchez came up with a big play in tackling the Montrabé ball carrier for a two yard loss.

 An Ismael Sánchez Facial Massage


Tackle by Ismael Sánchez

van den Raadt to Romain Nefise

After this completion, the Falcons opted to take a knee to end the half leading 16-0.


Spirits Ran High in the Locker
Room during the Intermission

 Romain Nefise Kickoff Return

The Falcons had the ball first in the Second Half and returned the kickoff to their own 49 yard line. The Comètes were penalized an additional 15 yards for a late hit so the Falcons were now working with only a 36 yard field. The Offensive Line did their job and the drive would finish with a one yard TD run by Mathieu Paredes. VDR found a wide open Nefise in the end zone for two more points and the Falcons' lead was pushed up to 24-0.

Game over right.

No, wrong.

 Good Pass Protection

Thibault Rontet Loose Again
Big Surge for a Paredes TD

Romain Nefise for Two Points
Montrabé Kickoff Return to the HOUSE!

The Comètes refused to go away as their ensuing 80 yard kickoff return for a touchdown would attest. They would not have gotten to 10-0 if they lacked courage and heart. Their attempt to score an additional two points was to no avail as the Falcons advantage had been cut to 24-6.

Montrabé Two Point try after a
penalty on their first attempt
pushed them back a bit

 Pierro Theyssier Kickoff Return

The Comètes were now sky high as they felt that the emotional tide was starting to turn. Penalties and a huge tackle for loss put the Falcons in the shadow of their own Goal Line. A short punt to the Falcon 45 yard line further added to the Montrabé spirits.

This excellent play was called back
VDR's big run gave much better
field position to punt

The Comètes have very cool sox


The Comètes would not give up as this 42 yard Montrabé TD run would serve as evidence. Ismael Sánchez would block their PAT kick but things were getting dicey as it was now Falcons 24 - Cométes 12. 

 Ismael Sánchez "Blocks That Kick!"

Now the Montrabé defense was really fired up again! They forced a Falcon Three and Out, Punt and it was another short punt again.

As a result, the next Comètes' drive started on the Falcons 30 yard line. TROUBLE! It did not help that the Falcons were called for a helmet-to-helmet hit on First Down. Fortunately, the Falcons' defensive pride came to the forefront and the Comètes turned the ball over on downs.

 Still Swarming

 Pass Rush

Fire The Cannon!

It was now time for the Falcons' attack to reassert ourselves. We would on this drive. Brice Rontet would continue his physical play to spark the entire team on this possession and Romain Nefise made a very crucial reception. In the end, VDR would hit Pierro Theyssier on a five yard TD pass. Our two point attempt failed but we led 30-12.

By the way, those 30 points, in less than three full quarters of play, were three more points than the Comètes had given up in their first ten games combined!

 Did I mention the Brice Rontet
is a physical runner?

 Theyssier for SIX!!!

VDR Sprinting Out

defense . . . Defense . . . DEFENSE!!!

The Comètes had the ball as the Third Quarter ended with the Falcons leading 30-12.


The Montrabé drive continued but ended with a T&OP, their second of the day. The punt came on a Fourth and 34 situation as the Falcons' defense was at it again.

 More of Brice Rontet
in Clock Management Time

A poor Comètes' punt gave the Falcons the ball at the Montrabé 20 yard line. VDR found Pierro Theyssier open in the end zone for the second time today for a Falcon TD. Papi Bastiand came in to kick the PAT and he split the uprights perfectly. Bron-Villeurbanne was starting to celebrate on the sideline leading 37-12.

Pierro Theyssier's Second TD Catch

Papi Bastiand is Pumped Up
after kicking a PAT 

Big Hit on a Kickoff

OLB #69 David Ollagnier

David normally wears the number 51 but opted for number 69 today to honor his close friend and Falcons offensive tackle Baptiste Gabriac who has been unable to play since December due to back problems. Baptiste finally underwent surgery two weeks ago and hopefully will be back in attendance as our DJ at next week's Division III National Championship game.

The Falcons defense was tough again, T&OP #3.

#20 RB Steve Berthomier

Icing on the cake time, as Thibault Rontet would score a rushing TD from three yards out. Papi added another PAT and it was now 44-12 Falcons!

 WR #80 Gaetan Tafa

 WR #29 Ludovic Dornier


 Tackle for Loss

Another dominant performance by the defense as we racked up our fourth T&OP.

Bruno Chapuis at the Helm

 Franck Berenice Romping

The Best Play in Football

Victory formation brought the game to a close with the Falcons taking home victory #11 on the way to hosting the French Division III National Championship game on Sunday, June 9th against the Northern Conference Champion Tours Pionniers (9-0).

The Best Feeling in Football!!!

Joy. Sheer wonderful JOY!!!


 Falcons' President Christophe Thuau
Doing a Traditional French Victory
Dance at Midfield by Himself

Hugging and Bouncing

 Happy, Emotional Frenchmen


 VDR and Stephane

Two BIG reasons why we are 11-0!

 Papi Bastiand was one of many Falcons
shedding a tear or two of joy today

Not me of course, I'm way too stoic.

Yeah, right.

Dog Pile!!!

Take it Easy Thibault

Why is this man smiling?

Support from Home
John, Robin, Beth and VDR

I thought that VDR played a great game today. Perhaps his best of the season. He scored a TD and threw for three TD passes and a two point PAT without any turnovers against what was billed as the best defense in the South of France.

Part of the reason for this stellar performance may have been the fact that for the first time in his EuroBall career, he would have his parents, John and Beth, and his delightful girlfriend, Robin Portela, at the contest.

 Two REALLY Old Gentlemen

I felt SO GOOD for Papi, our SS, who played his best game of the year as well.

What a FUN Group!

Mathieu Paredes, Armand Mbonjo and Sam Avajon wanted to take a picture with me, suddenly . . .


VDR and Pierro Theyssier
connected for two TDs today

 FS Ismael Sánchez
"The Spaniard"

Yes, pretty much just like the character in the movie Gladiator.

OK, maybe "The Catalan" would be more apt.

My first ever post-game
Champagne Shower 

 What a GREAT idea!

I was really tempted to suck on my sweatshirt on the long ride home after being thoroughly doused in a fine vintage Brut.

With VDR and the Offensive Line

With the QBs and WRs

Cute Couple, don't you think

 The Spaniard earned the Game Hammer

I think that he was happy.

An Impromptu Team Photo

It is interesting how team's tend to linger on the field for a long time after a perceived big win.

We really lingered after this one.

I didn't think that we would ever get on the bus for the long ride home.

Finally, the bus departed Toulouse at 5:55 p.m.

 "Whatever Happens in Vegas,
Stays in Vegas!!!"

The same thing applies to long bus rides home through the romantic South of France after a big win.

The Bus Driver's Tom Tom

The ETA for the ride home says 1:34 a.m. We actually arrived at the stadium at 1:40 a.m. and at The Villa at 2:00 a.m. 

It was truly a long but very gratifying day.

Let us take a look at what the DIII playoffs final week.

Sud Conference Championship Game Result
#2 Bron-Villeurbane 44 - #1 Montrabé Comètes 12

Silver Helmet Division III French
National Championship Game
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Tours Pionniers (9-0)
2013 Nord Conference Champions
2012-13 Nord Poule D Champions
Bron-Villeurbane Falcons (11-0)
2013 Sud Conference Champions
2012-13 Sud Poule C Champions

Ten months ago, in September, 43 Division III teams started to practice for the right to win the French Division III National Championship.

Now there are two.


Olivier R said...

I have to write this, sorry: the bus never rolled in historic provence yesterday!!!

itzbfitz said...

Great job Falcons! From what I understand, the Pioneers run a Wing-T offense like the Comets, so your defense already has a feel for what's to come. Hope youe air-game is the difference. Bonne chance à vous tous.

George said...

Damn it Olivier, you take all of the romance out of my stories!!!!!!!!

Have you never heard of "Poetic License?"

George said...

Merci Fitz!!!

Anonymous said...

I have an explanation about the scoreboard.

It's a question of refreshment speed vs persistence of vision.
It looks like continuing time for human eyes, but not for the processor Inside the camera, which speed is higher than the scorebord.

Fred "Papi" Bastiand.

George said...

Merci Papi, that explains it!

Olivier R said...

Lol George!! But why does poetry have to have " provence" in it? you could have said " the bus trip made us pass thru the beautiful provinces of Dauphine, the principauty of Orange, the old papal lands of the Comtat and Languedoc" ... That looks quite poetic to me!

George said...


That was AWESOME!!!