Wiesbaden downs Kaiserslautern for spot in finals
Wiesbaden's CJ Pridgen jumps higher than Kaiserslautern's Antwan Haynes and teammate Jason Closs to make an interception in the Warriors' 38-8 win over the visiting Raiders in a Division I semifinal Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. With the win the Warriors move on to next weekend's championships in Kaiserslautern where they will meet Ramstein or Patch.
Stars and Stripes
WIESBADEN, Germany -- The Wiesbaden Warriors had one win in 2012. Now they're one win away from a championship.
The homestanding Warriors blasted Kaiserslautern 38-8 on Friday night in a DODDS-Europe Division I football semifinal. The team will play either Ramstein or Patch for the European championship Nov. 2.
"We're going to the 'ship," the Warriors chanted in unison after shaking hands with their defeated opponents.
Though the Warriors waited to proclaim it, that fact was apparent soon after kickoff.
Wiesbaden controlled the game's opening quarter, building a healthy early lead that it supplemented for the balance of the game.
The Warriors scored first on a short-yardage Daivon Poole rush set up by a long sideline dash by Anthony Little. That score came just over four minutes into the game.
Wiesbaden shoved the Raiders backward on their ensuing possession, and took advantage of the favorable field position with a second quick score. Quarterback Reymoi Lewis found CJ Pridgen slicing through the end zone to double the Warrior lead to 14-0 with two and a half minutes to play in the first quarter.
Kaiserslautern threatened to respond as the first quarter gave way to the second. But the rolling Warriors turned even this precarious position into points. Tim Cuthbert scooped up a fumble in the Raider backfield and ushered it 80 yards downfield for a touchdown and a 21-0 edge less than a minute into the quarter.
Lewis found Pridgen again in the final minute of the first half to complete the 28-point barrage.
Pridgen added another six - this time a defensive touchdown via interception return - and kicker John Arnold nailed a 32-yard field goal when the rout resumed after halftime.
Tristan Dailey ran in a fourth-quarter touchdown and did the same on the two-point conversion for the Raiders' only points.
Wiesbaden won the regular-season meeting between the two teams, giving the Warriors home-field advantage on Friday after the teams finished with matching 3-2 records. But mere participation in a European semifinal marked a major turnaround for both programs.
Used to annual contention, Wiesbaden slumped to a miserable one-win campaign in 2012. Though he was in Texas last year, Pridgen quickly took up the effort of rejuvenating Warrior football. His various trips to the end zone certainly helped that cause.
"Coach told us to go out there and have a good time," Pridgen said. "That's what I did. That's what a lot of us did."
Kaiserslautern had it even worse, suffering through two straight winless seasons entering 2013.
Raider linebacker Tysean Hendrix was around for the duration. While he was disappointed in Friday's loss, he was proud to play a part in the Raiders' renaissance.
"It feels good," a smiling Hendrix said. "I'm glad we could set it up for future generations."