The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 10, 2013

International football: Passing a Czech


Daily Item

---- — By Todd Hummel

For The Daily Item

EASTON -- Andrew Shoop didn't want his football career to end after his final game as Lafayette's quarterback in November.

"I wanted my football career to continue in some facet," Shoop said.

That wish will come true this week when Shoop, a former Danville High School standout, flies to Prague, Czechoslovakia, to play for the Prague Black Panthers.

The Black Panthers play in the Austrian Football League, one of the top American football leagues in Europe. The champion from the AFL won the European Football Cup -- Europe's soccer-style tournament for all of its professional football leagues -- from 2004 through 2011.

Rob Curley, Lafayette's senior starting quarterback when Shoop was a freshman, recommended that Shoop consider playing football in Europe. Curley has played for teams in Sweden and Switzerland.

"He made a couple of contacts for me. Then I made a profile on a web site (eurofootball.com) with a highlight tape and a football resumé," Shoop said. "I had a lot of contacts from teams and it was just a matter of finding the most competitive brand of football."

Shoop would like to parlay this opportunity in Europe into a chance to play quarterback in the Arena League or the Canadian Football League.

"I hoping to use this as a stepping stone," Shoop said. "I made a couple of contacts (through the web site) with those leagues. I want to sharpen my skills in a high-caliber football league. You might think football would take a backseat to soccer (in Europe), but it's a high-level league."

Shoop started nine games for the Leopards last season, completing 61.2 percent of his passes for 1,657 yards and 14 touchdowns. For his career, Shoop played in 23 games, completing 58.6 percent of his passes for 3,705 yards, 30 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

One would expect an adjustment to playing football in a foreign country, but Shoop has had little trouble finding advice. Though he hadn't spoken to either of two former Selinsgrove quarterbacks that played in Europe -- Jack Lydic and Derek Pope -- he received some help from former Bloomsburg University quarterback and Loyalsock High graduate Pat Carey.

"Pat actually transferred from Lafayette to Bloomsburg so I knew him pretty well. Pat plays for a team in Munich," Shoop said. "We plan on actually meeting up while we're over there."

In addition, Shoop has already had several conversations with one of the other American's on the Prague roster, Andre Whyte, who will be his roommate.

In addition, Shoop's coach in Europe, Tom Smythe, has won six National Championships and two European Cups in his career. Smythe is also the all-time winningest high school coach in Oregon history.

All of these factors make Shoop really excited for the season.

"Everybody speaks English in the country so language shouldn't be a problem," Shoop said. "We have a new head coach who knows what to do with the talent we have. I really think we'll be in good shape."

Another plus is the season is over in July, so Shoop will be able to finish his degree at Lafayette in the fall and graduate in December.