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Ansbach's Xavier Sheppard tries to excape an AFNORTH defender in last year's Division III final. This year, Sheppard and his Ansbach teammates, the only undefeated team in DODDS-Europe, will face defending Division II champ Bitburg in this year's Division II title game at Baumholder.
Ansbach's Xavier Sheppard tries to excape an AFNORTH defender in last year's Division III final. This year, Sheppard and his Ansbach teammates, the only undefeated team in DODDS-Europe, will face defending Division II champ Bitburg in this year's Division II title game at Baumholder. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

Scratch one uncertainty off the list for the coaches of DODDS-Europe’s Super Eight football teams when they convene Saturday at Baumholder’s Minnick Field to determine champions in four divisions.

The weather won’t be a surprise.

Forecasts from USAFE’s 21st Operational Weather Squadron in Sembach, Germany, call for the late afternoon and evening showers that have drenched every previous title-day schedule in Baumholder. The coaches had already taken the Baumholder-in-November conditions into their thinking for this year’s championship quadrupleheader.

“It is what it is, and we just have to deal with it,” Hanau’s Sam Cassou said.

Another uncertainty — the opponents — was settled on Oct. 20 when Ansbach and Bitburg met. The nonconference game between teams that already had qualified for the D-II playoffs was little more than a schedule-filler when the slate was drawn up in August.

As it turned out, it completed an unusual season for DODDS-Europe’s far-flung schools, in which each finalist played a regular-season game against the team it will meet in Saturday’s championship game.

The title-game quadrupleheader begins and ends with the Rubber Match bowls, the third clashes of the season for teams that split their previous encounters — Hanau vs. Menwith Hill at 11 a.m. in the first nine-man Division IV title game, and Ramstein against Heidelberg at 5:45 p.m. for the D-I crown.

In between are the Rematch Bowls. Rota and Baumholder, which beat the Admirals 28-6 Sept. 15 in Spain, clash at 1:15 p.m. for the D-III title won last year by Ansbach, and Bitburg puts its D-II title on the line at 3:30 p.m. against Ansbach, which beat Bitburg 38-8 in their earlier meeting.

“It’s always tough to play a team back-to-back,” Ansbach coach Marcus George said. “It’s hard to hide stuff. There’s no more subterfuge and no more coaching.”

Baumholder’s Carter Hollenbeck said it is difficult to go 2-0 against a good team.

“It’s always a challenge to beat someone twice,” he said. “We found that out last week against Vicenza (a 28-19 semifinal victory Oct. 27 that was 20-19 in the late going). We beat them pretty handily (34-18 on Oct. 13) two weeks before.”

Heidelberg’s Sal Katz, whose team lost the conference championship game to Ramstein on the final play of the game last Saturday, would like less familiarity if given the choice.

“It’s less desirable to have played a team so many times,” he said. “Everybody knows everybody’s tendencies.”

In Heidelberg’s case, familiarity has bred intensity.

“It’ll be a grudge match,” Ramstein’s Glenn Porter predicted about a Heidelberg team aroused by its stunning loss last Saturday. “That’s the way it should be.”

But the picture’s not one-sided.

“It’s nice to know how (the other team) plays,” Bitburg’s Mike Laue said, echoing Baumholder’s Hollenbeck.

“I’d much rather know what the other team’s going to do,” Hollenbeck said. “If (Rota coach) Robert (Stovall) wants to share his playcard with me, I’ll be glad to have it.”

With all the parameters of the other team in view, the game comes down to execution, said Katz.

“The team that makes the fewest mistakes wins the game,” he said.

Rota’s Stovall had another handicapping tip.

“The team which lost the first game generally has more incentive,” he said.

Incentive shouldn’t be a problem this time. Although the teams are the same, there’s lots more on the line.

“It still feels like a championship game,” Pete Resnick of Menwith Hill said. “We’ve never played a game in November before.”

Super EightSaturday at Minnick Field Baumholder, Germany

Division IV, 11 a.m.

Hanau Panthers (5-1) vs. Menwith Hill Mustangs (5-1)Previous outcomes—Hanau 32, Menwith Hill 12, Sept. 22 at Hanau; Menwith Hill 53, Hanau 36, Oct. 20 at Menwith Hill.Players to watch—RBs Gabe Williams of Hanau and Le’Shawn Adams of Menwith Hill.What’s new this time—Hanau, the D-II champion two years ago, is down to 13 players.Capsule assessment—Hanau’s Sam Cassou: “It’ll be our speed against their power.”

Division III, 1:15 p.m.

Baumholder Bucs (6-1) vs. Rota Admirals (6-1)Previous outcome—Baumholder 28, Rota 6, Sept. 15 at Rota.Players to watch—QB Lacross Gray, RB Artrell Davis of Baumholder; QB Jimmy Montfleury, WR Jeff Shelton of Rota.What's new this time—Rota’s Shelton missed first game.Capsule assessment—Rota’s Robert Stovall: “We don’t have preseason jamborees. This team has improved greatly since opening day.”

Division II, 3:30 p.m.

Ansbach Cougars (7-0) vs. Bitburg Barons (6-1)Previous outcome—Ansbach 38, Bitburg 8, Oct. 20 at Bitburg.Players to watch—QB John Willis, RB Xavier Sheppard of Ansbach; RBs Anton Harris and Mitchell Christensen of BitburgWhat's new this time—Harris (35 carries, 177 yards last week) back in lineup after missing Ansbach game.Capsule assessment—Bitburg’s Mike Laue: “We’ve got to play mistake-free.”

Division I, 5:45 p.m.

Ramstein Royals (6-1) vs. Heidelberg Lions (5-2)Previous outcomes—Heidelberg 19, Ramstein 6, Oct. 6 at Ramstein; Ramstein 26, Heidelberg 20, Oct. 27 at HeidelbergPlayers to watch—QB Chris Frazier, RB Thonda Thomas of Heidelberg; WR Scott Sublousky, QB Jackson Knox of Ramstein.What’s new this time—Lions seeking revenge.Capsule assessment—Ramstein’s Glenn Porter: “We’re pretty evenly matched. The team which makes fewest mistakes will win.”

2006 champions

Division IV—NoneDivision III—AnsbachDivision II—BitburgDivision I—Ramstein

Admission

$5 for adults; $3 for students. Ticket valid for all four games.

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