For the second consecutive year, the Warsaw Eagles punched their ticket to Poland‘s national championship game with a win over the Wrocław Devils, going into Wrocław and shutting down a Devils offense that was without three of its key weapons in a 21-6 Topliga semifinal victory on Saturday. Warsaw advanced to the title game for the fourth time in the eight-year history of the Polish League of American Football.
The Eagles defense had little problem bottling up the Wrocław attack for most of the afternoon. The Devils came in without their best running back, Xavier Glenn, as well as their two top receivers, Dawid Tarczyński and Grzegorz Mazur. That trio had combined to score nearly half of the points that Wrocław scored in the regular season. The scene in fact recalled last year’s semifinal between the two teams, in which Wrocław lost Niles Mittasch, considered the best running back in the league, early in the first quarter.
Eagles quarterback Shane Gimzo, criticized at times this season as a weak link in the Warsaw attack, played one of his best games of the season. He lead a methodical attack that kept the Devils defense off the field for long periods of time. Backs Witold Szpotański and Jakub Juszczak wore out the Wrocław defensive front, rotating in and picking up chunks of yardage to help run down the clock in the second half.
Gimzo gave the Eagles a 14-0 halftime lead with two touchdown passes in the second quarter. Krzysztof Stojak scored the first, ending a long drive with a leaping 17-yard reception in the back of the end zone. Warsaw then quickly got the ball back and Clarence Anderson was left wide open after a defensive mistake, leaving him in the clear for a 70-yard touchdown reception.
Warsaw continued pounding the ball in the second half, finally extending the lead with another long drive in the fourth quarter. This time Gimzo called his own number on the option play and scored from 6 yards out to give the Eagles a 21-0 advantage. The Devils gained some measure of consolation with a short Sedrick Harris touchdown run later in the quarter, but it was much too little, too late.
With the victory, the Eagles, who won the first and third Polish national championships (in 2006 and 2008, respectively), earned the right to face the Wrocław Giants in Trawnik Producent PLFA SuperFinal VIII. The Giants defeated the defending champion Gdynia Seahawks in the second semifinal, played on Sunday. The Eagles and the Giants will fight for the crown on July 14, at the National Stadium in Warsaw.
Devils: Season complete
Eagles: Sunday, July 14, 5:00 PM: vs. Wrocław Giants (SuperFinal VIII)