After two years of coming up just one win short, the Wrocław Panthers finally reached the Topliga's summit, defeating the Gdynia Seahawks 56-13 in SuperFinal XI on Saturday at the Municipal Stadium in Białystok. The top seed in the postseason poured it on the two-time defending champions, running up the first 49 points of the game en route to their coronation. Wrocław quarterback Steven White was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
White had competition for the award from running back Rickey Stevens, who ran for four touchdowns in the contest. Most of his damage came in the second half, however, and White had just about sewn up the award before the intermission when he added a weaving 43-yard scoring run on fourth down to his three first-half touchdown passes. The American was responsible for 360 of Wrocław's 518 yards of total offense.
“It was a really fantastic event, and another building block for the development of football,” commented PLFA President Jędrzej Stęszewski. “Although the number of fans could have been higher, the host Lowlanders have a good foundation upon which to build their future. It was the first final in the Podlasie region, and I am confident that future championship games can be held in places the SuperFinal has not yet visited.”
In a scene that was all-too-familiar to Seahawks fans this year, Tomasz Dziedzic broke off a long touchdown reception to open the scoring. Patryk Matkowski followed Dziedzic's 73-yard scoring reception with a 40-yarder to make it 14-0 after a quarter. Birthday boy Wiktor Zięba extended the lead to 21-0 on a 7-yard touchdown catch, and Stevens found the end zone on a short run before White capped the half with his fourth-down scamper.
Things didn't get any better for the Seahawks after the break, as the Panthers pounded the ball and churned down the field for two more scores before Jakub Mazan finally got Gdynia some points. The receiver earned the Mayor of Białystok Tadeusz Truskolaski award for the game's most spectacular play for his 55-yard touchdown reception at the end of the third quarter. The teams then traded touchdowns in a fourth quarter that was largely devoid of drama.
Mazan was the only real light for the Gdynia offense, accounting for 129 of the team's 233 total yards. The Panthers defense held Joshua Quezada in check for the entire game, denying him the end zone and allowing the Topliga's best regular season running back only 60 yards in 19 carries.
Although both teams finished the regular season with identical records, there was no doubt that the Panthers were the more dominant force, and a surprise such as the one the Seahawks sprung in last season's title game was never even a thought in SuperFinal XI. For a team that has excelled in balancing a difficult regular season schedule with IFAF Europe Champions League play against some of the best teams on the continent, it was a fitting end to the 2016 Topliga season.
SuperFinal XI Individual Awards:
Game MVP: Steven White (Quarterback, Wrocław Panthers)
Best Offensive Player: Rickey Stevens (Running Back, Wrocław Panthers)
Best Defensive Player: Adrian Brudny (Defensive Line, Wrocław Panthers)
Mayor of Białystok Tadeusz Truskolaski Award for the Most Spectacular Play of SuperFinal XI: Jakub Mazan (Wide Receiver, Gdynia Seahawks)
Topliga Individual Season Awards:
MVP: Jabari Harris (Primacol Białystok Lowlanders)
Best Quarterback: Terrance Owens (Gdynia Seahawks)
Best Receiver: Ronald Levern Long (Primacol Białystok Lowlanders)
Best Running Back: Joshua Quezada (Gdynia Seahawks)
Best Offensive Lineman: Rafał Rogaczewski (Wrocław Panthers)
Best Defensive Lineman: Szymon Adamczyk (Wrocław Panthers)
Best Linebacker: Szymon Barczak (Kozły Poznań)
Best Defensive Back: Adam Lary (Wrocław Panthers)
Best Kicker: Dawid Pańczyszyn (Wrocław Panthers)
Best Punter: Mateusz Ruta (Wrocław Panthers)
Best Returner: Charles McCrea (Warsaw Eagles)
The Topliga regular season individual awards are determined by a vote of Topliga coaches.