AaB 89ers beginning to look like contenders in Denmark

The AaB 89ers are on a roll.

They may have won only two of their four games so far in Denmark’s Nationalligaen but they won them back to back. And convincingly.

Two weeks ago, they atoned for an earlier lopsided loss to the Søllerød Gold Diggers when they trounced the previously undefeated home team 33-6.

It was the first game in the Danish league since late June and marked the start of the final stretch of the 2021 regular season.

It was definitely a heck of a start to the second half of the season for the 89ers.

Although the Gold Diggers entered the game as favorites after winning all three of their games before the break, it was AaB who took the initiative early as quarterback Shelton Eppler connected with Magnus Urth for a 56-yard touchdown on the 89ers second possession to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.

And the game continued in the same way, with AaB putting on a dominating performance. Running back Andreas Brandsen caught three touchdown passes out of the backfield and receiver Jeppe Petersen caught one as well. The 89ers almost doubled Søllerød’s offensive output racking up 307 yards in offense compared to 106.

AaB 89ers QB Shelton Eppler has thrown for 1,071 yards and 12 TDs Photo: Mikkel Bo Rasmussen / 1st Down Photo

What gives?

The 89ers had dropped their first two games of the shortened season badly and at that point looked out of the running. But suddenly, in game three against the Triangle Razorbacks, the 89ers underwent a transformation whipping them 35-14. That trend continued in this last game.

In a league with only four teams, the former basement dwellers now look like contenders. With two games to go, they could wind up in first place playing their semifinal game at home.

Remember, this is a team that has had one winning season (2011) since entering the top league in 2010. They have had a few .500 seasons but mostly below .500. With two games to go, they have a chance to change that trend.

It would seem that the other three teams now have reason for concern.

89ers head coach Austin Jones offers an explanation for the turnaround:

“We are definitely playing better than we did to open the season. To start, we got Andreas Brandsen back. He’s our running back and obviously a big key to the offense. Whether running with the ball or catching passes out of the backfield, he is a different maker. And big 6’5″, 300-pound defensive tackle Demage Bailey joined the team. He is tough to block even with two players on him which frees up other defenders.”

The performance of both players was critical and it showed. Although Brandsen’s rushing numbers were not spectacular in the win over the Gold Diggers, he caught three touchdown passes, giving him four in the two games he has played. Add to that the fact that Eppler also has the league’s leading receiver, Magnus Urth to target, and it’s starting to become obvious that Aalborg is a team to be reckoned with.

“When we beat the Razorbacks after losing our first two games of the season badly, the mood of the team changed. We started to believe we could beat anybody. And now we have the Towers. We need to defeat them to get a home playoff game. Can we do it? The feeling we have is that we definitely have a shot.”

With only two games remaining for each team, the AaB 89ers have definitely changed the landscape of football in Denmark. This weekend’s tilt against the powerhouse Copenhagen Towers will be a pretty good indicator of just how much it has changed.

Watch the AaB 89ers take on the Copenhagen Towers live on AFI.tv. Game time, Saturday, August 28, at 14:00 CET (2 pm, 08:00 am ET).

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