Lou Tilley Previews Super Series VI – The China Bowl Playoffs
- Updated: November 1, 2016
Saturday, November 5, 2016 – Shanghai, China – Super Series VI – The China Bowl
Game 1, 2:00 pm, Shanghai Oriental Stadium Arena, capacity: 18,450
Matchup: Dalian Dragon Kings (0-5) vs Shenzhen Naja (2-3)
Head coaches: Terry Bates / J.W. Kenton
At stake: Playoff battle for 5th Place
TV: iQIYI – Announcers: Wuzhi Lu, Robert Wang and Sandra Parks / ONE World Sports – Announcers: Mick Moninghoff and Lou Tilley
This game is a playoff for fifth place in the CAFL season. It features two teams that brought radically different approaches to the indoor game – attempting to rely heavily on the run. This is a rematch. The teams met in the Super Series weekend one opener in Beijing. Dalian, operating from the shotgun formation on offense, fumbled four center/quarterback exchanges and turned the ball over inside their own 20 yard line five times. Shenzhen also featured a run/option attack from the shotgun, but held on to the football and took advantage for the win. Dalian changed to a more traditional attack in week two, but were then bit by the injury bug and lost key starters. They arrive winless in five games, but have earned respect with a stout defense led by defensive player of the year candidate LB Ameer Ismael. He enters this playoff game with a league leading 55 tackles, 18 of them for losses, 3 QB sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 4 fumbles recovered, 2 blocked kicks and an interception. American all-star Kent Richardson is a standout on defense and has been effective when forced to play receiver. The Dragon Kings will him and others as a compliment to the outstanding pass combo of QB Jawad Yatim to WR Talb Wise, who ranks third in the CAFL in pass receptions with 35 through 5 weeks.
Shenzhen arrives on the heels of an upset of China Bowl finalist Qingdao last weekend in front of 4,200 of their home fans. Shattering CAFL records, the Naja relied on their offensive line of guards Colin Madison, Max Westphal, and Chinese center Jia Qi Zhang to lead quarterback Dak Britt on 24 runs for 115 yards. In all, the Naja used 34 rushes and just 18 passes to win 47-40. Britt is not only a shifty runner, but powerful near the goal line, and scored 4 times. Britt leads the CAFL in rushing with 67 carries for 374 yards and 13 scores. Naja head coach J.W. Kenton and assistant Alex Gerke spent much of the summer in Shanghai putting in extra training time with the new Chinese players on their roster, and it is paying dividends. Receiver Shida Wang has improved steadily to show among the CAFL’s best. This team plays with passion and intensity, but has hurt themselves at times with penalties and turnovers, and still the Naja have been in contention late into each of their games. They challenged Beijing until the final 4 minutes in their matchup. Shenzhen will be favored to beat Dalian in the first game of the CAFL China Bowl playoff weekend.
Game 2, 7:00 pm, Shanghai Oriental Stadium, capacity: 18,450
Matchup: Shanghai Skywalkers (3-2) vs. Guangzhou Power (2-3)
Head coaches: Derek Stingley / Ernesto Purnsley
At stake: Playoff battle for 3rd Place
TV: iQIYI – Announcers: Wuzhi Lu, Datong Wang and Sandra Parks / ONE World Sports – Announcers: Mick Moninghoff and Lou Tilley
Many had selected the Skywalkers to earn a spot in the China Bowl championship game.
That would have been the case, had it not been for the season’s only field goal, kicked by Qingdao’s Cha Ron Li as time expired in Super Series weekend IV. Shanghai never trailed in that game until Li’s kick split the uprights and shattered the ‘Walkers China Bowl hopes. Shanghai did not let down last weekend however, and bounced back to drub Dalian 63-20. They have the league’s most dynamic offensive trio in QB Shane Austin, who is surrounded by 2 all-around threats in Mike Washington and Shane Kauleinamuku. Both line up as wide receivers, but have become keys in the Shanghai run game as designed by head coach Derek Stingley and Offensive Coordinator John Lyles. Washington is a contender for Offensive Player of the Year, as is Austin. The two have connected through the air 40 times for 525 yards, and 13 touchdowns. Washington has added 2 scores running and returning kicks. “SK” who is also explosive after the catch, is the more powerful runner. He has scored 16 times, 4 via the rushing play. Overall, Austin has completed 102 of 168 passes (61%) for 1182 yards, with 28 touchdowns and just 5 picks. In their most recent victory over Dalian, Shanghai saw their defense surge as well with 3 interceptions, and two returned for touchdowns.
The Guangzhou Power will be a formidable foe for Shanghai in this playoff battle for a third place finish. With the league’s most impressive roster of drafted US stars, their defense is especially impressive. It features featur versatile front liners in Tyre Glaspar and Frank Trotter, along with ball hawking Cameron McGlenn, all of whom are candidates for CAFL Defensive Player of the Year and All-CAFL honors. On offense, veteran quarterback JJ Raterink has discovered a surprise weapon in massive runner Dashawn Johnson, who ranks third in the league in rushing. At 6-3, 315, but with extremely quick feet, Johnson not only runs well, but has worn down defenses with his bruising carries. Raterink has then been able to free up his receivers, with Derrick Brooks an explosive wide out and a proven threat to reach the end zone anytime he touches the ball in the open field. And when the field shrinks, Raterink has the CAFL’s most effective red-zone target in Levasier Tuinei. The 6-foot-5 240 pounder has 18 total catches coming in, but 10 have been for touchdowns. With perennial US all-star center Brennan Carvalho setting up next to league #1 draft choice guard/tight end David Wang, this is a team that can live up to its nickname on any day.
Game 3, 3:00 pm, Shanghai Oriental Stadium, capacity:18,450
Matchup: Beijing Lions (5-0) vs. Qingdao Clippers (3-2)
Head coaches: Clint Dolezel / Rod Miller
At Stake – The CAFL Championship – The China Bowl Trophy
TV: iQIYI, Announcers: Wuzhi Lu, Datong Wang and Sandra Park / ONE World Sports, Announcers: Mick Moninghoff and Lou Tilley
Beijing will likely be favored to win the first-ever CAFL championship, this weekend’s China Bowl. The Lions are undefeated at 5-0. Even more impressive, while some teams seem to be feeling the effects of 10 weeks on the road, in the form of injuries and fatigue, Clint Dolezel’s team is undoubtedly peaking. The head coach is coming off a US championship just 9 weeks ago and will go for an international double on Sunday. Dolezel took a different tact from the very start, when he used the CAFL draft to pick experienced US lineman around which to build his patented short, crisp, quick passing game. Blockers Neal Tivis and Wayne Tribue are among many familiar faces from the coach’s Philadelphia Soul teams. Defensive end/linebacker Calvin Fance is quick enough that he actually returned a kick in the current season – for a touchdown! It was called back, but Fance is almost stoppable as a pass rusher. Part of Beijing’s Chinese defensive roster is 38-year old Paul Cheng, fighting on the defensive line. An MMA champion, the Taiwanese Chang is a part-time Hollywood actor as well. A surprise headliner on Beijing’s defense has been young defensive back Torez Jones. A part-time player in the US, Jones has exploded with big plays in the CAFL. A leading contender for Defender Of The Year, Jones leads the league with 6 interceptions and 6 caused fumbles. Still, no-one has more marquee power than James Romain. The defensive back has scored on interceptions and kickoffs, and 5 times as a pass receiver. And that brings us to the Beijing quarterback. Luke Collis (6-3, 225) stands tall in the pocket in more way than one. With a stat line of 110 completions in 154 attempts, for 1178 yards, and 24 touchdowns against just 2 interceptions, Collis easily leads in almost every qb category. While Beijing uses more Chinese natives in their pass attack than any CAFL team (in one game, Collis spread passes to an unheard of 9 different relievers, – 4 of them were from China including Erwin Sennet Wu who ranks among league leaders,) his go-to target is a another proven US star. Collin Taylor has great size and strength, as well as speed and the knowledge to read defenses. Taylor has often been wide open to snare 38 passes for 509 yards. Add to that,the league’s most proficient kicker in Patrick Clark – Beijing has been, and will be tough to beat.
The Qingdao Clipper is happy to have the chance to spoil Beijing’s unbeaten streak. They are lead by one of the CAFL’s oldest, but perhaps best, quarterback in veteran Bryan Randall. The 34-year old starred at Virginia Tech, and spent several seasons playing under Beijing coach Clint Dolezel, Randall has evolved into a great combination of accurate short passer, deadly long thrower, and nimble scrambler. His 13-yard tuck and run to the end zone in Super Series week IV was one of the most exciting plays of the CAFL season. While Randall’s raw stats may not measure up to Collis or Austin, Randall’s leadership and clutch play delivery cannot be missed by the naked eye. He has a powerful 1-2 punch to work with on offense. Head coach Rod Miller drafted small and tall at wide receiver with big results. Virgil Gray (25 catches for 597 yards and 11 tds) might be the CAFL’s best pure deep threat, but it was the emergence of tall target Xavier Boyce (6-4, 235) in the red zone that keyed the upset of Shanghai and sent Qingdao to the title game. Boyce finished with 11 catches and 3 TDs in the thrilling last second win that was capped by China native Cha Ron Li’s field goal as the buzzer sounded to end the game. Still, beating Beijing will boil down to stopping the Lion’s roar on offense. And on defense Qingdao has a proven pair who might be able to do just that. Matt Moss, a former US Defensive Player of the Year is at a defensive end, and current US Defender Of The Year Jake Metz will line up, well, wherever he wants in Miller’s defense. Metz, at 6-6, is the JJ Watt of the CAFL. He can take over a game by himself.He will probably need to, in order to help defeat Beijing and take the China Bowl home for Qingdao.
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With the official announcement of approval from the China government, the new professional league will be called CAFL (China Arena Football League), and the Beijing based operating company, formerly known as Ganlan Media International, will carry the same name.
“We think this acronym says it all,” said David Niu, the President of AFL Global, the founding corporation based in Conshohocken, PA, USA. “The league, and all of our efforts, are unique to China. We want to highlight the fact that we are playing American-style football, not to be confused with soccer. And we want to emphasize that this is China’s first ever professional league, played by the best players in the world.”
Many of the rosters will feature Chinese players, who have been learning and training for the arena game specifically for over a year, at 6 select Chinese Universities, under the guidance of AFL Global.
CAFL headquarters are located in Beijing, with leadership comprised of senior media executives and sports professionals with an array of government and commercial experience.
For more information please contact the following:
Lou Tilley, VP CAFL Communications and Media
Alvina Alston, CAFL Public Relations