Germany: Stuttgart Scorpions continue to aim for GFL South title
A preview on the 2017 German Football League season for the Stuttgart Scorpions
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 1998 four years ago, the Stuttgart Scorpions have started a rebuilding phase with the goal of being one of the GFL South powerhouses again and, under the leadership of new head coach Jemil Hamiko, winning the division within three years.
After promising campaigns in 2014 and 2015, Hamiko resigned during the 2016 season due to ongoing lackluster play of his team. His replacement, former assistant coach Timo Klinkmüller, tried but ultimately failed to reach a playoff berth. Also winning against contenders, the overall performance was not enough to merit a playoff spot.
The Scorpions did not wait long to improve and initiate necessary changes: Fabian Birkholz from the Biberach Beavers was hired as the new offensive coordinator, and with that he brought a new consistent concept used for every team within the organization. His new defensive counterpart was found in Kevin Selje from the Holzgerlingen Twister. After not finding a suiting person to fill in as head coach, Birkholz was promoted to head coaching duties in November of 2016.
Birkholz and Selje now work with a new coaching staff, consisting of Lasse Ahlgrimm (wide receivers), Jasson Scott (defensive backs), Daniel Urban (running backs and special teams), David Pagano (linebackers), Jermaine Guynn (defensive line) and Corey Chapman (athletic director).
In the mean time there have been front office changes as well: Chairman Markus Würtele handed down all sports related matters to his deputy Erwin Schmidt, and now handles administrative and organizational tasks. Examples include building a new artificial grass field and changes in regards to ticketing.
Although there have been a lot of departures among the players including starting quarterback Shane Carden, a lot of new talented athletes were signed to fill the void. Among them is quarterback Conner Sullivan from the University of South California. Defensively, the Scorpions signed two Americans in defensive back Ronnie Hicks from the Grenoble Centaures and linebacker Christian Holmes from the Tamworth Phoenix. Besides those imports, a plethora of new German players from around the country have strengthened the Scorpions’ roster.
Despite having a lot of new hope for this year’s season, the Scorpions are still not sure about where they stand and what to expect. There is a quiet confidence of competing for a playoff spot, thus competing with the Allgäu Comets and Saarland Hurricanes for third and fourth place.
On April 22, Stuttgart will open the 2017 GFL1 season at home against heavy weight Frankfurt Universe in front of an expected crowd of about 2,000 people.
Despite all these uncertainties and changes this year, one thing is certain for head coach Birkholz: His team is eager to start the season, and the coaching staff has formed a competitive roster, that will also try to further boost the recent football boom that spread over the whole country.
Stuttgart Scorpions full roster.