The International School of Brussels Raiders line up during a preseason scrimmage.

The International School of Brussels Raiders line up during a preseason scrimmage. (Courtesy of ISB)

Thirteenth in a series of DODEA-Europe high school football previews.

International School of Brussels has withdrawn all but one of its sports teams from DODEA-Europe competition for the foreseeable future. That list includes its dominant tennis program and its annually contending Division I boys soccer team. The only exception, according to ISB athletic director Lee Rosky, is football.

And DODEA-Europe needs the Raiders on the gridiron. The losses of Alconbury and Ansbach over the last two years has whittled the organization’s Division II ranks down to an even 10 teams, including ISB.

But the Raiders bring more to DODEA-Europe than just a filled spot on the schedule. ISB has been among Division II’s most consistent programs in recent years. The Raiders have cracked the postseason in each of the past two seasons, and last year posted a winning 3-2 campaign headlined by a rugged 25-22 defeat of intracountry rival SHAPE.

That success has been built on a few key tenets of ISB football, which head coach Wil Vreugdenhil hopes to continue this fall.

Facing a frequent size disadvantage, both in terms of its short depth chart and the build of its individual players, ISB resorts to what Vreugdenhil terms a “misdirection” offense designed to give the slight but speedy Raiders the space to maneuver.

“Outsmarting opponents,” Vreugdenhil said to explain the system’s rationale. “Using our small size to our advantage.”

And the Raiders will need to find advantages wherever possible. The new 10-team alignment will reduce the Division II playoffs from eight teams to four, leaving less invitations to the postseason party for middle-class squads such as ISB. Furthermore, the Raiders share a region with perhaps the division’s two toughest heavyweights in defending champion Rota and stalwart contender Spangdahlem, formerly known as Bitburg.

But ISB can only control its own fate.

“Get better every day, every week, every game,” Vreugdenhil said.

Twitter: @broomestripes

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