The Ljubljana Silverhawks finished the regular season as the number two team, they lost only once; their linebacker Desmond Hendricks won the Defensive Player of the Year award for the second time and they’ll play in their second CEFL Bowl. They also successfully defended their domestic championship. All in all, life is pretty good in Ljubljana and no matter what the outcome is on Saturday, they can definitely be proud of everything they’ve done and what kind of a team they’ve become.
Bringing back Hendricks was a success, Anthony Gardner passed for more touchdowns than the offensive MVP Lance Kriesien and so on. They didn’t have a lot of misses, but they also enjoyed a huge production from another newcomer – and also not an import player. Tight end Bojan Justin played in his first CEFL season and finished the season with 389 yards receiving – good enough for number one on the 2012 receiving chart for the whole league. That sort of production is very rare for a new player. Who is he and where did he come from?
“I am playing ball for 3 years. Yes, not really a long time. I started with the Alp Devils Kranj. In 2011 I got an opportunity to play for the Swiss team Gladiators Basel and when I went back to Slovenia, I realized that the Alp Devils are playing just six regular season games in the 2012 season and the quarterback was still struggling. So after a few months I went to the Silverhawks”, says Justin of his start with the Silverhawks and in football in general.
Such a story was nothing new, but only if we consider a period almost 10 years ago now. In 2012, most teams’ best players are either imports or have been on the team for a long time, either with the first team or coming through the junior programs.
“First of all, I was preparing myself really hard in the offseason. I was doing two workouts a day, trying to get stronger and faster. When the season started i just gave 100%. I think Jernej Pavlič, Jan Jakus, even our oldest receiver Rok Štamcar, had also pretty good regular seasons. And definitely our defense gave us a lot of opportunities.”
He’s had some really good games and some good games this year. Most of all, he’s been pretty consistent, catching a touchdown in every game but the first. His high was 121 and his low 51 yards. If there was any doubt if the Silverhawks can outplay teams like the Blue Devils, he did his best to remove the doubts. Especially against the Blue Devils, where he had 212 yards and 4 touchdowns in two games. The final game and the Belgrade team is of course something different.
“I just know, against Belgrade you can’t play just two quarters of good football. We have to give everything for the whole game. You have to leave your heart on the field and play Silverhawks football. That’s all we need to win.”
“I think they are a pretty good team. They have a good coaching staff and talented players.”
Can they or can’t they, we’ll find out on Saturday. But the Silverhawks are not a team that just plans to come and enjoy the final.
“The whole team is confident and focused just on this game”, said Justin as last.