The ELF Rundown: Week One Action Impresses | Levi Lewis

The ELF Rundown: Week One Action Impresses

Week one of the ELF is in the books, in their fourth season. The league has seen some changes over the past year, with a couple of new franchises joining the fold. Additionally, the talent levels, from both a players and coaching perspective, continues to improve from year to year.

The ELF puts on an impressive American football product, one with a couple of European Twists. Let’s take a look at what went down this past weekend over in Europe.

Fehervar Enthroners vs. Vienna Vikings

The Vienna Vikings immediately look like one of the best teams in the ELF. They took care of business on the road this week, taking down the Entroners in dominant fashion, 43-18. Vienna jumped out to a 19-0 lead, and despite a 12 point surge from Fehervar in the second quarter, it was too much to overcome.

Remember Ben Holmes? The former first round pick for the New Jersey Generals in 2022? After some time in the CFL, he ended up signing with Vienna – and put on a show. Holmes threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns, with one blemish being a pick six. Regardless, he showed up in a big-time way in his ELF debut.

RB Karri Pajarinen had a solid day as well. He rushed for 99 yards on 23 carries, scoring three touchdowns of his own. Despite missing their American Import at WR, Jordan Bouah was stellar, with 107 yards and all three receiving touchdowns.

On the Enthroners side, someone to keep an eye on is Nathanial Robitaille, who recorded 10 catches for a whopping 174 yards and a score. He was one of the few bright spots for this team. LB Benedek Bodnar also recorded 4.5 tackles for loss, making an impact in the backfield.

Helvetic Mercenaries vs. Barcelona Dragons

The Barcelona Dragons put together a comeback victory on the road, led by former D1 quarterback Levi Lewis. Lewis is someone that many saw as a spring football prospect prior to the merger, and our very own Logan Graffia wrote a piece on why he should sign with the New Orleans Breakers.

Levi played an excellent game, completing 23 of his 36 pass attempts for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Where Barcelona struggled is on the ground, with only 52 rushing yards on 28 attempts. If the Dragons want to win more games moving forward, that area has to improve.

This is a game that the Mercenaries probably feel like they should have won. They outgained Barcelona by over 100 yards offensively, but were outscored 20-7 in the second half. Their WR Anthony Brown had a tremendous performance, with nine catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Linebacker John Falk had a big day, tallying 19 tackles as well.

Both of these teams matched up pretty well against each other, but it was the late heroics from an underdog Barcelona team that brought them to victory.

Milano Seamen vs. Tirol Raiders

One of the most lopsided affairs in the ELF came between Milano and Tirol. The Raiders absolutely pummeled the Seamen, despite being on the road.

Former D3 Champion, D’Angelo Fulford, proved to be a big pickup for Tirol at the quarterback position. Fulford has been in and out of the spring football scene, most recently with the XFL’s Vegas Vipers. This weekend, D’Angelo threw for 196 yards and two touchdowns, as Tirol shut out the Raiders, 32-0.

The stat sheets tell the story of this game:

  • Tirol Raiders with 18 first downs, Milano with only 7
  • The Raiders were 6/12 on third downs, Milano just 1/10
  • Milano turned the ball over four times, to Tirol’s one
  • Tirol Raiders posted 335 yards of offense, the Seaman had only 112

It might be a bit too early to tell, but the Milano Seaman look like one of the worst teams in the ELF. The Raiders, on the other hand, are trending in the right direction.

Wroclaw Panthers vs. Berlin Thunder

This game is what the ELF is all about. Wroclaw had an outstanding crowd of over 15,000 in attendance for their 2024 opener, in what was a down to the wire matchup between two entertaining organizations.

The Wroclaw Panthers ended up coming away with a 49-39 victory at home, making those 15k fans proud. QB Steven Duncan, the former Tarleton State product, had himself a day – tossing four touchdowns alongside 230 yards. The Panthers offensive onslaught could not be slowed down, with 384 yards on the day.

Now, Berlin played a pretty solid game themselves, with 396 offensive yards of their own. Jakeb Sullivan, their American import at signal caller, threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns in what was a back and forth affair. They had a 20-7 lead in the first half, but watched it slip away down the stretch.

The Panthers are a deep football team, as their roster boasts plenty of talent. Defensively, a shoutout needs to be given to LB A.J. Wentland, who led Wroclaw with 16 tackles and 4.5 TFL’s.

Cologne Centurions vs. Rhein Fire

While the final score of 42-12 looks pretty lopsided, this was a closer affair than one would think. The Centurions held their own against the reigning ELF Champs for large portions of this game, but ultimately collapsed in the second half.

Towards the end of the first half, QB Isaiah Weed threw an interception to Rhein, after getting his own team into the redzone. A massive return set up a score, as the Rhein Fire poured on 21 points in the second quarter alone.

Defensively, the Fire played an outstanding second half. This allowed their offense to find their rhythm, and ultimately blow Cologne away. WR Kelvin McKnight Jr. – formerly with the Seattle Sea Dragons – led the Fire with nine catches for 100 yards.

Statistically, the Centurions shouldn’t have lost by 30 points. They actually had more first downs (22) than Rhein did (20), and were only outgained offensively by 71 yards. Their biggest issue was protecting the football, with three turnovers on the day. Rhein, on the other hand, didn’t allow any takeaways.

Prague Lions vs. Hamburg Sea Devils

The Hamburg Sea Devils got the job done on the road this week, taking down the Prague Lions 31-21. Hamburg held momentum and control for most of this affair, taking a 31-7 lead. The Lions had a late surge to pull within two scores, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the large deficit.

Javarian Smith looked like a star in his ELF debut. Smith threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns, and Lucas Harting Candido added 135 yards on the ground – as Hamburg posted 461 yards of total offense. Candido currently leads all ELF running backs after his big outing.

Now, the Lions put up a fight. They had 397 offensive yards of their own. For Prague, they went 0-2 on fourth down attempts, and also had two turnovers. These are two good teams that went at it, and one would expect the Lions to potentially get revenge when they face off down the road.

Stuttgart Surge vs. Munich Ravens

In front of over 8,000 fans, the Stuttgart Surge took care of business at home. The Munich Ravens were clearly outmatched across the board in this game, as the Surge held them to just five points on the day. Stuttgart waltzed to a 27-5 victory to open up the ELF season, after coming up just short in the Championship game a year ago.

Their quarterback Reilly Hennessey returned for another year, and played well. He threw for 156 yards and three touchdowns, and the Surge rushed for 180 yards against a reeling Munich defense. Even without star WR Darrell Stewart for most of the game, Stuttgart looked like a well oiled machine.

The Munich Ravens were a putrid 0/12 on third down attempts in this ball game. Clearly, you can’t win football games with a stat line like that. They were held to less than 200 total yards as well. One bright spot: they converted on 5 of 6 fourth down tries. That’s impressive. Head Coach Kendral Ellison will have to figure out a way to get this team into an offensive rhythm earlier, though, as five points isn’t going to cut it.

Final Thoughts

It was an exciting and energetic opening week of action in the European League Of Football. The ELF continues to grow the game of American Football overseas, and are in a position to keep the positive momentum rolling through season four.

It’s fantastic to see so many opportunities for players to continue their dreams of playing pro football. Leagues like the ELF need to exist in this landscape, and so far, they’re doing an impressive job of improving from year to year.

For those wanting to keep up with all the games here in the states, you can acquire ELF Game Pass here.

What are your thoughts on week one action in the ELF? Which teams and players impressed you? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!