Birds Bowl I
By Peter Lewis
The early morning demons, that at some point in ancient history decided that the Intruders always have to have the first game at indoor tournaments, heralded April 1st. Eight Zürich players resplendent in their traditional orange and gray uniforms were all set at 09:30 in the rather impressive ETH Sports Center facilities up at Hönggerberg. This was Birds Bowl I, a new location, new name and new hosts for the Rangerbowl, now consigned to the annals for football history in Canton, OH.
Our first opponents were cross town rivals, the Renegades. Each of their players fresh from taking vitamin shots all winter long and exceeding at least 6ft 6in in the vertical department, glanced confidently at our seemingly salary capped roster. But the Greek Gods of flag football were not on the sides of Adonis this spring morning as the Renegades offense stuttered to find any rhythm whilst the Intruders' QB drove his team down the length of the hall for a regular diet of 6 point scores. At the half, all of was even again, but excellent time management and some solid defense gave the Intruders the last possession and with the last throw of the game, Cipullo found Martinez at the right hand corner for the winning score.
Game two was the Neuchâtel Knights, who come from an area seemingly lacking in able bodied men, but bountiful with young ladies graced with flags and an enthusiasm for the game of football. But charm won't win you points against an Intruders team that was by now, clicking on all cylinders. Receiver Guay pulled in five scoring catches as the offense racked up the points. In the end, the Knights scored one TD with an extra point conversion, two great plays that at least gave the Romandes something to cheerful to talk about on their long drive back home.
With the final stages now beckoning, the group's toughest challenge in the shape of the home team Mockingbirds kicked (or snapped) off at 2PM. This game was evenly balanced. Sanchez cut thru the MBirds central defense with Barry Sanders agility whilst Teubert and Martinez were making new "friends" after some minor and completely incidental contact. DB Matthias was always one step ahead of the Birds' receivers, his well-timed fingertip interventions denying their scores. With the Mockingbirds missing extra points and a great TD catch by returning Intruder Bridenbaker, it was all about killing the clock. After Teubert took in a long pass and pirouetted his way towards the end zone, things were looking good. Cipullo's coach-defying attempt of stealing defeat from the hands of victory gave at least 7 other rather stupefied Intruders a heart-stopping moment, but his linebacker-style flag grab, saved the play after an INT that would have otherwise lost us the game.
By now, the Intruders were 3 and 0, and playoff bound. Only four teams advanced, so we took to the hall once again, this time against the newly created ASVZ Blackbirds, the deluxe and better skilled version of the Mockingbirds. This was clearly apparent with their gold numbers glistening on their matt black apparel. But it wasn't to be. A few aches and pains and dropped balls denied the Intruders their fourth victory and the Blackbirds ripped apart our defense and showboated their thunderous offense as we fell by the wayside.
For a new footballing year, it was a great showing. Friends reunited and good times had. The Zürich Intruders now looking at a great new Swiss League season, new uniforms and our usual subtle mix of humor, charisma and a deep love of sarcasm and baiting.