AFI’s Europe Top 20: 2019 Coaches Poll – Final

The final AFI Europe Top 20 Coaches Poll has a couple of major changes as almost everyone would expect, and for the first time ever a tie.

Our coaches panel has expanded to 13 and each one has carefully reviewed the teams and games in Europe. You may not agree with all the picks. And you may think there are a couple of surprising teams on the list. A few other teams you might have expected to be there are not. Feel free to send in your comments and there are usually plenty of them.

AFI is proud to have the input of some of the best coaches in Europe on our 15 man panel which continues to grow. We’ve aggregated the choices of these top European coaches and executives and present them along with our own choices.

The AFI Coaches Poll relied on 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.

We would like to extend a special thanks to this season’s panel which included 10 coaches from eight nations, many of whom led teams in our poll as well as special football ambassador, Johannes Woudenberg. 

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 2020 please email [email protected].

Now to the poll!

1. New Yorker Lions (17-0 – Germany (Last poll: #3)

The Lions have returned to the top after a three year absence after an impressive 10-7 win over the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in German Bowl XLI Braunschweig had disposed of the Frankfurt Universe 38-16 in the semifinals marking their return to the final for the first time in two years. Throughout the season the Lions had looked every bit as impressive as their championship years. From midseason on until the final, no team came within two touchdowns of Braunschweig as their run game, led by running back and league rushing leader, Chris McClendon and quarterback Brandon Connette, simply wore opposing defenses down.

Next up: Season over – German Champions

2. Swarco Raiders (16-0 – AFL: 12-0 CEFL: 4-0 Int.) – Austria (Last poll: #2)

The defending Austrian champs looked more impressive than ever in running their record to 16-0 overall (4-0 in CEFL play),and winning the Austrian Bowl beating the Dacia Vienna Vikings 42-34. They ran through the AFL without a loss and then downed the Danube Dragons in the Austrian semifinals.  They defeated the Dacia Vienna Vikings in the ECTC final after they got by Switzerland’s Calanda Broncos to capture the CEFL title. In the other international games, Swarco disposed of France’s Thonon Black Panthers, beating them 41-7 in Central European Football League action and then beat up on the Italian champions, the Milano Seamen, 50-23.

Next up: Season over, Austrian, CEFL champions

2. Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (15-1 GFL) – Germany (Last poll: #1)

The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns finally lost a football game. After two straight German Bowl titles and a 50 game winning streak, the Unicorns were defeated in a defensive thriller in the German Bowl as the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions outlasted them 10-7.

Schwäbisch Hall had looked as good as they have done in the past three years while rolling to a 14-0 regular season record and winning both their quarterfinal matchup against the Berlin Rebels 45-24 and their semifinal game beating the Dresden Monarchs 30-13.

Next up: Season over – German finalists

4. Frankfurt Universe (12-4) – Germany (Last poll: #6)

Frankfurt completed another impressive season losing only four games all year but dropped a 36-18 decision to the eventual champion Braunschweig New Yorker Lions.  In fact, three of their four losses were to the two teams in the German final as they lost both their games against the Unicorns. The only other loss was to the Marburg Mercenaries in the final regular season game when they rested some starters.

The team underwent a coaching change late in the season but still managed to reach the semifinals.

Next up: Season over, German semifinalists

5. Dresden Monarchs (11-5) – Germany (Last poll: #5)

The Monarchs had another solid season reaching the German semifinals for the third time in four years where they were knocked off by their playoff nemesis, the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, 30-13. Dresden’s four losses during the season were all close games as they dropped two to the New Yorker Lions, one to Hildesheim and another to the Berlin Rebels.

Next up: Season over, German semifinalists

6. Dacia Vienna Vikings (10-5 – AFL: 8-4, ECTC: 2-1) – Austria (Last poll: #8)

The Dacia Vienna Vikings were defeated in the Austrian Bowl 42-34 by the Swarco Raiders but not before putting up a battle. They had needed a strong second half against the Prague Black Panthers in the semifinal to win 21-14.. They won all but four games during the year, three to the Swarco Raidersthe last one a 35-10 loss in the ECTC finalThe only other team to beat them was the Graz Giants early in the season. In international play, they had big wins in European Club Team Competition (ECTC) action downing the Badalona Dracs 38-8 and Denmark’s Triangle Razorbacks 60-0.

Next up: Season over, Austrian finalists

7. Calanda Broncos (14-2; NL: 11-1, CEFL: 3-1) Switzerland (Last poll: #7)

Calanda put on a strong showing in the second half of the season, winning the Swiss Bowl in emphatic fashion, beating the Geneva Seahawks 31-0.  They were oh so close to winning the Central European Football League title losing in the championship game 46-42 to Austria’s Swarco Raiders after leading much of the game.  In rest of international CEFL play, the Broncos overwhelmed Turkey’s Koc Rams a few weeks ago whipping them 55-17 in Istanbul and last week beat the Kragujevac Wild Boars from Serbia 37-33.. Calanda opened the tournament with a big 27-3 road win over Poland’s Wroclaw Panthers.

Next up: Season over, Swiss champions

8. Wroclaw Panthers (12-1; LFA: 10-0, CEFL: 2-1) – Poland (Last poll: #9)

The Wroclaw Panthers dominated the opposition in Poland’s Liga Futbolu Amerykańskiego, finishing the regular season with an 8-0 record and then beating the Gdynia Seahawks in the semifinals 52-6 and downing the Bialystok Lowlanders 28-14 to win the title. In international play, the Panthers dropped a 27-3 decision to the Calanda Broncos early on but rebounded with big wins over the Kragujevac Wild Boars from Serbia and Turkey’s Koc Rams.

Next up: Season over, Polish champions

9. Thonon Black Panthers (13-1 FFFA 12-0; CEFL 1-1) France (Last poll: #12)

The Black Panthers finished the French Federation of American Football season by winning the Casque De Diamant, French championship game, beating the Saint-Ouen Cougars  24-7. They did not suffer a single loss in France ending with a perfect 12-0 record. The Black Panthers wrapped up their international season beating the Milano Seamen 42-7. Thonon lost in their opening round game in CEFL play to Austria’s Swarco Raiders 41-7.

Next up: Season over, French champions

10. Hildesheim Invaders (10-5) – Germany (Last poll: #4)

Hildesheim was the most improved team in the league for much of the season before starting quarterback Casey Therriault hurt his ankle and they lost three in a row. After a coaching purge, the Invaders dropped their last  regular season game and then lost to the Frankfurt Universe in the quarterfinals 28-7.

Next up: Season over, German quarterfinaelists

11. Helsinki Roosters (14-2; Finland: 12-2, ECTC North 2-0) – Finland (Last poll: #14)

The Helsinki Roosters opened the season with two straight international wins beating both Swedish champions the Stockholm Mean Machines and Danish title holders, the Copenhagen Towers. Although they dropped their opener against the Kuopio Steelers in Finland, they rebounded and have reeled off 10 straight wins before dropping another game to the Steelers late. They made up for that with a dominating performance in whipping the Steelers in the Maple Bowl 50-6.

Next up: Season over – Finnish champions

12. Berlin Rebels (8-7) Germany (Last poll: Unranked)

The Berlin Rebels stumbled out of the gate in the German Football League this year losing their first three games. Once they stabilized with the addition of a new quarterback, they won eight of their last 11 games, losing a close game to the Dresden Monarchs at the end of the regular season and then pushing the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in the quarterfinals before finally succumbing 45-24.

Next up: Season over – German quarterfinalists

13. Milano Seamen (9-3; IFL; 9-1 CEFL 0-2) – Italy (Last poll: #13)

The Seamen won the Italian title for the third straight year in convincing style, defeating the Firenze Guelfi 62-28 in the title game.  Milano used a strong second half of the season to surge to the title after losing surprisingly to the Parma Panthers .during the regular season, their only loss. They were beaten in both their international games, first by the Swarco Raiders 50-23 and then  by France’s Thonon Black Panthers 42-7 in a game which had no meaning.

Next up: Season over, Italian champions

14. Danube Dragons (7-5) – Austria (Last poll: #10)

The Danube Dragons came close to reaching the Austrian Bowl, losing a tough semifinal game to the Swarco Raiders 49-43. Danube had beaten the Graz Giants 24-17 in the wild card playoffs to earn the right to play in the semis.

The Dragons had fashioned a solid 6-4 regular season record with their only losses coming against the Raiders, as well as the Dacia Vienna Vikings and the Prague Black Panthers (34-31). Their performance against Swarco in the semis earned them their 10th place.

Next up: Season over, Austrian semifinalists.

15. Badalona Dracs (12-1; 11-0 Spain, 1-1 ECTC Central) – Spain (Last poll: #16)

The Badalona Dracs romped through the Spanish League of American Football in 2019, assembling an 11-0 unbeaten record and capturing their fourth straight Spanish title., whipping the Las Rozas Black Demons in the final 47-6Badalona lost to the Dacia Vienna Vikings in the CEFL 38-8 but came back and beat Denmark’s Triangle Razorbacks 54-38.

Next up: Season over, Spanish champions.

16. Stockholm Mean Machines (10-2; Sweden: 10-0; ECTC North: 0-2) – Sweden (Last poll: #18)

The Mean Machines won their second straight Swedish title and 12th overall in beating the Carlstad Crusaders 49-35 in the Swedish championship game. The game capped a perfect season in Sweden for Stockholm as they went unbeaten in the Swedish Superserien. This included three wins over the Crusaders.The only blemishes on the Mean Machines record were close losses to Finland’s Helsinki Roosters and to the Copenhagen Towers from Denmark in Northern European Football League play.

Next up: Season over, Swedish champions

17. Prague Black Panthers (7-5) – Austrian Football League (Czech Rep.) (Last poll: #11)

The Prague Black Panthers lost in the Austrian semifinals, succumbing 28-21 to the Dacia Vienna Vikings. The Black Panthers had won their final three games of the regular season and then beat the Mödling Rangers in the wild card round giving them a four-game winning streak entering the semifinal. That streak included a tough 34-31 victory over the Danube Dragons, to earn home field advantage. Prague’s only losses came at the hands of the Vikings and Swarco Raiders as well as one to the Graz Giants.

Next up: Season over, Austrian semifinalists.

18. Marburg Mercenaries (9-6 GFL) – Germany (Last poll: #17)

The Marburg Mercenaries surged after losing their first three games of the season, winning nine of their last 11 regular season games, behind the most prolific passing offense in the GFL. After upsetting the Frankfurt Universe in the final regular season game of the season, Marburg finally succumbed to the Dresden Monarchs in the GFL quarterfinals, losing 39-22.

Next up: Season over, German quarterfinalists

19. Kragujevac Wild Boars (10-2; Serbia 9-0; CEFL 1-2) Serbia (Last poll: 20)

The Kraguevac Wild Boars captured their fourth consecutive Serbian crown beating the SBB Vukovi Belgrade 60-55 in the title game. This capped a perfect season in the Serbian league for the Wild Boars which saw them average 50 points a game. In the CEFL, Kragujevac suffered two losses to the Wroclaw Panthers )70-13) and the Calanda Broncos (37-33). They defeated Turkey’s Koc Rams 53-36.

Next up: Season over, Serbian champions

Tie for #20

20. London Warriors (12-0) Great Britain (Last poll: Unranked)

The London Warriors have regained their supremacy in the UK with a perfect 12-0 season including lopsided wins in the playoffs and championship game. They averaged 61 points a game while giving up a total of 64 points in 12 games, 29 of those in the British final in a 56-29 win over the Tamworth Phoenix. In fact, this was their most dominant season in their history.

Next up: Season over, British champions

20. Triangle Razorbacks (8-4) – Denmark (Last poll: Unranked)

After struggling through a mediocre season which saw them finish third in the Danish National League, the Razorbacks found another gear in the playoffs. First they defeated the Sollerod Gold Diggers in the semifinals 20-16 and then they upset the defending champion Copenhagen Towers 20-14 in the Mermaid Bowl, Denmark’s title game.

Next up: Season over, Danish champions

Honorable Mention: Frienze Guelfi, Italy; Saint-Ouen Cougars, France; Copenhagen Towers, Denmark; Asnieres Molosses, France; Stuttgart Scorpions, Germany; Kuopio Steelers, Finland; Białystok Lowlanders, Poland; Graz Giants, Austria; Bolzano Giants, Italy; Geneva Seahawks, Switzerland; Carlstad Crusaders, Sweden; Mödling Rangers, Austria; SBB Vukovi Belgrade, Serbia; Amsterdam Crusaders, Netherlands; Moscow Spartans, Russia.

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