The Thonon Black Panthers (4-0) play their first home game of the season in the French Federation of American Football, FFFA, Elite division when they play host to the Montpellier Hurricanes (3-1) in the fifth weekend of play.
Led by quarterback Clark Evans, the Black Panthers, back-to-back finalists for the French title in 2017 and 2018, have looked solid in the four games they have played. Evans has thrown for 624 yards and 10 touchdowns in wins over the Aix-en-Provence Argonautes (51-0), Marseillie Blue Stars (20-18), Grenoble (35-3) and the Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons (46-0) . So far his leading receiver has been Benjamin Plu with 152 yards with Leo Sarteel next at 145. Although Thonon’s running backs racked up 296 yards rushing in the opening game win over the Argonautes, they were held to just 60 against Marseille. They picked up the pace in the wins over Grenoble and the Falcons and now total have a total of 623 for the year with Evans the leading rusher with 291 yards on the year.
In the wins over the Grenoble Centaures, Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons and Aix-en-Provence Argonautes and loss to Marseille (50-26), Montpellier Hurricanes quarterback Hunter Hughes has been excellent, throwing for 1,136 yards and 12 TDs Hughes leading receiver, Quentin Gramage leads all receivers in France with 494 yards and 6 TDs while Adrien Darmana (292 yds, 2 TDs) and Deric Manzolo (125 yds, 2 TD) are also keys. Running back Davis Ebaneth has carried the ball 23 times for 140 yards in the three games he has played in.
Although Thonon is the favorite in this game, the animosity between the two teams could be a factor. The Black Panthers blamed Montpellier for the last minute postponement of their opening game in Montpellier in February. Although the French federation looked into the accusation and found no wrongdoing on the part of the Hurricanes organization, declaring them blameless, some members of the Thonon club could well be still holding a grudge. That game, by the way, has been rescheduled for May.