The DODDS-Europe Division II football season is only two weeks old, but it is already dividing itself into two distinct tiers.

The division’s presumed elite – Ansbach, Bitburg and reigning champion Hohenfels – have so far done nothing to jeopardize that status.

Ansbach outscored AFNORTH and Naples by a combined 88-14 in its first two wins. Bitburg, while taking its time in putting away Baumholder and AFNORTH, has nonetheless won both of its games by a combined 61. The reigning Tigers have taken the field just once, but used the opportunity to thrash Alconbury 52-8.

All three teams are in action this weekend hoping to further reinforce their dominance. The Tigers host 1-1 Aviano, while regional rivals Bitburg and Ansbach collide in one of the most compelling games of the regular season. However the Bitburg-Ansbach game turns out, however, it’s likely both will cruise to the postseason and retain their status as championship threats.

All of which poses the question: aside from each other, is anyone capable of hanging with Division II’s big three?

Vicenza would seem to be the field’s strongest candidate. The Cougars entered the season with a high profile after a postseason berth in 2013 and a strong showing at the annual August football camp in Ansbach, and their regular season started in promising fashion on Saturday with a 35-0 shutout of rival Aviano.

Meanwhile, dark horse hopefuls SHAPE and Rota are lurking on the fringe of contention.

The Spartans are coming off a season in which they came within a few crucial defensive stops of beating Hohenfels for the European championship. But the offseason decimated their talent base, and a 49-0 drubbing of overmatched Menwith Hill/Woodham isn’t enough evidence to counterbalance that fact. Their performance this weekend against Naples, another 2013 playoff qualifier, should be instructive.

The Admirals, meanwhile, are a former Division III power on the verge of finding its way into the Division II mix. They upgraded on last year’s winless campaign with a 27-0 win at Baumholder on Saturday, and can move to 2-0 with a home-field win over Alconbury. Road games at Bitburg and Ansbach over their last three games will test any momentum the Admirals are able to build, however.

With the structure of the DODDS-Europe postseason still unclear, the mandate is clear for any team hoping to be a part of it: keep winning.

Twitter: @broomestripes

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