On 24.07.2016 in Novi Sad (Serbia), Sofia Bears became champions of the Third Serbian League (TSL). For those of you who don't know, for the second consecutive year the Bears play in the last unit of the Serbian championship in American football. Last year, Sofia Bears were first in the final standings, but then there was no permission from the federation for the Bulgarians to climb to a higher division. This year, there was no such restriction.
The opportunity to climb to the Second Division gave an even greater incentive for the boys to give their best in matches and under the scorching Serbian sun, the furious Bears defense allowed only 18 points scored for the six matches throughout the season, against the 214 scored by our team. Of course, all this would not have happened if it were not for the unreserved support of the main sponsor of the team – beer company Britos, thanks to which the Bears traveled 6 times to neighboring Serbia.
After the Bears allowed only 6 points scored in the group stage, it was not unexpected their ranking for the final, beating the teams of the "Hawks" from the city of Obrenovac in the quarterfinals (57:0) and the "Golden Bears" from Bor in the semifinals (28:12). Thus, naturally, the two strongest teams in TSL "Wild Dogs" from Novi Sad and our "Bears" met in the final.
Although there was a preliminary agreement for the final to be played on a neutral ground, the meeting was held in Novi Sad and so at 17:00 Serbian time, the sixteen Bulgarian players stepped on the field and faced twice as many "dogs". For a number of reasons, several major players of Sofia residents were not present on the field.
However, the Bears adapted, improvised and overcame the obstacle. In place of the absent playing coach Anton Doykov, Simeon Vasilev stepped in, who returned after an injury, and did not show in any way that the months off the field have negatively affected his game. The outside linebacker made a strong match, not allowing to go through his zone with impunity.
The safety Todor Stamenov and the runningback Alexander Kenanov also made a very strong match. Stamenov distinguished himself with two touchdowns and numerous "tackles" (a hit in American football), being several times the last barrier to the attack of Novi Sad and contributing to the big zero on the scoreboard for the points scored by the hosts.
Kenanov, who this game stepped back (literally) from the fullback position and played as a runningback, scored a touchdown on the ground in the third quarter, passing through the huge hole that fullback Anatoly Krasnocharov and the hearty offensive line opened for him. Kenanov also scored in the first quarter when he cut the enemy line and blocked the opponent's punt, but because after the block the ball went outside the opponent's endzone instead of a touchdown, the Bears recorded safety. Kostadin Filchev scored the fourth touchdown for Sofia, as the young tight-end caught the thirty yard pass passed by Nikolay Georgiev and ran the other fifteen to the opponent's endzone.
The truth is that in this game, and throughout the season, the strength of the Bears came from team spirit. The team built over the years and the unreserved support that the boys have for each other, both on and off the field, was the strongest weapon of the Bulgarians. In unity with the motto of the team "NO EXCUSES" Veselin Bonchev and Alexander Shterionov gave everything and played injured this match, but this did not stop them from giving away blow after blow opponent. The traditionally neglected offensive line for another game tossed opponents. Led by veteran Boris Mutafchiev – Ivan Dachev, Alexander Bogdanov, Veselin Bonchev and Simeon Vassilev opened entire highways for the Bulgarian attack to run on, and in a pass gave the necessary time to quarterback Georgiev.
On the second line, corners Veselin Stoyanov and Radoslav Tashev did not give a chance to the opposing receivers. Tashev played an extremely strong season and received the prize for the most valuable player of the season. The best player for the final was Alexander Kenanov.
Thus for the Bears, the Third Serbian League saga is over. In summary, nearly 5,000 kilometers turned, 214:18 scored to points conceded, and in four of the six games the opponent did not score, a lot of sweat and blood, a lot of joy, a few "pandas" and a big "prospect" for next year in the challenge called the Second Serbian League.
We at Sofia Bears express our sincere gratitude to the Serbian Federation of American Football for the opportunity to develop our favorite sport and the endless gratitude to the loyal supporters of the team who make each of our victories so much sweeter.