LIVE STREAM: German Semifinals – Kiel Baltic Hurricanes @ Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns Sat., Sept. 23 5p CEST (11a EDT)

The undefeated Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns will take on the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (11-4) in the German Football League semifinals Saturday, September 23 at Optima Sportpark in Schwäbisch Hall.

The last time these two met was in the 2012 German Bowl when the Unicorns captured the title with a thrilling 56-53 victory over Kiel. The last time they played each other in the semifinals was 2009 when Kiel pulled out a last second 22-21 victory. Overall, the Unicorns have played Kiel six times and won three.

The Hurricanes had their hands full in beating the Marburg Mercenaries last week. Trailing 14-7 at the half, Kiel scored three unanswered touchdowns for the win. Meanwhile, Schwäbisch Hall had to score an overtime touchdown to defeat the Berlin Rebels 31-24 in their quarterfinal.

Statistically, not much separates the two. Schwäbisch Hall scored an average of 39.5 points a game while the Hurricanes averaged 37.3. The Unicorns gave up 18.2 points per game while Kiel’s defense allowed 22.5 The Hurricanes boast the best running game in Germany averaging 214.8 yards a game while  Schwäbisch Hall gives up only 65.5 yards rushing a game, 2nd best in the country.

The difference could come in the air.  Behind the arm of Marco Ehrenfried, the Unicorns are second in the league in passing yardage per game with 276.8 yards while Kiel has the 9th ranked pass defense in Germany, allowing 210.5 yards a game.

Key position comparisons

Quarterbacks

Schwäbisch Hall QB Marco Ehrenfried led the GFL in passing with 4,053 yards and 49 TDs. Jared Stegman from Australia was not called upon as much with the heavy emphasis on the running game by Kiel, but still finished 5th overall with 2,886 yards passing and 46 TDs. Both QBs were careful with the ball, Ehrenfried threw 13 interceptions while Stegman had 11. However, the Kiel defense will always know where to find Ehrenfried as he rushed for a total of -17 yards. Stegman on the other hand is highly mobile rushing for 392 yards on the year.

Running backs

There is no question that the Hurricanes rely on the ground game with RB Chris McClendon having a superb year running the ball. He led the league from wire to wire rushing for 2,234 yards and 21 TDs. He could dominate games. Against the Berlin Rebels late in the season he rushed for 352 yards in a Kiel win. Danny Washington is a veteran of football in Europe and on the pass-heavy Unicorns he only averages 8.5 carries a game as compared to McClendon who averages 21 carries a game.

Receivers

The Unicorns receiving duo of Tyler Rutenbeck and Nate Robitaille make it tough for opposing secondaries. Robitaille’s 25 TDs (including 3 rushing) led all receivers in Germany and his 1,238 yards placed him third. Xavier Mitchell is a key to the Hurricanes offense. Not only did he finish first in receiving with 1,303 yards but he also rushed for 359 yards, third best on the team and he is a dangerous receiver.

Linebackers

Schwäbisch Hall linebacker Nikolas Knoblauch led his team in tackles during the season with 81 and had six in the quarterfinal win over the Berlin Rebels. Thiadric Hansen of the Hurricanes had 52 tackles on the year to go along with five tackles for loss and a sack.

Ehrenfried will need to keep an eye out for Kiel defensive back Xazier Murry who scored a big TD against the Marburg Mercenaries in the quarterfinal game last week on a 98 yard fumble recovery.

This is Unicorns head coach Jordan Neuman’s first semifinal appearance but he has shown no signs of inexperience all year. Kiel head coach Marcus Herford has advanced his team to the semifinal round for the second year in a row. This in itself is an intriguing head coaching matchup.

Watch the game live here.

Kiel Baltic Hurricanes @Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns Sat., Sept. 23 5p CEST (11a EDT)

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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