The Bielawa Owls dominated the second Polish junior football championship, a tournament that they themselves hosted, eventually shutting out the Warsaw Eagles in Sunday's title game to lift the trophy. The Eagles finished the tournament in second place, while the Wrocław Devils youth team rounded out the podium spots.
“It was a great two days for football in Poland,” commented PLFA President Jędrzej Stęszewski. “The establishment of our junior league ranks up there with holding the SuperFinal in the National Stadium and with the debut of the Polish national team. I watched the games with pleasure, and I believe that these youngsters will soon be a force in the senior leagues.”
Each team played three games during the weekend tournament, which brought together the top 8 of the 15 teams that competed in PLFA J this season. Two different fields were utilized to ensure that all 12 games of the tournament could be completed on time. The following is an overview of each of the three rounds of games, and summaries of the games played therein.
Final: Bielawa Owls J - Warsaw Eagles J
Game 1: Wrocław Devils 20, Olsztyn Lakers 6
Game 2: Warsaw Eagles 34, Szczecin Gryfici 0
Game 3: Bielawa Owls 44, Toruń Angels 0
Game 4: Tychy Falcons 28, Poznań Patrioci 6
Overview: The quarterfinals were played in two groups of two games played simultaneously on different fields. On one field, the Devils opened the tournament with an upset, overcoming the second-seeded Olsztyn Lakers to advance to the semifinals. Adam Skakowski hauled in two Arkadiusz Wąsiel touchdown passes in the second quarter to give Wrocław an insurmountable lead. On the other field, the Eagles shut out the Gryfici 34-0, in a game that saw Bartek Zapędowski score twice. In the second round of games, the Owls got a pair of touchdowns each from Michał Adamarek, Michał Stasiak and Dawid Richter to blow out the Toruń Angels 44-0, while the Tychy Falcons got a 28-6 victory over the Poznań Patrioci in a game that featured a kickoff return for a touchdown by Szymon Wróbel following Poznań's only score.
Game 1, winners bracket: Bielawa Owls 22, Wrocław Devils 6
Game 2, winners bracket: Warsaw Eagles 14, Tychy Falcons 8
Overview: Wrocław got a single touchdown to break Bielawa's streak of four straight shutouts dating back to the first tournament of the year, but the Owls were still strong enough to reach the 1st place game with a 22-6 triumph. Adamarek scored twice again for Bielawa in the first half, and Konrad Darmochwała added a touchdown in the third quarter before Skakowski nabbed a 35-yard touchdown pass to break the streak. The Eagles trailed at halftime of their semifinal, but Jan Hernik's 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter put them ahead to stay in a tight 14-8 contest.
Game 1, losers bracket: Olsztyn Lakers 18, Toruń Angels 6
Game 2, losers bracket: Szczecin Gryfici 6, Poznań Patrioci 0
Overview: In the consolation bracket, the Gryfici and Patrioci played what ended up being by far the lowest-scoring game of the tournament, a 6-0 win for Szczecin. The only points of the game came in the final quarter, when Michal Szczurowski scored on a 2-yard run. The other game in the bracket was another defensive struggle, with the Lakers prevailing over the Angels 18-6. Both teams scored before halftime to leave the game tied at 6 going into the locker rooms, but Patryk Piechowski and Jakub Leszczyński each scored in the second half for Olsztyn to give the Lakers the victory.
7th place game: Poznań Patrioci 28, Toruń Angels 6
The action on Sunday began once again on two different fields, with the Patrioci and the Angels meeting on one of them in the 7th-place game. Piotr Kowalczyk scored two touchdowns for Poznań, including one on a 43-yard run in the third quarter, to lead the Patrioci to a 28-6 victory. Mikołaj Jopczyński got Toruń's only points with a 45-yard touchdown run in the final quarter.
5th place game: Szczecin Gryfici 16, Olsztyn Lakers 8
The Gryfici and the Lakers played what might have been the most exciting game of the final day on the other field, entering the fourth quarter tied at 8. Szczurowski put Szczecin ahead first with a 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, but Olsztyn quickly tied the game when Kuba Markowski hit Piotr Fafiński with a 28-yard touchdown pass. Szczurowski went in again in the final frame, this time from 7 yards out, to give the Gryfici the victory.
3rd place game: Wrocław Devils 12, Tychy Falcons 8
The bronze-medal game was a relatively low-scoring affair that saw the Devils take a 6-0 lead into the halftime break after a touchdown run by Michał Górecki in the second quarter. Mariusz Górecki then broke loose for a 43-yard touchdown reception to double the lead in the third quarter, but the Falcons would draw to within 12-8 on a 1-yard plunge by Dawid Ryguła in the fourth. They would get no closer, however, and Wrocław held on for the win.
1st place game: Bielawa Owls 24, Warsaw Eagles 0
The Owls started a new shutout streak in the championship game, overwhelming the Eagles 24-0 to take the title. The result represented a marked departure from last year's final game, won by the Eagles 8-6. Bielawa scored 8 points in each of the last three quarters, going ahead 8-0 at halftime on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Konrad Darmochwała to his brother, Oskar, before Adamarek scored two more touchdowns in the second half to give him an impressive total of six for the weekend.
1. Bielawa Owls
2. Warsaw Eagles
3. Wrocław Devils
4. Tychy Falcons
5. Szczecin Gryfici
6. Olsztyn Lakers
7. Poznań Patrioci
8. Toruń Angels
3rd place game: Tychy Falcons J - Devils Wrocław Junior
Semifinal: Bielawa Owls J - Devils Wrocław Junior
5th place game: Gryfici Szczecin - Olsztyn Lakers J
Quarterfinal: Bielawa Owls J - Angels Toruń J
Quarterfinal: Devils Wrocław Junior - Olsztyn Lakers J