D1 Elite – Presentation of the final

We could hardly have dreamed of a better poster for the 26th Diamond Helmet, featuring a clash between the Flash and the Black Panthers. On the one hand, we have the most successful team in the history of the French championship. On the other, we have the defending champion, who will also have the pleasure of playing at home.

Presentation of a final that promises to be exciting, with a look back at the season, the duels to follow, and the keys to the match.

Where, when and how to follow the final?

Direction Thonon for this 26th Diamond Helmet, with a Moynat Stadium that will surely be boiling to support the Black Panthers. The stadium will be open from 3:30 p.m. to enjoy entertainment and food trucks in particular. A concert will precede the match, which kicks off at 6 p.m.

If you want to follow this final on TV, it’s happening on Sport in France, a channel available on the internet and on all boxes. Go here for all the information.

Previously in the season

Regular season

A true institution of the French Elite championship, the Flash was announced as the favorite for this 2022 season. And in other words, they validated this status quickly, with a thunderous introduction. La Courneuve thus inflicted a scathing 35-0 to the Black Panthers in the opening match. A domination that was confirmed, since the club of 93 won its first 9 regular season games, with significant differences in each game and more than 40 points scored on average. But the machine was a little jammed at the end of the season, with 2 defeats in quick succession, the first in the European Cup and an elimination in the semi-finals of CEFL, then a first defeat in the league against Thonon during the last day.

As for the Black Panthers, it’s the opposite, with a sluggish start, and therefore this heavy opening defeat against the Flash, followed by a very narrow victory against the Cougars (28-27). But once the adjustments were made and the rhythm found, this team was almost unstoppable. Thonon has thus won its last 9 regular season games, putting an end to La Courneuve’s invincibility.


The good form of the Black Panthers was confirmed during the 1er round of the playoffs, with a controlled wild-card match and an easy 41-0 victory over the Bears. Meanwhile, the Flash was enjoying a week off, earned thanks to the 1time place in the North Division.

In the semi-finals, La Courneuve found a well-known team in the North division: the Cougars. In the two regular season confrontations, there was no photo, with victories of more than 20 points for the Flash and more than 40 points scored each time. A scenario that repeated itself in the semi-final. As often, La Courneuve imposed its entry pace, scoring the first points of the match. Then, Saint-Ouen showed great things, with several deep incursions into the opposing camp, but the 5 interceptions in the in-goal hurt a lot, and behind, the Flash knew how to capitalize with a balanced and effective attack to punish them.

The Black Panthers were on the move to Marseille, for a shock against the Blue Stars who arrived undefeated. Indeed, the Marseille team had a very quiet regular season, with 10 wins in 10 games. The first big test thus arrived in the playoffs, and faced with a very big piece. And this semi-final kept its promises, with in particular a rather crazy scenario. The Blue Stars struck first, but thanks to very good attacking adjustments in the 2th quarter, the Black Panthers managed to reverse the trend and take a short break. But Marseille reacted well before half-time to close the gap, and the momentum was confirmed with a dominated second half of the match. The Blue Stars thus came back and went back in front, but they left points en route with missed opportunities. And that allowed Thonon to regain control at the end of the match thanks to a very nice last drive. Then the defense held and Marseille decided not to attempt a potential winning field-goal…

Flash vs. Black Panthers
Flash and Black Panthers know each other well, with already 3 confrontations this year

Match results

DaytimeLa Courneuve Flash (9-1)Black Panthers of Thonon (9-1)
D1Flash 35 – Black Panthers 0Flash 35 – Black Panthers 0
J2Hounds 6 – Flash 40Cougars 27 – Black Panthers 28
D3Spartans 0 – Flash 63Black Panthers 53 – Vikings 0
D4Flash 44 – Cougars 20Spartans 21 – Black Panthers 42
D5Vikings 16 – Flash 45Black Panthers 21 – Hounds 6
D6Flash 49 – Hounds 7Black Panthers 35 – Cougars 14
D7Flash 86 – Vikings 0Hounds 15 – Black Panthers 34
D8Cougars 21 – Flash 41Black Panthers 42 – Spartans 0
D9Flash 23 – Spartans 0Vikings 7 – Black Panthers 34
D10Black Panthers 38 – Flash 21Black Panthers 38 – Flash 21
Playoffs – WildcardBlack Panthers 41 – Bears 0
Playoffs – Semi-finalFlash 34 – Cougars 2Blue Stars 27 – Black Panthers 28

The keys to the final

The Black Panthers ground game

The success of Larry Legault’s Black Panthers has often gone through an effective attack on the ground, and this identity is still well inked. Hoping that Akiva Wedge is 100% – the American RB went out injured during the semi-final – Thonon has an excellent duo (with Nicolas Khandar), who is capable of hurting the defense of La Courneuve. And it’s not an easy mission, because the Flash’s defensive line is probably the strongest in the championship.

A strong ground game will allow the Black Panthers to open up air space for Brett Hunchak, who excels at the short and middle game. And he showed it during the season, he is very clean (0 interceptions) when he is in comfort. The objective for Thonon is therefore not to put too much responsibility on their quarterback.

La Courneuve and the rhythm of the match

This scenario has repeated itself all season, the Flash often scores first and quite quickly in the game. This then allows them to manage the tempo of the match, and to have a sort of snowball effect in terms of the score. It was therefore not uncommon to see La Courneuve leading by 2 or 3 touchdowns after the 1er quarter, making a comeback by the opposing team too complicated.

If the Flash forces Thonon to chase the score, it will force Larry Legault and his staff to change their approach. It will be more complicated to set up the initial game plan, and in particular to install this ground game so important for the Black Panthers. This will force Thonon to take more risks offensively, especially in the air, and therefore expose themselves to mistakes. And we saw it throughout the season and again in the semi-finals, the Flash knows how to take advantage of it.

Duels to follow

Many exciting duels will be to follow during this final, with in particular beautiful oppositions of style in attack. At quarterback, we will have a duel between the arm of Conor Miller and the management of Brett Hunchak. And at the running-back position, the fluidity of Jason Bofunda will be opposed to the power of Nicolas Khandar.

Quarterbacks: Conor Miller vs. Brett Hunchak

The Flash’s No. 1 QB, Conor Miller, finished the season quite far from the statistical leaders, but he played a lot less. The constant domination of the Flash allowed the team to rotate a lot, and Nicholas Simoneau took the opportunity to notably give playing time to the young French international quarterback Leo Cremades. For his part, Miller finished the season with 1,422 yards and 18 touchdowns (for only 2 interceptions), all in just 140 attempted passes. Well protected by his offensive line, the American QB was able to show that he was one of the best pure passers in the championship, notably with the ability to make the difference on long passes.

Opposite, the Canadian Brett Hunchak presents a different style, much less spectacular and more in management. Often well helped by the ground game, he ensures the blow by advancing his team on short and intermediate passes. One thing he does wonderfully since he did not throw a single interception during the regular season (for 24 touchdowns). His arm is less impressive, but if put in the right conditions, he will distribute the game and move the chains.

Running-backs: Jason Bofunda vs Nicolas Khandar

Named among the finalists for the MVP trophy, Jason Bofunda is the Flash’s backfield leader, even if the work is shared with François Pion and Guillaume Buquet because La Courneuve likes to vary the pleasures. But Bofunda is the most effective, since he finished number 2 in yards (672) during the regular season, in only 82 carries… He thus displays a rather impressive average of 8.2 yards gained per carry, a sign of a superb vision of the game and a certain ability to exploit the breaches that open up. He is also an excellent finisher, having finished first in the championship with his 11 touchdowns on the ground.

Among the Black Panthers, Nicolas Khandar is the RB who finished leading his team in yards (585) as in touchdowns (9) during the regular season. He shines with his power, which makes him difficult to stop, and with sometimes devastating cuts. Khandar is thus able to transform badly embarked actions into yard gains. It also forms a nice duo with the American RB Akiva Wedge, which has a compact profile with fire supports.

Conor Miller - Flash
Conor Miller’s arm can make the difference in the final (photo: @Anna Shnaider – Flash)

Statistical Leaders

passesConor MillerFlash56.4%, 1,422 yards, 18 TDs – 2 INTs
Brett HunchakBlack Panthers59.6%, 1,524 yards, 24 TDs – 0 INTs
RacesJason BofundaFlash82 carries, 672 yards, 11 TDs
Nicholas KhandarBlack Panthers78 carries, 585 yards, 9 TDs
ReceptionsStephane FortesFlash28 receptions, 631 yards, 12 TDs
Felix DurandBlack Panthers14 receptions, 344 yards, 5 TDs
TacklesAnge-Adrien KamganFlash28.5 tackles
Benjamin MulindahabiBlack Panthers53.5 tackles
BagsAnge-Adrien KamganFlash7 bags
Paul AndradeBlack Panthers3 bags
interceptionsWadjihe Said / Junior Smith / Maxime RogerFlash2 interceptions
Benjamin Mulindahabi / Guillaume Rolle / Kristof Szakacs / Adel BafdileBlack Panthers2

Laisser un commentaire