Nine different players scored 10 touchdowns as the EAFL Falcons flashed their star power in a blowout victory over the Colombo Lions in Sri Lanka.
The UAE’s All-Star team, comprised of the top echelon players in the Emirates American Football League, took on some of the best the Southeast Asian nation had to offer in an exhibition at the Racecourse Grounds on Saturday.
In their first chance to play together since Barcelona in 2014, the Falcons looked cohesive on both sides of the ball.
The elusive backfield tandem of Vivaldi Tulysse and Luke Norrey combined for 136 yards on the ground, with the former taking in a 44 and 10-yard touchdown, while the latter added a 24-yard score. Quarterback Zavier Cobb found receivers Michael Andersen on an 18-yard touchdown,
Gary Stillman for a 14-yard score and Daniel Viranyi on a 17-yard connection. The Falcons’ defence also had two interceptions returned for touchdowns from Alex Rodriguez and Viranyi, while their other points came from rushes by Mohamed Fouda and Ziad Choueiri, as well as two safeties.
“It was fun having all the guys together,” said coach Kyle Jordan. “It was hard deciding who to give the ball to, there were too many choices.”
EAFL general manager Dustin Cherniawski even strapped on the pads and gave the hosts plenty of credit for what they’re building.
“We are thankful to the Colombo Lions for hosting this game. Although the result was not in their favour today, the positive takeaway is that they have a solid foundation upon which to build their programme,” said Cherniawski.
“Nearly all of the players have a rugby background which helped with the basic skills. They are tenacious, fast, and very well conditioned. They show a real passion for developing their skills and we hope to help them in that area through a coach and player exchange programme.”
With the way the Falcons played, Cherniawski believes they’re capable of having success against better, more experienced teams.
“From what I saw out there, we have a very solid team and that will open up a few doors when it comes to selecting our next games,” he said. “We can definitely compete with teams in the European leagues and we’ll work towards that.”
The best of the Emirates American Football League will take to the field together on Saturday when the UAE Falcons meet the Colombo Lions in Sri Lanka.
The UAE’s collection of top American football talent has formed an All-Star team which will feature EAFL stalwarts such as Dubai Barracudas quarterback Zavier Cobb and Abu Dhabi Wildcats running back Vivaldi Tulysse as they face Sri Lanka’s finest at Racecourse Stadium (18:00 UAE).
For a change, Barracudas and Falcons coach Kyle Jordan will have the chance to see what Tulysse can do in his offence with a playmaker like Cobb under centre, rather than go up against him.
It’ll be an embarrassment of riches for the Falcons in the backfield, with both Tulysse and Desert Bowl MVP Luke Norrey capable of finding the end zone on any play.
“We have the most dynamic running backs in the league – Vivaldi and Luke Norrey,” said Cobb. “I’m pretty sure you’ll see a lot of those guys doing what they do and hopefully I can get some passes off, but the line will dictate all of that.”
As is the case with playing an international side, Jordan’s squad won’t know what specifics to prepare for.
That will likely lead to a feeling-out period early in the contest as both teams get accustomed to one another, but Jordan has faith the quality of his roster can make up for the lack of familiarity with both the Lions and themselves as a unit.
“We don’t really know what to expect,” said the head coach. “We haven’t seen a lot of footage on the Colombo Lions. We’ve got a lot of quality athletes that have a lot of football experience, so hopefully that will make up for our inexperience of playing together.”
The best quarterback the EAFL has ever seen was helped over the hump as the Dubai Barracudas defeated the Abu Dhabi Wildcats 21-18 in Desert Bowl IV at Dubai Sports City on Friday night.
Cobb struggled in the contest with two interceptions, but was a major reason why the Barracudas were in position to claim their first ring.
“It feels awesome, man,” Cobb said. “It was definitely a team eff-ort. I didn’t have the best game, but that’s why it’s called team-work.”
Cobb had said he was going to hang up his jersey when the Barracudas won and reiterated that stance after the celebration, pegging his retirement odds at “80 per cent”.
If we’ve seen the last of Cobb, he walks away with individual honours of being named EAFL MVP in 2014 and Offensive Player of the Year last season, with potentially more trophies in store in the fourth annual player awards on May 6.
Looking back on his three seasons, Cobb said: “I take it as we were able to excel every year, get better every year and hopefully I was part of that. Hopefully, I helped those guys achieve this tremendous victory.
“In the three years, I got a family and we were able to build every year to become the team we are today.”
Although Cobb is fairly certain he’s taken his last snap, Barracudas coach Kyle Jordan isn’t so sure his leader on the field won’t be back.
Regardless of whether Cobb is under centre or a coach on the sidelines, Jordan knows his connection with the team will never fade.
“I don’t know,” Jordan answered when asked if Cobb could return. “I told him to think about it and said don’t be so committed to retirement.
“Whatever he decides to do, I told him he has a place with us wherever he wants, whether it’s wearing a whistle or wearing a helmet.
“Whatever he wants to do, he’s a ‘Cuda. He’ll be with us one way or the other.”