Team Austria blanks Sweden to capture gold at IFAF 2019 U19 European Championships

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Although they started slow, Team Austria  built momentum quickly and finally dominated Swedenin the gold medal final of the IFAF 2019 U19 European Championhips, shutting them out 28-0 Sunday evening in Bologna, Italy.

In front of a loud and boisterous crowd at Arcoveggio Stadium with Austrian and Swedish fans chanting back and forth, Austria simply outran, outmuscled and outhustled a Swedish team that had not faced this kind of speed and execution  before in the tournament.

Austria jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead and then cruised in the second half for the win.

Great atmosphere at Arcoveggio Stadium in Bologna, Italy for gold medal final in IFAF 2019 U19 European Championships

The Swedes actually stuffed Austria on their two first drives but an unusual penalty call, “leaping the shield” against Sweden on Austria’s second possession, was the momentum changer.  Austria had been forced to punt twice in a row to open the game and the second short punt would have given Sweden the ball on Austria’s 40 yard line with the momentum going their way.

One of the Swedish players attempted to leap over the blocking and was flagged for it. That penalty changed everything. Not that it would not have been a matter of time before the Austrians imposed their will on Team Sweden.

Austrian RB Johannes Schutz was named offensive MVP Photo: Andrea Donait, FIDAF

Instead of Sweden getting the ball in great field position in Austrian territory, Team Austria, who had been trapped on their own five yard line after a booming punt from Swedish punter Victor Wikstrom, (he was possibly Sweden’s best weapon on this night) took over at the 22 and the Austrian ground game took charge. Austria scored once in the first quarter and twice in the second while adding an insurance touchdown in the third. Their defense did the rest, giving the Swedes no room.

The speedy running back duo of Johannes Schutz  (60 yds) and Lukas Haslwanter (67 yds) did much of the damage combining for 127 yards between them while quarterback Yannik Gruner(Tournament MVP) threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns on 8 of 13 passing. Wide receiver Marco Schneider caught six passes for 87 yards while Noah Toure pulled in one for 75 yards and a touchdown and Wenzel Rock one for 53 yards and a touchdown.

Swedish quarterback Viktor Ekberg had a night he would like to forget. Before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury he had completed just 3 of 12 passes for 14 yards and rushed for 41 yards. His backup, Ture NIlsson, did not fare much better throwing for 16 yards on 2 of 6 passing. Anton Stensson rushed for 29 yards and Victor Cimrell 24 as the Swedish offense was neutralized most of the night.

Photo: Andrea Donati

Austria opened the scoring following the momentum-changing penalty as Gruner marched his team on a nine play, 99 yard drive with Haslwanter and Schneider doing the most of the running. Schneider finished the drive off with a 12 yard touchdown run and Austria went out in front 7-0 late in the first quarter.

The second touchdown came quickly in the second quarter as Gruner, from his own 25 yard line, hit Toure streaking downfield and Toure out-leaped two defenders to come down with the ball and race to the end zone to increase the lead to 14-0.

With Sweden unable to move the ball, Austria needed just four plays. Gruner connected with Rock for a 53 yard touchdown four minutes into the second period and the Austrians led 21-0.

A fumble on a punt return by Austria (a rare mistake by the Austrians) gave Sweden the ball in excellent field position, on the Austrian 33 yard line. Nilsson, already in for a shaky Ekberg,moved Sweden down to the 10 yard line but a missed field goal left Sweden without any points.

Swedish WR Victor Wikstrom swarmed by Austrian defenders Photo: Andrea Donait, FIDAF

Sweden got another break first forcing Austria to punt late in the first half and then blocking the punt, recovering the ball at the Austrian 37 yard line. Four straight incomplete passes from Ekbergended the drive. The Swedish defense then picked off a Gruner pass again giving the Swedesexcellent field position at Austria’s 32 with 50 seconds left on the clock. Two incompletions ended that drive.

Austria added another textbook touchdown early in the third quarter behind the running of Schutz.He carried the ball seven times on a 10 play drive, accounting for 51 of the 73 yards, finally scoring from seven yards out to boost the Austrian lead to 28-0.

After that, the Austrians seemed content to simply use up as many minutes on the clock as possible. The Swedish defense did not allow them out of their own end the rest of the game, but the offense simply could not take advantage.

The fourth quarter saw the two teams combine for five punts with Sweden stranded on the Austrian 31 yard line as time ran out.

This was Austria’s fourth IFAF U19 European title. The offensive MVP of the game was Johannes Schutz while the defensive MVP honors went to Swedish linebacker Alexander Nordgren.

Yannik Gruner was name MVP of the tournament earning a one week trip to the IMG Academy in Florida.

Austria Regina d’Europa!

Il  Campionato Europeo U19 ha la sua regina! Stiamo parlando dell’Austria, che nella finalissima di questa sera ha battuto la Svezia per 28 a 0. Davanti ad un pubblico numeroso, coloratissimo e meravigliosamente esuberante, l’ultimo atto del torneo continentale ha riservato emozioni, sancendo la supremazia di un team che, sin dalla prima giornata, aveva dimostrato di essere arrivato a Bologna con un solo obiettivo: vincere.
La Svezia ha provato ad opporre resistenza ma la dura prova contro la Francia in semifinale ha evidentemente lasciato strascichi pesanti, perché mai il team scandinavo è riuscito ad impensierire la difesa austriaca. A segno per i Campioni d’Europa Schneider, Touré, Wenzel e Schutz  nei primi tre quarti di gioco, con un’ultima frazione in cui ci si è limitati a controllare il risultato.
 Onore ai campioni, dunque, certamente il team più forte ed organizzato visto qui a Bologna. MVP assoluto del torneo è il QB austriaco Yannik Denis Gruner, che si aggiudica l’ambito premio messo in palio da IMG Academy, ovvero un soggiorno di una settimana in Florida, presso le meravigliose strutture dell’Accademia.
C’era anche un pò di azzurro in campo, in questa finale. Gli arbitri italiani Stefano D’Amatoe Andrea Colombo, infatti, sono risultati tra i migliori nelle rispettive posizioni  ricoperte in campo, guadagnandosi così il diritto a disputare la finalissima.
Si chiude così questo bellissimo Campionato Europeo di categoria, il più partecipato di sempre, il più ricco di soddisfazioni per la Federazione Italiana, che ha ricevuto consensi unanimi da tutte le nazioni partecipanti e dalla IFAF, la Federazione Internazionale che ha onorato l’Italia assegnandole l’organizzazione di questo prestigioso evento. E’ stata una settimana impegnativa, ma piena di sorrisi, allegria e sana competizione, con gli oltre 500 ragazzi impegnati in campo a dare una lezione di educazione, rispetto e fair play da fare invidia agli atleti di qualunque altra disciplina sportiva.
La Fidaf desidera ringraziare le istituzioni, a partire dal Comune di Bologna e da quello della Valsamoggia, al fianco della Federazione sin dall’inizio e senza il cui prezioso aiuto non sarebbe stato possibile organizzare un evento come questo. E poi, naturalmente, in nostri partner, a cominciare da BKT, presenting sponsor del Campionato Europeo, e da Havas, Logistic Partner della Fidaf. E poi, Alce Nero, Official Supplier di Casa Italia, Anas, Antiche Fonti Cottorella, Associazione Bazzanostra, Bayer Team Sports, BeeBad, Birrificio Malteano, C.M.P. Global Medical Division, Dottor Ice, Hotel Alla Rocca, IMG Academy, Italpress, Macron, M&M Audioservice, Radio Dimensione Suono, Secur&Secur, SSML Carlo Bo e Bologna Welcome. Un ringraziamento speciale all’Hotel Living Place di Bologna, quartier generale di questo Campionato, capace di ospitare contemporaneamente ed in modo impeccabile 7 delle 8 squadre partecipanti.
Il football americano europeo ha mostrato il meglio della propria gioventù e la Fidaf è orgogliosa di aver contribuito a offrirgli la giusta vetrina.

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