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2013 season: Wild Boars
Available in:Mia Bajin
The PBB Kragujevac Wild Boars were founded in 2003. Since then, the team has proven to be one of the best teams in Eastern Europe and arguably the top team in Serbia (along with SBB Vukovi Belgrade).
The team won the Serbian Cup in 2005, the CEFL (formerly known as SELAF) in 2006, the SAFS title in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In 2011, the team advance to the EFAF Cup final before falling to the London Blitz in the championship game. In 2012. Wild Boars ended their season with a 7-2 record in the domestic league and are silver medalist holders.
"The 2012 season started off slow with a new head coach & system, but the team improved drastically upon Jeremy Payton’s return midway through the season. However, a loss to Vukovi in the championship game was a big disappointment." - states the Wild Boars office.
Interesting fact to mention – the Wild Boars had 13 players on the national team that won the European C Group in 2012 and DB Darko Cvetković was named the Defensive MVP of the C Group tournament.
2013 will be the return of the Wild Boars to the CEFL. The team previously played in the SELAF in 2006/2007, winning the title in 2006 before going 07 in 2007 after a generation change.
“We are returning to the CEFL in 2013, because our coaches, players, and management are all motivated to prove that we are not only one of the top teams in Serbia, but also in Central/Eastern Europe. We proved in 2010, by being the first Eastern European team to win an EFAF Cup game and in 2011 by advancing all the way to the EFAF Cup championship game.” says the Wild Boars team president, Nemanja Čalija, who is very optimistic about the 2013 season and continues: "It's simple. Two titles."
Head coach and quarterback Stan Bedwell adds: "After losing in three straight championship games in 2011/2012 (2 SAAF/1 EFAF Cup), our players are hungry to get back to what we do in Kragujevac: Win Championships. In my previous three seasons in KG, I have never seen the players as determined as they are for the 2013 season. Everyone is more motivated in the gym, in the classroom, and on the practice field. We are averaging 60 players at our practices and we have full intention of fighting for and winning both the SAAF and CEFL championships this season.”
Besides the seniors, Wild Boars have the U19 team, a flag team and a women's flag team, and all are involved in community work. They have been the instrumental part of the community in fundraising for various charities and organizations. The team's management has a strong background in marketing and they are not afraid to use their skills for the benefit of many good causes.
One of the most notable media coverages was a documentary about the WB veteran - Aleksandar Ristić - Alf, who was also named the top athlete in Kragujevac.
As we all know, it's rather hard to develop and run a successful american football club in Europe. On how to run a team – the Wild Boars' board says: "You must first empathize with the players and understand their passion for the sport and the club. You must put a lot of effort to gain relationships with the people that run the city and acquire adequate sponsorships. You work hard everyday to ensure what’s best for your team. We ask the coaches to give 100% in the classroom and on trainings, we ask the players to give 100% on the field, and the president/management must give 100% and sometimes more to make everything work in the club at the highest level."
Like every football program in Europe, they had a lot of help from the American coaches and players to help raise their level. Some of the most notable ones are Stan Bedwell QB/HC (2008/2009/2011/2013) with 11,471 yards and 145 touchdowns; Manny Diaz QB (2010), Janos Serfozos WR (2010), Nick Merklin WR/DB (2009), Bryan and Jeremy Payton RB/WR/DB (2011) and coach Richard Bonds (2012).
Now, Wild Boars have wrapped up their 2013 signings - Stan Bedwell QB/HC - 8 year EU veteran, Lonnie Hursey DC, Trey McVay WR and Chad Rusinkovich WR. There's one notable domestic arrival from the Angel Warriors - Milorad Živković WR.
Bedwell is already a known name - 8 year EU veteran who also coached successful junior college teams. He's excited to be back in Kragujevac - "I have unfinished business in Kragujevac. After winning the championship my first two seasons, I missed the 2011 championship game against Belgrade after breaking my leg two weeks earlier in the EFAF Cup Final. I had to watch from the sideline as we lost the game. I do not want my legacy in Kragujevac to end that way. Kragujevac is like my second home. I chose to come back to the Wild Boars to win two championships this season. Nothing less."
Lonnie Hursey, who will be the defensive coordinator for the Boars, has been coaching around Europe for about 5 years now, and like Bedwell - he has been coaching at junior college level. Coach Hursey says: I have known Stan for four years. After visiting the Serbian championship game last year and seeing the Wild Boars in person, I was very interested in joining such a strong program and working to win a championship. The team has done a great job of welcoming us to the city and making us feel part of the family since day one."
McVay, the wide receiver, is 2011 1st team NCAA D2 All American for Northeastern State University (Oklahoma). Led the nation in receiving as a senior. Accounted for 34 touchdowns and 3,985 yards in his collegiate career. Set the NCAA single game record (all divisions) in 2011 with 16 catches for 425 yards and 6 touchdowns against Harding University. - "I am so happy that the Wild Boars gave me a chance to join their team. Stan has said great things about the team and everyone from the team that I talked to online seemed great. I am sure I will be a great fit for the team and I am very happy to be here."
Chad Rusinkovich is 2011 NCAA D3 All American for Northwestern College (Minnesota). Previously spent two seasons with the University of San Diego (NCAA D1FCS) as starting punt returner and reserve WR. Signed a contract with the Utah Blaze of the Arena Football League in 2012 and had two catches in the first game of the season before suffering a season ending shoulder injury.- "Stan helped my decision making process a lot and the more I learned about the club, the more I was amazed by it’s success. I always dreamed to be an ambassador of the game in another country, so I’m very grateful to the Wild Boars organization for giving me the opportunity to join them."
This will be the first season in EU for McVay and Rusinkovich. and they had to go through some adjusting. McVay says that he had to get used to walking everywhere, but that he got used to it, while Rusinkovich had to adapt to the weather which is colder than the one in California.
Expectations are high, and all imports agree on one thing - winning the championship.
“I believe the most unique situation with the Wild Boars is the true family atmosphere. You hear it preached throughout Europe, but it is a reality in Kragujevac. All of the guys on the team are truly best friends and brothers. This was most recognized in 2008, when longtime Wild Boar and assistant coach Veljko Makojevic suffered a fatal car accident shortly after the 3933 SAFS championship win over SBB Vukovi Belgrade. The 2009 team dedicated the season to Veljko,carrying a huge banner of his face to all games. After going 90 and defeating the Belgrade BlueDragons 6933 in the championship game, the team wore tshirts in honor of Veljko on the field. To this day, the team still visits Veljko’s grave regularly before games and holds his banner proudly on the sideline. This is a perfect example of what the Wild Boars are about and what it means to me: Family.” HC/QB Stan Bedwell.