AaB 89ers could surprise as Denmark’s National League set to open

The AaB 89ers could be a dark horse as Denmark’s National League gets ready to start a “post coronavirus lockdown” season this weekend.

This will be the second league in the world to play a season of football since the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe.

The National League will kick off the season with five teams who have all been practicing in pads for the past three weeks. The Danish top division will play a truncated season with each team playing only one game against each opponent starting August 8 with the regular season winding up September 12.

Along withe the 89ers, the Copenhagen Towers, Triangle Razorbacks, Aarhus Tigers and Søllerød Gold Diggers will do battle for a berth in the Mermaid Bowl.

In 2019, AaB posted a 5-5 record but had one of the most explosive and prolific offenses in the country averaging 43 points a game. The team played a couple of memorable games defeating the Triangle Razorbacks 62-58 and then losing to the Søllerød Gold Diggers 72-56. The 89ers have reached the playoffs every year since 2016, losing for the past two seasons in the semifinals to the Towers.

Returning is perhaps the best Danish quarterback in the country, Alexander Kronborg, who is also the starter for the Danish national team. In 2019, Kronborg threw for 3,619 yard and 52 touchdowns and was the architect behind the high-scoring games the team produced. Also coming back to the 89ers is running back Breon Allen who had a stellar collegiate career at East Carolina University and Snow College. His 1,189 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns helped propel the Aalborg offense in 2019. Leading a talented group of receivers for the 89ers is Mads Christiansen who had 1,177 receiving yards along with 18 touchdowns. The offensive line is anchored by Stephen Marshall.

Head coach Jakob Zinck Thellufsen:

“We want to keep our high performance on offense, and we have almost all the same pieces back, plus some new additions, so it’s going to be interesting”.

The issue the 89ers had in 2019 was their defense which gave up 354 points in 10 regular season games. Thellufsen is aware of the problem and has taken steps to rectify it.

“We need to step up on defense, so we have tried to change things around a little and hopefully can allow our playmakers up front on the D-line to make more plays”.

Anchoring the defensive line is returning veteran Jeppe Haals who had six sacks in 2019 along with 11 tackles for loss. Linebacker Edi Durakovic has recovered from an injury and will be back playing the position he excelled at as a junior. A new addition in the secondary is Florida native Rashad Greene (West Alabama, NCAA, Div. II).

With a coaching staff consisting of defensive line coach Daniel Lassen, offensive coordinator as well as quarterbacks and running backs coach Martin Møller, wide receivers coach Alberto Huerta and offensive line coach Aaron Bronstein, Thellufsen, who also serves as defensive coordinator, is confident but also aware of how important each game is.

“We need to be ready from the beginning. It’s a short season so anything can happen, and there are no redemption games to help you qualify for the playoffs”.

AaB 89ers Schedule

August 8: Aalborg 89ers @Søllerød Gold Diggers

August 22: Aarhus Tigers @Aalborg 89ers

August 30: Triangle Rzorbacks @Aalborg 89ers

Sept. 5: Aalborg 89ers @Copenhagen Towers

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