It was the best season in Krakow Tigers history. For a team that started off the season as a winless team the future didn’t look very bright. When this past March rolled around and Clark, Michael and I hopped a plane to Poland from Arkansas we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. We had heard about the winless Tigers and how the guys were struggling to pick up the game of American style football but we never expected to be as surprised as we were with their hard work and dedication to this game.
I also didn’t know that only 5 months later I would be moving to play and help coach these Tigers. On top of that they not only had won their first game as a franchise they were undefeated!! I was apart of what was now one of the best teams in Poland!!
We ended the regular season undefeated and won our first playoff game decisively and it seemed like this fairy-tale season would end with us beating the Steelers in the PLFA II final. We had beaten the Steelers by over 20 in my first game as a Polish Professional Football player. After the first half everything was going according to plan. We were beating the Steelers 20-6. What happened over the the next 20 minutes would go down as probably one of the biggest upsets in PLFA history. The Steelers scored 21 unanswered points to take the lead from us in the final seconds of the game. Filip and I hooked up on a trick play that came up just short of pulling off the “Miracle at Juvenia”.
The guys were devastated. I was devastated. Everyone felt as though they had let the whole team down. The next two weeks would be hard as the temperature continued to drop below freezing during practice and the aches and pains seemed to intensify. Watching the game film was the hardest part. We still had one more chance to make it to the first league with a win over last years division II champs the Lowlanders. It was going to be a much tougher game than the one we just played.
The guys showed up to every practice with a great attitude and were ready to do what they needed to do to win and finish the season out strong. The only problem is we only had about 20 guys that were healthy enough to play!! Injuries and broken hearts probably served as a major reason why we were without some major players on offense and defense.
As we warmed up for the game this past Saturday we were on the field to see the Lowlanders get off the bus. They were huge!! They looked like the Boll Weevils getting off that bus!! The only problem for them was that there were only 21 of them. I don’t know about you but 20 Tigers up against anyone else 21 are not good odds for the other guys!! You could see the expression change on the other other guys’ faces. They knew that we had a great chance to win.
Not only did we win….we dominated!! 30-14 was the final score as we hit harder and ran harder than these much bigger and faster guys all day long!! We went out as winners!! As champions!! Just with a smaller trophy than the other guys!! It was the greatest day of my life as a sportsman. Better than my Ironman, better than Ranger School, better than Conference Championships. It was so pure and so perfect. It was great to see the faces of the players and coaches and even Missionaries that have worked so hard to accomplish what seemed like an impossible task when the season started.
Sorry for the length but I left so much out that I would love to share with you one day!! Just ask!!