Speedy Wiesbaden too much for defending champs
By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 2, 2013
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – A tumultuous DODDS-Europe football season ended in fitting fashion – with a new team atop Division I.
The Wiesbaden Warriors defeated the Ramstein Royals in a thorough 38-21 title-game victory Saturday night, winning the 2013 DODDS-Europe Division I championship and stunning the usually-dominant defending champions.
“They fought us to the end,” Warriors senior Anthony Little said. “But we got out here and worked hard. I guess we wanted it more.”
Armed with a seemingly endless supply of offensive playmakers, the Warriors piled up points on a Royal defense that had allowed just 17 points on the season prior to Saturday.
“I knew we had a team that could possibly give them trouble because of our speed,” Warriors head coach Steve Jewell said. “Things went our way.”
Among those weapons was 100-meter and 200-meter dash champion Little, the sprinting specialist of the reigning champion Wiesbaden track team. Jewell and quarterback Reymoi Lewis made sure to set DODDS-Europe’s fastest man loose on Saturday.
Little racked up 135 receiving yards and a touchdown, with almost all of that yardage coming on long runs after catching short passes. But Little’s impact on the game was even bigger than that, Jewell said.
“We knew that if Anthony could get the ball in space, that he would force them to spread a little bit,” Jewell said. “We kind of knew that if we wore them down, they would have to man-coverage some of our receivers. And we knew they couldn’t do that.”
Before uncorking their own explosive offense, however, Wiesbaden had to absorb an expected early blow from the Royals. Ramstein’s own speedster, Johnny Pack, took the game’s opening kickoff within 5 yards of a touchdown, corralled only by Wiesbaden kicker John Arnold. The deferred points arrived seconds later when Royal quarterback Lucas Mireles found Robert Navarro for the game’s first score just 55 seconds into the game.
But the Royal rout wasn’t on. Not by a long shot.
“Nothing affects us until it says all zeroes on that clock,” Lewis said.
As Jewell and Lewis had planned, it was Little that broke things open for the Warriors, bolting 86 yards for a tying second-quarter touchdown arranged by a screen pass from Lewis and a helpful block from wideout CJ Pridgen.
“I just tried to hit the outside and turn on my track speed,” Little said.
Arnold knocked in a booming field goal in the seconds before halftime to give the Warriors a 10-7 lead at the break. The three points came after a Ramstein roughing penalty negated Arnold’s first missed attempt and teed up another ball for the placekicker.
The second half held more of the same. Quarterback Lewis carried six times on a seven-play Warrior drive, including the 4-yard run that put Wiesbaden up 17-7.
The Royals finally got going again early in the fourth quarter on a rugged 10-yard run from Tevin Johnson, the first of two fourth-quarter scores for the burly Ramstein back.
But the Warriors immediately restored their damaged lead with a two-play drive. The first, another screen to Little, went 55 yards to the Ramstein 10. Daivon Poole ran the rest of the way on the next snap.
Lewis ran in another score for a prohibitive 31-14 Warrior lead with 6 minutes and 15 seconds to play. The teams traded touchdowns down the stretch.
The title game was a clear matchup of Division I’s two standout teams. The top-seeded Royals beat Patch 34-0 in their semifinal game, while second-seeded Wiesbaden handled Kaiserslautern 38-8 to advance.
Wiesbaden, the 2011 champion reduced to a single win in 2012, used an influx of players from closed Heidelberg to return to a championship level.
“Two great communities coming together,” Jewell said. “I knew if we were able to meld the team together, we’d be ok.”
Ramstein coach Carlos Amponin declined to comment after the game.