AFI’s Europe Top 20: 2018 Coaches Poll – April 20

Our second Top 20 of 2018,  includes the input of some of the best coaches in Europe. We’ve aggregated the choices of some of Europe’s top coaching talent, and present them along with our own choices.

The AFI Coaches Poll is conducted bi-weekly throughout the European regular season using a panel of coaches from European clubs. The panel is chosen by election, country by country plus independents, from a pool of coaches who have indicated to the American Football International their willingness to participate. Each coach submits a Top 20 with a first-place vote worth 20 points, second place 19 and so on down to one point for 20th.

This week’s panel include five coaches from four nations, many of whom lead teams in our poll.

  • Stan Bedwell – HC Allgäu Comets
  • Dan Levy – HC Prague Black Panthers
  • Dave Likins – DC Braunschweig New Yorker Lions
  • Nick Johansen – HC Wroclaw Panthers
  • Geoff Buffum – HC Calanda Broncos

Because of the nature of disparate start dates of leagues throughout Europe, there are still a number of teams  in our Top 20 who have still not been in action, so we still feel that this  Top 20 is still somewhat preliminary.

We continually work to improve and always welcome your comments and insight.

If you are interested in being a part of the AFI Coaches Poll in 2018 please email [email protected].

Now, for the rankings!

 

1. Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (0-0 GFL1) – Germany (Last poll #1)

The 2018 poll begins as the 2017 ended, with the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns atop Europe. The Unicorns finally pulled off the upset and knocked off the defending champion Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in German Bowl XXXIX and finished the season undefeated with a 17-0 record. Until they are unseated, the Haller fans will can claim #1.

Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns captured German Bowl XXXIX

2. Braunschweig New Yorker Lions (0-0 GFL1) – Germany (Last poll #2)

At #2, the defending Eurobowl champion Braunschweig New Yorker Lions  opened the season with a tight 10-6 win over the La Courneuve Flash from France in the Big6. The Lions were undone in the 2017 German championship game losing to the #1 ranked by a last second blocked field goal. The Lions play their next game against the Amsterdam Crusaders on April 28 in 2018 Eurobowl action.

3. AFC Dacia Vienna Vikings (4-0 AFL1) – Austria (Last poll #3)

In 2017, the #3 Vienna Vikings from Austria enjoyed a resurgent year and finished back on top of the Austrian league, winning the Austrian title with a decisive victory over the Swarco Raiders. The Vikings have begun 2018 where they left of topping the Traun Steel Sharks 64-18 and Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants 45-32, Danube Dragons, 42-7 and Ljubljana Silverhawks, 63-33. This week the Vikings meet their top rivals, the Swarco Raiders.

Vienna Vikings win Austrian Bowl

4. Swarco Raiders (3-0 AFL1; 1-0 CEFL) – Austria (Last poll #4)

The Swarco Raiders have looked impressive early in the Austrian season reeling off four straight wins and then dominating the Prague Black Panthers in CEFL play, 44-21. They have had dicisive wins in Austria over the Bratislava MonarchsAFC Mödling Rangers and Graz Giants. Next up is a clash with arch rivals the Dacia Vienna Vikings April 22.

Swarco QB Sean Shelton Photo: LIBOR VOČADLO

5. Helsinki Roosters (0-0 SAJL) – Finland (Last poll #5)

In 2017, Finland’s Helsinki Roosters marched through Finland’s Maple League with an 11-1 record and dismantled all opposition in the playoffs to win the Finnish title. They sit solidly in the #5 spot. They also defeated Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders to win the Northern European Football League (NEFL) title. They re-signed a one of a kind leader in quarterback Brandon Connette, and have been preparing for 2018 with practice matches of Sweden’s Stockholm Mean Machines (a 47-19 victory). AFI expects the Roosters to dominate 2018 in Finland’s SAJL and possibly beyond.

Helsinki Roosters won Maple Bowl XXXVIII

6. Wroclaw Panther (3-0 LFA) – Poland (Last poll #6)

The coaches in our poll continue to see great things coming out of Poland! The #6 spot goes to Poland’s Wroclaw Panthers who have won three straight in Poland’s LFA including a decisive win over the Gdynia Swahawks. They won the 2017 Polish championship in dominant fashion. They surprised the powerful Swarco Raiders in Central European Football League last year, forcing the Raiders to come from behind to win the game. The Panthers were undefeated in Poland and soundly beat Denmark’s Triangle Razorbacks in CEFL action. They are the back-to-back Polish champions under head coach Nick Johansen and have started 2-0 in Poland. Watch them meet Poland other top team, the Gydnia Seahawks on Sunday April 8.

7. Frankfurt Universe (0-0 GFL1 1-0 Big6) – Germany (Last poll #9)

Although the Frankfurt Universe financial controversy still remains unclear the team traveled to Amsterdam and dominated the Crusaders in Big6 play. With all the coaches and players signed and on-field success so far, it would seem Frankfurt will weather the storm. Our panel has moved them up to #7.

Frankfurt DB Kweishi Brown returned this interception for a TD Photo: Sandra Ruhe

8. Carlstad Crusaders (2-0 SAFF) – Sweden (Last poll #7)

Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders have won their first two games in Sweden but were it not for the Orebro Black Knights quarterback suffering a late game injury, they may not have escaped with a win. Nevertheless, they stay in the top 8 teams following their dominant march to their 8th Swedish title. They suffered an  overtime loss to the visiting Helsinki Roosters in the Northern European Football League (NEFL) championship game last season but rebounded to capture the Swedish championship.

9. Dresden Monarchs (0-0 GFL1) – Germany (Last poll #7)

The Dresden Monarchs finished 2017 as the #10 team in Europe after losing two of their last two games including the quarterfinal game to the Frankfurt Universe. However, our panel sees potential in the Monarchs and have them at #8. Dresden is consistently competitive and maintain a strong German cast that keep them in the mix year after year.

10. Milano Seamen (4-0 IFL; 1-0 EFL) – Italy (Last poll #10)

Italy’s defending champion Milano Seamen has impressed our panel. The Seamen have opened the season in Italy with four straight wins and defeated the Badalona Dracs in EFL play. They hold onto their #10 spot early in the 2018 season.

Italy’s Milano Seamen win Italian Bowl

11. Berlin Rebels (0-0) GFL1) – Germany (Last poll, #12)

The Berlin Rebels begin the year at #12. In 2017, they lost in the German quarterfinals to eventual champions the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns but pushed the Unicorns to overtime. The club has signed a number of international stars including Lauri Vanio (Finland), Mamadou Sy (France), and Chris Smith (Netherlands) and will complete with the top GFL Nord clubs.

12. Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (0-0 GFL1) – Germany (Last poll, #11)

The Kiel Baltic Hurricanes have slid down to #11 after losing their final two regular season games and then losing to Schwäbisch Hall 33-11 in the German semifinal. In 2018, the Baltic Hurricanes are celebrating their 30th anniversary. They’ve have signed former Pittsburgh Steeler and West Virginia Mountaineer wide receiver JD WoodsKiel opens their GFL campaign against the Cologne Crocodiles on April 21.

Photo: Sergio Brunetti

13. Calanda Broncos (2-0 SAFV) – Switzerland (Last poll, #15)

The Calanda Broncos have moved up as they continue their  impressive play in the Swiss league where they have rolled out to a 4-0 start. They won the league in 2017 after recording a lopsided win in the championship game over the Basel Gladiators. Our panel recognizes four big SAFV early season wins. Outside of the Swiss league the Broncos are competing in the EFL tournament.

14. Marburg Mercenaries (0-0 GFL1) – Germany (Last poll, #13)

Our #14 team is the Marburg Mercenaries who reached the German quarterfinals where they lost to the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes. Marburg finished the year in the German Football League South with an 8-7 record marking the biggest improvement of any team in the league. For 2017, the Mercenaries signed Austria’s top domestic quarterback, Alexander Thury and dangerous receiver Peter Jinkens.

15. Parma Panthers (3-0 IFL) – Italy (Last poll, #19)

Parma has made a big jump in the eyes of our coaches. The Panthers were unranked at the end of 2017, but their strong start in the IFL has our panel seeing stars. The Panthers dominated the Pesaro UTA (48-7), Torino Giaguari (49-6), and Bolzano Giants(36-0). Parma will be tested in a few weeks when the face the Milano Seamen and Firenze Guelfi.

16. Badalona Dracs (6-0 LNFA; 1-1 EFL) – Spain (Last poll, unranked)

The Dracs have leapt onto the list after a stunning 37-20 victory over France’s leading team, the Thonon Black Panthers in EFL action last weekend. They are undefeated in Spain’s LNFA league but  it was their convincing win against Thonon has the panel of coaches buzzing.

17. La Courneuve Flash (4-2 FFFA; 0-1 Big6) – France (Last poll, unranked)

Another newcomer to the rankings this week is the Flash from La Courneuve. Although they dropped a close 10-6 decision to the powerful Braunschweig New Yorker Lions, they impressed our panel enough that their 4-2 record in the French league was ignored.

18. Koc Rams (4-1 TFL; 1-0 CEFL) – Turkey (Last poll, unranked)

A third new entry to the Top 20 this week is Turkey’s defending champion, the Koc Rams. The Rams outlasted Serbian champions, the Kragujevac Wild Boars last week in CEFL action, beating them 47-41 in a shootout and earning them a spot in our ranking according to our coaches panel.

Koc Rams QB David Whipple

19. Prague Black Panthers (1-0 CAAF; 0-1 CEFL) – Czech Republic (Last poll #17)

Prague dropped a 44-21 decision to Austria’s Swarco Raiders last week dropping them a couple of spots in the standings. The defending Czech champions opened the regular season in the Czech Republic with a convincing 38-0 win over the Prague Lions.

 

Copenhagen Towers RB Dayton Winn

20. Copenhagen Towers (0-0 DAFF; 1-0 NEFL) – Denmark (Last poll #20)

Denmark’s Copenhagen Towers traveled to Oslo, Norway in the Northern European Football League last week and defeated the Oslo Vikings  21-10. The Towers were in control the entire game though. They have opened the Danish regular season with a lopsided 40-0 win over the Frederikssund Oaks. In 2017, the Towers won the Danish crown by dominating  the Sollerod Gold Diggers in Mermaid Bowl XXIX.

 

AFI
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