The Copenhagen Towers are now within one game of capping an unbeaten season by lifting the Mermaid Bowl, the end-of-season championship game that they have not contested since 1996, and not won since 1995.
On Sunday, the Towers beat the Aarhus Tigers 38-13 in the semi-finals at their home ground in Gentofte, and they will face the defending champions, the Triangle Razorbacks of Vejle, in the final game of the season at the Auto C Park in Randerson October 12.
The Razorbacks saw off the Søllerød Gold Diggers in the semi the team that last year denied a previously unbeaten Towers side a place in the final with a cruel overtime win.
But there was no such drama against the Tigers, who found themselves 0-31 down heading into the final quarter. The score wasn’t necessarily a reflection of the play – the Tigers put together several long drives towards the end of the first half, and save one incomplete pass that was made up for on second down, the Tigers converted on four straight first downs on one particular drive.
But when push came to shove, the Towers defence tightened up and held the Tigers from the end zone. DL Robert Glæsel, a tower of a man, batted down a pass on fourth down as the second quarter drew to a close, while Mark Terkelsbøl forced a fumble that teammate Mikkel Stilling recovered on the previous drive.
Offensively the Towers were in sync all day. RB Casper Jensen was in MVP-form as he scored the first two touchdowns of the game. Both scores were short runs, but Jensen himself gained most of the yards leading up to the scores. A fast runner, Jensen gained very solid yards when beating the defence to the outside, but also showed his toughness when hammering through would-be tacklers in the middle.
WR Aske Troen has taken his aggressive football style to the US, but WRs Lasse Tor, Nicklas Teige and Lau Mikkelsen made sure that the offence never missed a beat. All-purpose threat Patrick Hargett saw action at WR too, and he came up with an athletic touchdown catch to show for it.
Despite having lost several offensive linemen to studies in the US and other obligations, the Towers still boast a strong, heavy, skilled and tough offensive line. Seeing QB JR Artozqui under pressure has become somewhat rare, which speaks volumes for the talent level of the men up front.
Despite a few miscues, the special teams came up with a number of key plays, such as limiting the Tigers to five net yards on a punt on one occasion.
Depth is paramount to a football team, and the Towers are fortunate to have quality back-ups for practically all the positions. RB Mads Hermansen and occasionally FB Jannik Linden carried the ball as well, but calling Linden a back-up would be an injustice. The veteran, and only current Tower to have played in the Mermaid Bowl, is a bruising blocker and most likely near the top of Casper Jensen’s Christmas card list.
As has been the case throughout the season, QB Christian Lisby saw playing time again and continued his development into a National League-starting calibre player.
Once a powerhouse measured by the number of Mermaid Bowls played and won, the Towers began a downward slide in 1997. But that has been arrested under head coach Peter Herbild, who has now posted two straight undefeated regular seasons.
On Sunday, players and fans talked about how the semi-final curse had been broken. Last year’s loss to the Søllerød Gold Diggers is a distant memory. The future holds a return to the Mermaid Bowl.
And should they win, the Towers might land an amazing treble. Their under-16s team last weekend won their championship game, the Future Bowl, and the under-19s will contest the Junior Bowl immediately before the Mermaid Bowl.
The Mermaid Bowl will start at 19:30 on Saturday October 12 and be televised live on TV3 Sport. Buy tickets at www.mbowl.dk.