AFI’s Europe Top 20: 2018 Coaches Poll – May 18

There have been some major shifts in the fourth edition of our Top 20 of 2018 with a new number four and more steep drops.

AFI is proud to have the input of some of the best coaches in Europe. Our  panel has grown to nine with the addition of Malik Jackson, head coach of Serbia’s Vukovi Belgrade and honorary panelist Johannes “Joop” Woudenberg from Holland. We’ve aggregated the choices of these top European coaches and executives and present them along with our own choices.

The AFI Coaches Poll is conducted bi-weekly throughout the European regular season using a panel of coaches from European clubs. The panel is chosen by election, country by country plus independents, from a pool of coaches who have indicated to the American Football International their willingness to participate. Each coach submits a Top 20 with a first-place vote worth 20 points, second place 19 and so on down to one point for 20th.

This week’s panel includes eight coaches from seven nations, many of whom lead teams in our poll and special football ambassador, Johannes Woudenberg:

  • Stan Bedwell – HC Allgäu Comets (Germany)
  • Dan Levy – HC Prague Black Panthers (Czech Republic)
  • Dave Likins – DC Braunschweig New Yorker Lions (Germany)
  • Nick Johansen – HC Wroclaw Panthers (Poland)
  • Geoff Buffum – HC Calanda Broncos (Switzerland)
  • Shuan Fatah – HC Swarco Raiders (Austria)
  • Malik Jackson – HC Vukovi Belgrade (Serbia)
  • Juha Hakala- HC Helsinki Roosters (Finland)
  • Johannes Woudenberg – Ambassador at large (Holland)

Because of the nature of disparate start dates of leagues throughout Europe, there are still a number of teams  in our Top 20 who have still not been in action, so we still feel that this  Top 20 is still somewhat preliminary.

We continually work to improve and always welcome your comments and insight.

If you are interested in being a part of the AFI Coaches Poll in 2018 please email [email protected].

Now, for the rankings!

1. Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (3-0 GFL1) – Germany (Last poll #1)

The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns  continue to assert their dominance and justify their number one ranking in Europe. After whipping the Munich Cowboys in the opening game of the season the Unicorns have  trounced the Allgäu Comets and the Stuttgart Scorpions. As one rival coach put it after watching a game. “This is the best team I have seen this year. Period.” The Unicorns started the year in top spot after last year’s German championship win over the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in German Bowl XXXIX. They finished the season undefeated with a 17-0 record. Until they are unseated, the Haller fans will continue to claim #1.

Next up: Kirchdorf Wildcats, May 19

Photo: Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns

2. Braunschweig New Yorker Lions (3-0 GFL1; 2-0 Big6) – Germany (Last poll #2)

Still at #2, the defending Eurobowl champion Braunschweig New Yorker Lions have earned two lopsided victories in the German Football League, beating both the Hamburg Huskies and Kiel Baltic Hurricanes. The Lions opened the season with a tight 10-6 win over the La Courneuve Flash from France in the Big6. They followed that up with a 60-0 trouncing of the Amsterdam Crusaders to qualify for the Eurobowl final.  The perennial challengers for both the number one spot in Europe and the German title were undone in the 2017 German championship game losing to the #1 ranked by a last second blocked field goal. 

Next up: Hildesheim Invaders, May 19.

Photo> Fabian Uebe

3. Helsinki Roosters (1-0 SAJL;1-0 international) – Finland (Last poll #3)

The Roosters maintain their lofty ranking after a one-sided victory over their Maple Bowl opponents, the Wasa Royals, beating them 48-7. They had surprised everyone by beating the Dacia Vienna Vikings in Vienna two weeks ago, 41-37.  The shocker of a win under new/old head coach Juha Hakala put Finnish football back on the map. Last season, they defeated Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders to win the Northern European Football League (NEFL) title. AFI expects the Roosters to dominate 2018 in Finland’s SAJL and possibly beyond.

Next up: Porvoo Butchers, May 28.

Photo: Helsinki Roosters

 4. Swarco Raiders (5-1 AFL1; 2-0 CEFL) – Austria (Last poll #5)

The Swarco Raiders  have climbed one spot after crushing the Dacia Vienna Vikings last weekend. With the win over their arch rivals in Austria, the Raiders look to regain the top spot in the Austrian Football League. Swarco had demolished the Wroclaw Panthers from Poland, previously Europe’s #6 team and have looked impressive early in the Austrian season.

Next up: Modling Rangers, May 28.

Photo: Goran Milosavljevic Fotografie

5. Frankfurt Universe (2-0 GFL1 2-0 Big6) – Germany (Last poll #6)

The Frankfurt Universe continue to climb up our rankings after overwhelming the Marburg Mercenaries 63-7. They had started the GFL regular season by blanking the Munich Cowboys. Then they whipped France’s La Courneuve Flash 48-6 in the Big6 thus qualifying for the Eurobowl final for the second year in a row.  With financial uncertainty swirling around the club, Frankfurt continues to forge ahead. With all the coaches and players signed and on-field success so far, it would seem Frankfurt will weather the storm. Our panel has moved them up to #5.

Next up: Ingolstadt Dukes, May 19.


6. AFC Dacia Vienna Vikings (5-1 AFL1; 0-1 international) – Austria (Last poll #4)

The Vikings lost badly last weekend to their arch rivals in Austria, the Swarco Raiders. Although they defeated the Modling Rangers 25-20 the week prior, Vienna was shocked by Finland’s Helsinki Roosters two weeks ago at home in Charity Bowl XX., losing 41-37. Our coaches panel has dropped them another two spots to sixth. Prior to that the Vikings had jumped out to a 5-0 record in the Austrian Football League including a 35-28 win over the Swarco Raiders. In 2017, the Vikings enjoyed a resurgent year and finished back on top of the Austrian league, winning the Austrian title with a decisive victory over the Swarco Raiders. Next up:

Ljubljana Silverhawks, May 27.

7. Milano Seamen (7-0 IFL; 2-0 EFL) – Italy (Last poll #9)

Italy’s defending champion Milano Seamen continue to impress our panel. They remain unbeaten in Italy and last week Milano unleashed on the top team in France, the Thonon Black Panthers in EFL play, whipping them 49-3The Seamen defeated the only other unbeaten team in Italy last week, the Parma Panthers in decisive fashion and have opened the season in Italy with six straight wins and defeated the Badalona Dracs in EFL play. They move up two more pspots to the #7 position.

Next up: Lazio Ducks, May 20.

Milano WR Stefano Di Tunisi Photo: Dario Fumagalli

 8. Carlstad Crusaders (5-0 SAFF; 2-0 NEFL) – Sweden (Last poll #7)

Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders comfortably handled British champions, the Tamworth Phoenix in NEFL action last week. The Crusaders remain undefeated in Sweden and inn Europe. Three weeks ago Carlstad manhandled the Norwegian champion Oslo Vikings. They stay in the top 8 teams following their dominant march to their 8th Swedish title.

Next up: Stockholm Mean Machines, May 18.

Carlstad WR Jacob Dahre Photo: Mike Ashton

9. Dresden Monarchs (2-0 GFL1) – Germany (Last poll #8)

The Dresden Monarchs opened their 2018 season by earning back-to-back wins over the previously undefeated Potsdam Royals 4. A perennial contender for the playoffs in Germany,the Monarchs finished 2017 as the #10 team in Europe after losing two of their last two games including the quarterfinal game to the Frankfurt Universe. However, our panel sees potential in the Monarchs and have them at #8. Dresden is consistently competitive and maintain a strong German cast that keep them in the mix year after year.

Next up: Hamburg Huskies, May 19.

10. Wroclaw Panthers (5-0 LFA; 1-1 CEFL)) – Poland (Last poll #12)

The Panthers have climbed two spots and they rebounded in the CEFL downing the Prague Black Panthers 39-22.  Although the game was for pride along, it helped atone for the lopsided 63-21 loss to Austria’s Swarco Raiders the week before. The result of that loss was the biggest drop in rankings thus far two weeks ago. Nevertheless the Panthers have now won five straight games in Poland’s LFA including a decisive win over the Gdynia Swahawks. They won the 2017 Polish championship in dominant fashion. They surprised the Raiders in Central European Football League last year, forcing the Raiders to come from behind to win the game. The Panthers were undefeated in Poland and soundly beat Denmark’s Triangle Razorbacks in CEFL action.

Next up: Gdynia Seahawks, May 20.



11. Berlin Rebels (2-0 GFL1) – Germany (Last poll, #10)

The Berlin Rebels have won their first two games in the GFL season by beating the Hamburg Huskies 24-0 and then the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes, 17-6.. Under head coach Kim Kuchi the Rebels look poised to reach the playoffs again in 2018. In 2017, they lost in the German quarterfinals to eventual champions the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns but pushed the Unicorns to overtime. The club has signed a number of international stars including Lauri Vanio (Finland), Mamadou Sy (France), and Chris Smith (Netherlands) and will complete with the top GFL North clubs.

Next up: Potsdam Royals, May 19.

12. Calanda Broncos (7-0 SAFV; 1-0 EFL) – Switzerland (Last poll, #11)

The Calanda Broncos have won back-to-back one-sided victories beating the Basel Gladiators 51-0 in Swiss league action and the Lucern Lions 42-21. They have rolled out to a 7-0 start in Switzerland.  Three weeks ago, they crushed Belgium’s Brussels Tigers 39-0 in European Football League play. They won the Swiss league in 2017 after recording a lopsided win in the championship game over the Basel Gladiators. Our panel recognizes four big SAFVearly season wins. Outside of the Swiss league the Broncos are competing in the EFL tournament.

Next up: Potsdam Royals, May 27.

Calanda RB Adrien Photo: Sergio Brunetti

13. Cologne Crocodiles (2-0 GFL1) – Germany (Last poll, #14)

The Crocodiles continue to move up our rankings according to our coaches after winning their two opening games in the German Football League, beating the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes 32-14 and Potsdam Royals 42-41. They also trounced Holland’s Amsterdam Crusaders in an exhibition game. The Crocodiles finished just our of the playoffs in 2017 and are looking for a big improvement this year.

Next up: Kiel Baltic Hurricanes, May 19.

14. Copenhagen Towers (2-0 DAFF; 2-0 NEFL) – Denmark (Last poll #16)

Denmark’s Copenhagen Towers have moved up another two spots since our last ranking after whipping the Tamworth Phoenix 50-7  in NEFL play and winning two straight in Denmark. The Towers also traveled to Oslo, Norway in the Northern European Football League a month ago and defeated the Oslo Vikings  21-10. In 2017, the Towers won the Danish crown by dominating  the Sollerod Gold Diggers in Mermaid Bowl XXIX. 

Next up: Sollerod Gold Diggers, May 27.

PHOTO: Fabian Noah Rasmussen / 1st Down Photo (

 15. Badalona Dracs (7-0 LNFA; 1-1 EFL) – Spain (Last poll, #15)

The Dracs remain our #15 team after easily winning their quarterfinal game in Spain 78-12 against the Gijon Mariners. They are 1-1 in EFL play after they recorded a stunning 37-20 victory over France’s leading team, the Thonon Black Panthers in EFL action a month ago.

Next up: Osos Rivas, Spanish semifinals, May 20.

 16. Koc Rams (5-1 TFL; 2-0 CEFL) – Turkey (Last poll, #20)

Turkey’s defending champion, the Koc Rams have jumped up four spots in the last two weeks after beating the ITU Hornets in Turkish league play and then overwhelming the Moscow Patriots 63-21 in the CEFL. Previously, the Rams  had outlasted Serbian champions, the Kragujevac Wild Boars  in CEFL action, beating them 47-41 in a shootout. They have now moved on to the CEFL final against the Swarco Raiders. Next up: ODTÜ Falcons, May 20.


17. Parma Panthers (6-1 IFL) – Italy (Last poll, unranked)

Parma has returned to our Top 20 after two straight convincing wins in Italy . The Panthers were unranked at the end of 2017, but their strong start in the IFL has our panel seeing stars. The Panthers defeated both Firenze Guelfi and the lazio Ducks and have lost only one game all season, to the #7 ranked.

Milano Seamen. Next up: Bergamo Lions, May 20.

18. Prague Black Panthers (3-0 CAAF; 0-2 CEFL) – Czech Republic (Last poll #19)

Despite dropping a 39-22 decision to Poland’s Wroclaw Panthers, Prague has inched up a spot according to our coaches. The Black Panthers blanked the Pardubice Stallions 50-0 in the Czech league the week before. They have won four straight in league play with an overwhelming 189-6 points difference. Prague dropped a 44-21 decision to Austria’s Swarco Raiders last month in CEFL play.

Next up: Brno Alligators, May 20.

Photo: Aleksandra Twardowska –

19. Marburg Mercenaries (1-1 GFL1) – Germany (Last poll, #13)

The Marburg Mercenaries have suffered a big slide in the rankings dropping six spots from #13 after being crushed by the Frankfurt Universe 63-7 this past weekend. Marburg had opened their season by  whipping the Kirchdorf Wildcats 33-7 in German Football League play. Marburg reached the German quarterfinals where they lost to the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes. Marburg finished the year in the German Football League South with an 8-7 record marking the biggest improvement of any team in the league. For 2017, the Mercenaries signed Austria’s top domestic quarterback, Alexander Thury and dangerous receiver Peter Jinkens.

Next up: Munich Cowboys, May 20.

20. Potsdam Royals (1-3 GFL1) – Germany (Last poll, #17)

The Royals cling to the #20 spot in the AFI Top 20 despite three straight losses. They opened their season with a 56-0 blowout win over the Hildesheim Invaders but then fell to the Dresden Monarchs 45-34.  They then dropped another one to Dresden before losing a tight game to the Cologne Crocodiles 42-41. Potsdam is playing in the German Football League for the first time in its history this season.Next up:

Berlin Rebels, May 20.

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