Junior football players took the field on 8-man teams to open the new PLFA J-8 season in Bydgoszcz, Olsztyn, Główczyce, Bielawa and Mielec during the first of two sets of weekend tournaments leading up to the PLFA J-8 championship tournament June 20-21 in Poznań. Each of the five groups saw one team emerge as the favorite to reach that final tournament with a pair of victories over the weekend. Here are brief recaps of the 18 games played in this weekend's quintet of tournaments.
Central Group (in Bydgoszcz): Patrioci offense potent as Poznań wins a pair
Results from the 1st Central Group Tournament, played on Friday, May 1 in Bydgoszcz:
Game 1: Poznań Patrioci 36, Toruń Angels 24
Game 2: Bydgoszcz Archers 24, Kozły Poznań 14
Game 3: Toruń Angels 44, Kozły Poznań 0
Game 4: Poznań Patrioci 38, Bydgoszcz Archers 6
Tournament MVP: Witold Gajewski, Quarterback, Poznań Patrioci
Game 1: The Patrioci broke open a game that was tied at halftime with third-quarter touchdowns by running back Antoni Idziak and Witold Gajewski, the latter of whom was eventually named the tournament MVP. Jakub Kubacki, who formerly played for the tournament hosts, split signal-calling duties with Michał Podobieński for the Angels. Toruń got a pair of touchdowns late in the game but it too little in what turned out to be a 36-24 victory for Poznań.
Game 2: The host Archers took the field for the second game, against the other Poznań representatives, Kozły. A strong rushing attack helped the Archers to a pair of second-quarter scores and an 18-6 halftime lead. Bydgoszcz held onto to that lead throughout an even second half, setting up a matchup for the group lead with the Patrioci in the day's final game after a 24-14 triumph.
Game 3: Playing back-to-back games, the shorthanded Kozły squad ran out of gas against the Angels, who ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown and never looked back in a 44-0 rout. Toruń was able to take advantage of the fatigue on the Poznań side, which consisted of several players who played on both sides of the ball.
Game 4: The day's final game, which would dictate who would go into the second weekend's tournament with the lead in the standings, was a 38-6 blowout victory for the Patrioci. Bydgoszcz turned to the passing game in response to Poznań's strong defense against the run, but it was to no avail as the Patrioci continued to easily roll up the points.
Northeast Group (in Olsztyn): Invaders from the capital spoil party in Olsztyn
Results from the 1st Northeast Group Tournament, played on Friday, May 1 in Olsztyn:
Game 1: Warsaw Sharks 12, Płock Mustangs 6
Game 2: Warsaw Eagles 30, AZS Olsztyn Lakers 12
Game 3: Płock Mustangs 13, Warsaw Eagles 12
Game 4: Warsaw Sharks 20, AZS Olsztyn Lakers 6
Tournament MVP: Rafał Michaluk, Quarterback, Warsaw Sharks
Game 1: The Sharks set the tone for a tournament that was characterized by defense with a 12-6 win over the Mustangs in the opener in Olsztyn. Stanisław Wojtiuk scored both Warsaw touchdowns, and the Sharks held Płock off of the scoreboard until the game's dying moments. Warsaw then got to rest for Games 2 and 3 before finishing up against the hosts in Game 4.
Game 2: The Eagles made teams from the capital 2-for-2 in the second game of the tournament, getting 18 unanswered points in the middle parts of the contest on their way to a 30-12 win over the Lakers. The game was pretty well decided before it was interrupted for 40 minutes by a second-half thunderstorm, and the Eagles coasted to the victory after the resumption of play.
Game 3: The Mustangs then beat the Eagles by the narrowest of margins in the third game of the day, surviving a late two-point conversion attempt by Warsaw to come away with a hard-fought 13-12 victory. Płock led 13-6 at the half, but the Eagles rallied behind running back Józef Witkowski, only to come up just short on their final conversion try.
Game 4: The Lakers came up short in their bid to give every team in the tournament a win when they fell to the Sharks 20-6 to complete the day's action. Olsztyn took an early lead after Warsaw mishandled the opening kickoff deep in their own end, but the Sharks controlled play the rest of the way to win in relatively easy fashion. Sharks quarterback Rafał Michaluk scored twice to wrest the tournament MVP award away from his teammate, Wojtiuk.
Northwest Group (in Główczyce): Gryfici defense dominates Stal and Griffons
Results from the 1st Northwest Group Tournament, played on Saturday, May 2 in Główczyce:
Game 1: Szczecin Gryfici 14, Gorzów Wielkopolski Stal 6
Game 2: Gorzów Wielkopolski Stal 20, Słupsk Griffons 0
Game 3: Szczecin Gryfici 30, Słupsk Griffons 0
Tournament MVP: Oskar Hynek, Running Back, Szczecin Gryfici
Game 1: The day's lowest scoring tournament began with a 14-6 win for the Szczecin Gryfici. Most of the scoring came early, as the Stal answered an early touchdown with a long touchdown run late in the first quarter, but Kacper Ujazdowski scored on an end around for Szczecin in the third quarter to give the Szczecin defense the cushion they needed to preserve the victory.
Game 2: The Stal came back to beat a very inexperienced Griffons team 20-0 in the tournament's middle game. Gorzów Wielkopolski seemed to catch the Griffons defense off guard in the first half, scoring all of their points before the break. Słupsk held the Stal off the board in the second half, but they were never able to get the wheels turning on offense in an easy win for Gorzów Wielkopolski.
Game 3: The Griffons were shut out again in the final game of the tournament, relenting to a strong Gryfici attack in a 30-0 defeat. Third-year running back Oskar Hynek ran wild on the Słupsk defense to earn the MVP trophy, and the Szczecin substitutes were able to maintain the shutout on what turned out to be an impressive showing on the day for the Gryfici.
Southwest Group (in Bielawa): Defending champs sweep Steelers and Owls
Results from the 1st Southwest Group Tournament, played on Sunday, May 3 in Bielawa:
Game 1: Wrocław Panthers 30, Zagłębie Steelers Interpromex 0
Game 2: Bielawa Owls 42, Zagłębie Steelers Interpromex 0
Game 3: Wrocław Panthers 28, Bielawa Owls 6
Tournament MVP: Kacper Ołdak, Offensive and Defensive Line, Wrocław Panthers
Game 1: The undermanned Steelers couldn't keep up with the defending champion Panthers in the first Southwest Group game, which the favorites won by a score of 30-0. The story of the game was the Wrocław defense, which held Zagłębie to a total of just two first downs as the Panthers served notice of their intention to repeat as titleholders.
Game 2: The second game went even worse for Zagłębie, as a fresh Bielawa Owls team manhandled them 42-0. In contrast to the Wrocław running game that stymied the Steelers in the first game, Bielawa got solid passing from quarterback Adrian Górny. The Owls defense recorded three safeties in the contest.
Game 3: That victory for the Owls set up a battle for Southwest Group supremacy with the Panthers. After a scoreless first quarter, Wrocław returned a punt for a touchdown, but Bielawa answered by taking the ensuing kickoff all the way back for a score. The Panthers converted their two-point try to give them an 8-6 lead at the break, which they eventually extended to 28-6 in a dominant second half.
Southeast Group (in Mielec): Kings roll up the points in convincing pair of wins
Results from the 1st Southeast Group Tournament, played on Sunday, May 3 in Mielec:
Game 1: Krakow Kings 43, AZS Silesia Rebels 0
Game 2: Tychy Falcons 32, Aviators & Bears 14
Game 3: Krakow Kings 36, Tychy Falcons 14
Game 4: Aviators & Bears 40, AZS Silesia Rebels 14
Tournament MVP: Mateusz Wiecheć, Quarterback, Krakow Kings
Game 1: A balanced Krakow attack put up more points than any other PLFA J-8 team over the weekend, starting the Southeast Group tournament in Mielec with a 43-0 destruction of the Rebels. Mateusz Wiecheć and his receivers carved up the Silesia defense on their way to a 34-0 halftime lead that allowed the Kings to put it on autopilot in the second half.
Game 2: The PLFA J veterans, the Tychy Falcons, were too much for the newcomers, the Aviators & Bears, in a 32-14 win in the day's second game. The Aviators & Bears, hailing from Mielec and Przemyśl, kept it close in a first half that ended 12-6, but they were eventually undone by their own offense, which turned the ball over a total of 5 times in the game.
Game 3: The two victors squared off in the third game, which went decisively to the Kings. Krakow bolted out to a 22-0 first-half advantage, and an even second half left them with a 36-14 triumph and 79 points scored in two games. Krakow will be the favorite to win the Group but the Falcons will have the home-field edge heading into the second tournament in Tychy at the end of May.
Game 4: The Rebels led 14-6 early in the final game of the tournament, partly thanks to a recovered onside kick. That, however, preceded a stunning 34-point onslaught that saw the Aviators & Bears go on to their first victory. The game's turning point was the final drive of the first half, during which the Aviators & Bears scored after taking over at their own 5-yard line with just 50 seconds remaining.
PLFA J-8 WEEKEND 2 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE:
Central Group: Date and location yet to be announced
Northeast Group: Sunday, May 31, in Warsaw
Northwest Group: Sunday, May 31, in Gorzów Wielkopolski
Southwest Group: Saturday, May 30, in Wojkowice
Southeast Group: Sunday, May 31, in Tychy