Sunday, June 9, 2013

" . . . AND O!!!"

Finally, The Final

After nine very long months of practicing, competing, playing, coaching and trying to hone the Falcons physical and mental skills to perfection, the moment had arrived.

It was time to put our perfect 11-0 season on the line against an outstanding 9-0 team from Tours, the Pionniers.

The Pionniers were this season's Nord Conference Champions and from having scouted them two weeks ago we knew that we were in for an extremely physical battle.

This week the Pionniers had to deal with an eight hour bus ride to Lyon, similar to what the the Falcons faced last week in our trip to Toulouse to play the Montrabé Comètes.

A note about why It's Great To Be A Falcon. Last week the Falcons' management team went the extra mile by hiring two bus driver's for our Sud Conference Championship game.

I just did not realize it until tonight.

It turns out that the Pionniers only had a single driver for their bus. French law says that after a bus driver finishes an eight hour drive, he MUST not drive for another nine hours. Thus, even though our game ended at about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night, the Pionniers could not even begin their eight hour return trip until 1:45 a.m. Sunday morning! Last Sunday, our second driver was able to take us home, according to the French rules, as soon as we cleared out of the locker room.

As I said, because the Falcons are a First Class organization, IT'S GREAT TO BE A FALCON!!!

Let me say at this point that one of the main reasons that we made it this far is that our practices had featured intense competition nightly between our offensive and defensive teams. We prided ourselves on the fact that no team we played competed with us in any of our games as well as we did against each other nightly.

Until tonight.

The game was as competitive, physical and demanding as a championship game should be.

Two GREAT teams were in Lyon to do battle for 48 minutes for the right to be called Champions! 


Stade Vuillermet Ready

The Staff of Workers

Beer in the Concession Stand

Our Kicking Game Charts Posted

Falcon Weather

Sandwiches Being Prepared

John van den Raadt's mother, Beth, and Significent Other, Robin, are seen here with other Falcon supporters preparing sandwiches for sale in the Concession Stand later in the day.

I wonder if the Manning family does this before their Super Bowl games?

Coaching Staff Relaxing

Shannon Tesseyre Taping

 Pre-Game Words of Wisdom

One-on-One Warm-Ups

 Positive Falcon Weather Omen

What "A Beautiful Day for an American Football Game!" 

It would rain throughout the game.

Old Falcons Pre-Game Reunion

Cheerleaders in the House

A GOOD Set of Referees


 Here Come the Falcons!!!

 We sang the French National Anthem
"La Marseillaise"

Dare I say it . . . IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!!!!

Here is a link to a clip of this stirring pre-game moment:

Import Pride

QB John van den Raadt and FS Ismael Sánchez both played well today.

Unfortunately, The Catalan didn't bring the hammer today.

He brought the SLEDGE HAMMER instead!!!



Pierro Theyssier Kickoff Return

The Falcons got the ball first at their own 30 yard line after Pierro's return. John van den Raadt went to work quickly hitting WR Chris Garel on a 54 yard catch and run down to the one yard line. After a negative yardage play by hard-hitting Pionnier defenders, VDR ran it in for the games first points from six yards out. The two point PAT try was not successful but the Falcons had the very early 6-0 lead.

Chris Garel's Big Play

On the Goal Line

Gang Tackling

The Bron-Villeurbanne defense came out in a foul mood. Tours, Three and Out, Punt (T&OP) #1.  Ismael Sánchez's hit on the Third Down play was wicked! 

DC Stephen Wohlert
had his troops ready to play!

#23 FS Ismael Sánchez

The Catalan is a very dangerous sniper indeed.

Falcon President Christophe Thuau
International Man of Mystery

The Apaches are Lyon's University team of American football.

MERCI for your support Apaches!!!

Big Catch by Romain Nefise

The Falcons' next drive was a solid, measured affair that concluded with a 12 yard TD strike from VDR to WR Gaetan Tafa. Again the Falcons' two point try failed but it was now Falcons 12 - Pionniers 0.

VDR runs for a key
Third Down Conversion

Gaetan Tafa for SIX!

Good Kickoff Coverage

Defensive Swarm

Pionniers suffer T&OP #2.  LB David Ollagnier made a good play in breaking up a pass on Third Down.

The Falcons were driving again as the First Quarter came to an end with the Falcons up 12-0.


The Falcons continued their drive deep into the Tours end of the field but the Pionniers defense stiffened and the Falcons turned the ball over on downs.

The Pionniers responded in the style of the champions that they are with their first good drive of the game that ended with 19 yard TD scramble by their QB. Their PAT attempt split the uprights and the team from Tours had cut the Falcons lead to 12-7.

RB Brice Rontet
A VERY Physical Runner

The next Bron-Villeurbanne drive featured a big 35 yard pass play from DVR to Pierro Theyssier. Eventually VDR would add a 30 yard scramble of his own for six points to answer his Pionniers counterpart's score. John would also run the ball into the end zone for the two point PAT and the Falcons were back in control 20-7.

defense! Defense!! DEFENSE!!!

Shannon working on
LB David Ollagnier's knee

She was very busy today as the two team's shared love for hitting would force several players on both squads to the sidelines temporarily.

VDR is loose!


"Does this shirt make me look thinner?"


Falcons defense does it again, T&OP #3. The big play this time was a QB Sack by DE Remi Laurencon. Remi would win the coveted Game Hammer at the end of the day.

The Pionniers' defense showed their grit and spirit with their first T&OP of the game.

The Tours' offense started to click again but a broken up pass by LB/SS Pierre Bouysset and a forced fumble by DT Joel Tchibozo and the subsequent fumble recovery by DE Anthony Bouvier spelled doom for the Pionniers.

The Pionniers were up to the challenge again, intercepting a Falcons pass in the end zone as the First Half was coming to a close.

The Pionniers opted to take a knee to end the Second Period.

State of the Art Scoreboard

At the Intermission it was Falcons 20 - Pionniers 7

Shannon and Olivier

Shannon is our incomparable Athletic Trainer.

Olivier is the owner of The Villa's favorite Lyonnaise restaurant, Sophie's

In an attempt to bribe me to come back to Lyon for another season of coaching the Falcons, he has offered free lunches for the season should we return.



The Pionniers continued to battle back. They returned the Second Half Kickoff for an apparent 75 yard TD but it was called back for an illegal block. The Falcons defense put out the Tours fire with T&OP #4.

LB Sam Ajavon on the Stop

 VDR can beat you with his feet or his
arm, but mostly he does it with his

The Falcons faced another apparent T&OP situation of their own as the Tours defense was unyielding. Falcons punter Brice Rontet deftly avoided a heavy Pionniers punt block effort and ad libbed his way to a First Down. Unflustered by this turn of events, a Tours LB would intercept a Falcons pass to end the threat.

The Falcons defense puts out the fire yet again with T&OP #5.

 Pierro Theyssier Punt Return

The next Falcons drive was an unfocused one with mistakes crippling a promising drive. While VDR did connect with Pierro Theyssier for a 25 yard pass play that had a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty tacked onto it, the Falcons would eventually punt the ball for a touchback.

VDR was flying around all night!

On the first play of the Tours drive, CB Loic Labrosse intercepted a Pionniers pass.

The Catalan was out with a severe
hamstring pull

Now it was time to lead the team as a motivator on the sideline. Leadership comes in many forms.

VDR would find WR Chris Garel for another 24 yard gain, as the Falcons were now eating up large amounts of the clock as a scoreless Third Quarter ended with the Falcons still leading 20-7.


This Falcons drive would again be stymied by aggressive Tours play but the Falcons turned the ball over on downs deep in Pionniers' territory. Still though, a lot of time had elapsed on the game clock.

OT Djamel Laib had to gut it out
with the aid of Shannon's skills

The Home Stands were PACKED!!!

The Pionniers had one last good drive in their arsenal but it was a very time consuming one. Eventually the Falcons defense stopped the Tours offense on Fourth Down at the Falcons five yard line.

The Final Pionniers Drive was a Blur

 They ran well but the clock
was running as well

Great Goal Line Defense!!!

The Falcons needed a first down to end the game. Two running plays brought up a Third and Four situation. RB Steve Berthomier came up huge as he ran over a defender to gain about seven yards and the season's final First Down. VDR now called for the best play in American football . . . VICTORY KNEEL DOWN!!!!

The game was over as two superb teams had both left everything they had out on that cold, wet field. After a scoreless Second Half, the final score was Bron-Villeurbanne 20 - Tours 7!!!

The Falcons had earned the title . . .
2013 French Division III
National Champions

Legendary Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant always said that "Offense wins games, Defense wins championships."

Tonight, the BEST defense in French Division III football proved the Bear's adage true again.

A tip of our hats to the Tours Pionniers. Their never say die, physical style of play left our players and coaches spent. The two squads combined to make this a truly memorable championship game.



Our two most senior Seniors
SS Fred "Papi" Bastiand and
OT Djamel Laib

Both of these great warriors were playing their last games or so I thought.

NEWS FLASH: It turns out that Papi is going to give it one more shot next season as the Falcons move up to the much more compact Division II (games March-June). The Division III schedule this season had games that spanned from October to June.

National Champs . . . nice way to head into retirement.

Hmmm . . .

VDR Post-Game Interview

The Apaches were in the House

Leaving it all on the field?

Scintilating Interview I'm Sure

Pure Unadulterated JOY!!!

Mathieu Paredes
GREAT team first attitude!

We had so many players with attitudes like Mathieu on the team.

Maybe that is why we won a FRENCH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.

The National Champs listening
to me one last time

I must have said something good

The David "Fion" Melin inspired National Championship T-shirts were a great surprise after the game and a BIG HIT with the players.

The Love of My Life

Papi receiving his National
Championship Medal

Romain Nefise:
"These are nice Christophe but
where are the rings?"

John van den Raadt
Our Unquestionable Leader

He earned the media's MVP of the Game trophy.

Well deserved.

Receiving My National Championship
Medal from Falcon's President Thuau

free Sophie's lunches for a season?"

Hmmm . . .

The Architects of our Offense
Julien Urgenti and VDR

Holding the National Championship
Trophy the team gets to keep
with DC Stephen Wohlert

Again, Stephen is the man who molded France's best Division III defense with both his will and his mind.

This Pionnier Defender was TOUGH

I don't know his name but I greatly admired his style of play!


Champions of an ENTIRE Country!!!

An Old Man and His Hammer

This photo is for you Sam Ajavon.

Let the Fun Begin!!!!!!!!!!

Champagne for the National Champs!

Steve "First Down" Berthomier

Big games produce unlikely heroes. Steven was one of those tonight. So were Guillaume Dine, Pierre Bouysset and Sylvain Pinay who filled in mightily for injured Falcon players on defense.

Laurie looked happy

I WAS happy!!!

The van den Raadt Family

How many hundreds of photos of various Falcon family member combinations holding the Casque Argent Trophy were taken?

"12 AND O!!!!!"


Olivier R said...

AM i the only one feeling those bribes are starting to make George think about postponing his retirement?.... D2 seasons are shorter you know...

Ed Ransom Jr. said...

Wasn't it Tours who passed on you?

George said...

No, it was the Toulouse Ours 2 seasons ago.

Olivier R said...

and the falcons will play the Ours next year. One more reason...

itzbfitz said...

Comme nous sommes fiers de vous tous! You and the Bryan brothers winning in France on the same day--Camarillo was well-represented! Look forwsrd to seeing you and Laurie soon.

Sam Ajavon said...

Tahanks coach for your photo ! you really look good with your hammer on the shoulder !!
Thanks for the amazing season !

It's great to be a Falcon !!!

Michael said...

Congratulations Falcons! Way to bring the hammer for 12 games.
Good job, Pops!

David Fion said...

I must agree with Oliver's posts !

George said...


They should really NOT play the Food Card first in this game of bribery!

Olivier R said...

It s because they could not play the girls card with Laurie here!