2021: The year of the European quarterback?

Despite the growth of American football in Europe the quarterback position remains dominated by American imports year in and year out. In the continent’s highest leagues, it’s relatively uncommon to see a domestic passer lead his team from under center, as coaches can be hesitant to hand the reins to a player without NCAA experience.

A few standout European passers in recent history have been Marco Ehrenfried, Miro Kadmiry, Christoph Gross, and Sergi Gonzalo. Gonzalo has dominated in his home country of Spain helping build a dynasty in Badalona. Up north, Helsinki Roosters quarterback, Miro Kadmiry led his team to the championship while throwing for over 50 touchdowns in 2019. In Austria, Christoph Gross won four titles with the Vienna Vikings in a impressive hall of fame career. Yet, possibly the best homegrown quarterback of all comes out of Schwäbisch Hall, as Germany’s Marco Ehrenfried led the Unicorns to back-to-back undefeated titles in 2017 & 2018 before retiring.  In 90 games he threw for 22,352 yards and 267 touchdowns with only 57 interceptions. He averaged  248 passing yards and three touchdown passes and 0.6 interceptions per game. Ehrenfried has won a remarkable 82 of those 90 games.

However, this year, homegrown passers have had strong impacts on many top teams in Europe. Undoubtedly leaving their mark on various leagues. A European quarterback led his team to the championship game in the German Football League, Danish Nationalligaen, Spanish LNFA, and Finland’s Maple League. 

Let’s take a look at how these European signal-callers did this season in some of the European continent’s top leagues.

Alex Haupert in the CEFL championship: Photo Sarah Philipp

German Football League

Alexander Haupert (Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns): The German National team quarterback ended the season throwing for 1,578 yards and 17 touchdowns. Haupert battled injuries all season but was able to help guide the Unicorns to a German Bowl. Unfortunately, injuries again prevented him from playing and Schwäbisch Hall fell just short of the championship.

Sonny Weishaupt (Marburg Mercenaries): Weishaupt has been one of Germany’s best homegrown signal-callers in the past few years. The veteran is no stranger to being under center as he crossed the 10,000 career passing yards mark this past season. However, Weishaupt and Mercenaries had a disappointing 4-6 season as injuries played a big part in their losing record. All in all, Weishaupt put up solid numbers throwing for 1,797 yards, 14 touchdowns, and six interceptions.

Alexander Kronberg-Bjerre (Ravensburg Razorbacks): The Danish passer split time with starter Ryan Deal as the Ravensburg Razorbacks played both quarterbacks often. Despite playing much less than his American counterpart, the Dane made the most of his limited chances throwing for 923 yards, 10 touchdowns, and only two interceptions. The former AaB 89er ranked second in passing efficiency with an excellent completion percentage and touchdown to interception ratio.

Centurions quarterback Jan Weinreich: Photo Sara Phillip

European League of Football

Jan Weinreich (Cologne Centurions): Weinreich took over for American quarterback Danny Farley early in the season and didn’t look back. The German threw for 1,809 yards, 16 touchdowns, and only six interceptions.  Cologne’s quarterback managed the season well, limiting turnovers on his way to a playoff bid and All-Star nomination.

Calvin Stitt (Berlin Thunder): Overall, the Thunder failed to make much noise in the new league finishing the season with a 3-7 record. Their inconsistent offense ranked second to last in scoring. The young British passer, however, was able to make some highlight-worthy plays using his athleticism and big arm throw for 1,225 yards, 15 touchdowns, to go along with seven interceptions.

Austrian Football League

Nico Hrouda (Vienna Vikings): Hrouda is a young European prospect to keep an eye on. The teenager played in certain spots for the Vikings as head coach Chris Calaycay clearly put an emphasis on developing what could be Vienna’s next starting passer. Overall, he threw for 481 yards, six touchdowns, and only one interception in limited snaps in the AFL. Hrouda also played well in the CEFL and in Austria’s first division.

Benjamin Bäuer (Mödling Rangers): The young Austrian stepped and helped the Rangers stay competitive in a talented AFL. The Vienna native, threw for 1,047 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions while adding 235 yards on the ground.

Helsinki Roosters quarterback Miro Kadmiry Photo: Jari Turunen

Finland’s Maple League

Miro Kadmiry (Helsinki Roosters): Kadmiry threw for 1,683 yards, a league-leading 21 touchdowns, along with six interceptions. The 2019 Maple League MVP led the Roosters all the way to the championship game before losing a nail bitter to the Kuopio Steelers. The national team quarterback was once again the only homegrown passer in the Maple League. Kadmiry also led the Finnish National team to a recent bronze medal.

Sergi Gonzalo: Photo Badalona Dracs

Spain LNFA

Sergi Gonzalo (Badalona Dracs): Another year in Spain and another championship for Gonzalo and the Dracs. The 32-year old Spanish passer took over for American quarterback Cory Benedetto mid-way through the season and racked up 15 total touchdowns. Despite his age, Gonzalo used his legs to score the game-winning touchdown in the title game, earning his sixth championship.

Henri Väänänen (Fuengirola Potros): The Finnish quarterback joined a young Potros team looking to develop local talent and help them stay in Spain’s top league. The former Helsinki Rooster helped the Potros achieve just that. Väänänen’s leadership and athleticism helped the Potros win two games even as he battled injuries all season.

Danish Nationalligaen

Andreas Sølling: ( Søllerød Gold Diggers): The 20-year-old quarterback took over halfway through the season in Denmark and turned the Gold Diggers offense around. Highlighted by a five-touchdown performance on the back end of the regular season, Sølling was able to lead the Gold Diggers to the Mermaid Bowl. The Danish gunslinger hopes to return to the US next year where he has put his college career on hold.

Italy’s FIDAF 1st Divisione

Andrea Fimiani (Guelfi Firenze): In a league filled with Italian-American passers Fimiani stood out as the lone domestic signal-callers. The former Bergamo Lion led the Guelfi to the post-season throwing for 1,368 yards, 18 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. The long-haired Italian also added a dual-threat element, rushing for 390 yards and three touchdowns leading all quarterbacks in rushing.

Polish Football League

Filip Moscicki (Krakow Kings): The former national team quarterback led the Kings back to playoffs after the team opted out in 2020. Moscicki, a long-time veteran of Polish football has suited up for many teams across the country. This year the homegrown signal-caller threw for 11 touchdowns which was good for third in the league.

The success of these quarterbacks this past season could open the door for future Europeans to take over under center in 2022. Expect many of these names to be back with their teams looking to top their success full 2021 seasons. The advantage of a home-grown passer can go far as the field opens up for American skill players. At the same time, having a leader year-round can help build a program’s culture.

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football