AFC Griffins Celebrate Silver Medals
It’s a sunny Sunday morning, the AUBG campus is still asleep, but not so for the spirit of American football. Three teams came on Sunday, Oct. 2, to test their strength, will and tenacity on the field for the “Cup of Blagoevgrad,” the third round of the National Championship for American Flag-Football. The tournament was the first to be hosted by the AUBG Griffins this fall. The team prevailed in their two consecutive games against the Sofia Bulldozers and the Sofia Bears, at the qualification stage of the championship, with the scores 20-12 and 20-16, respectively. Reaching the final, the Griffins had to settle for the silver medals after losing their second match with the Sofia Bears.
Griffins’ spirits were high during the first game with the Bears, when the Griffins gained a momentum after scoring three touchdowns with coordinated play from both offence and defense. After their loss from the Sofia-based team in Plovdiv two weeks ago, the Griffins showed how they have reflected on their previous mistakes, and finished off with a rebound.
The Griffins were quite thrilled after the final. One of the players who scored multiple touchdowns in different games, Philip Mishev, a second-year student, expressed his appreciation for his teammates, and the great persistence and teamwork they showed on the field.
“I am extremely proud of all of the guys. We are really happy because most of the new recruits are playing for the first or second time in a tournament, and for the second time they are playing against the Bears, who are strong opponents who train professionally,” Mishev commented. “I am really proud that we showed good sportsmanship and an improved game-play today.”
Krum Zahariev, a co-captain and second year-student in AUBG also evaluated on the team’s performance. “Griffins succeeded to get the upper hand. They were playing on their own field where they have the support of the AUBG community and feel most comfortable”, said Zahariev.
“It is awesome to play at home because we train here and we are used to the field. Moreover, a lot of people who are not from Bulgaria were not able to attend the other games, so we had many people from the AUBG community supporting us today,” Zahariev noted.
The captain of the Sofia Bears Alexander Starionov saluted the Griffins for their first win in such a long time, hoping that they will become an even more prominent opponent in the future.
“Since the Griffins are playing on their own field, their spirits are high and they were able to gain a momentum,” noted Starionov. “We played well, but apparently the Griffins boys played better. This is a first win for the Griffins in the last couple of years, and we want to congratulate them because they deserved this win. We wish them luck.”
One of the Sofia Bears senior players explained that they were using their second team consisting of mostly new recruits, aged 14-16. Atanas Tasev, a player of the Sofia Bears, explained that their tactic for the first game was to let the new recruits get a feeling of “the real game.”
“We do not regret that we let the new recruits play in the first game. This is a field experience of a real tournament game, where they can see their mistakes and learn from them for future games,” Tasev shared. “We congratulate the Griffins on their training – they definitely showed how much they have developed in the last couple of years.”
Apart from the noteworthy win against the Bears, the Griffins were also congratulated on the excellent conditions of the field. Nikolay Georgiev, the quarterback for the Sofia Bears, said that compared to the field in Plovdiv, the AUBG facilities are exemplary. The cornerback Radoslav Tashev, also shared that there was a special feeling while playing on the AUBG range.
“Here I think we had some of the greatest feelings while playing. We would be really happy to come back and play here again,” explained Tashev.
One of the highlights of the day was the award ceremony. A surprise prize went to the most dedicated part of the American Football fans. Fahed El Zaher, who was part of the football team’s devotees, shared his excitement after winning the award.
“I feel amazing. I have worked so hard. I have put blood, sweat and tears for this award. I was crying because of how hard the Griffins were playing – my eyes turned red. And I have been sweating the whole day because of the hot weather. Just kidding. We are really happy for the Griffins. We would be always here to support them,” El Zaher explained.