Favorites could emerge after weekend's game
Stars and Stripes
The DODDS-Europe football season is still young. But it is quickly reaching maturity.
With two games Friday night and eight more Saturday, this season’s third weekend is the busiest to date. And with around a month to go before the playoffs, teams with plans to play on the other side of Halloween should already be approaching postseason form.
Division I: The parity among DODDS-Europe’s six largest schools figured to make for a hard-fought five-week season. The teams didn’t disappoint in week one.
Ramstein’s 45-7 rout of Lakenheath was the lopsided outlier in a three-game slate. The other four teams involved – winners Wiesbaden and Kaiserslautern and losers Patch and Vilseck – emerged neither too confident nor too discouraged after playing close games that might have turned on one or two defining plays.
Expect more of the same this weekend as the six schools clash with fresh opponents.
Vilseck can shake off its stunning loss to Kaiserslautern by laying a hit on defending champ Ramstein. Kaiserslautern, having already avoided a third straight winless season, can build on its momentum against 2012 runner-up Patch. And Wiesbaden, with its 2012 win total already matched, can double it against Lakenheath.
Division II: Bitburg is the universally-recognized class of DODDS-Europe Division II football. But the remaining members of the deep and dangerous 13-team league are far more than a mere afterthought.
The four-time European champion Barons loom large in the north half of Division II, and they’ll have occasion to prove it again Saturday with a win over a perennially strong International School of Brussels team that, along with SHAPE, appears to be one of two teams with a puncher’s chance of knocking down Bitburg.
The six-team south is less clear, but the picture should begin to come into focus this weekend thanks to games between Hohenfels and Ansbach and Vicenza and Aviano.
The two German schools are undefeated entering their showdown. Vicenza beat 2012 runner-up Naples 34-6 on Sept. 7, presumably supplanting the Wildcats as Italy’s top team unless Aviano can mount an objection.