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

We are introducing our second AFI Europe Top 20 Coaches Poll and this one is filled with changes from our initial poll.

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 13 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 will continue throughout the European regular season and during the post season, relying 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 2019 please email [email protected].

Now to the poll!

1. Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (9-0 GFL) – Germany (Last poll: #1)

The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns have passed the halfway point of the 2019 season and look just as dominant as ever.  The Unicorns are on a 43 game winning streak stretching back to the 2016 German Bowl and show no signs of letting up. This year they have beaten the Marburg Mercenaries 52-9, the Ingolstadt Dukes 24-0,  the Munich Cowboys 35-3, Kirchdorf Wildcats 51-12, Stuttgart Scorpions 63-13, Frankfurt Universe 31-0, Stuttgart again, 63-21, Kirchdorf Wildcats 56-0 and Ingolstadt Dukes 51-0.

Next up: Munich Cowboys, July 27.

2. Swarco Raiders (14-0 – AFL: 11-0 CEFL: 4-0 Int.) – Austria (Last poll: #2)

The defending Austrian champs have looked just as impressive as ever in running their record to 14-0 overall (4-0 in CEFL play) 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 and then 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: Austrian Bowl XXXV vs Dacia Vienna Vikings, July 27.

3. New Yorker Lions (7-0 – Germany (Last poll: #3)

The Lions have looked every bit as impressive as their championship years. They have won all their games but were pushed to the limit by both the Dresden Monarchs, finally beating them 34-31 and also by the Hildesheim Invaders who they rallied to defeat 35-28, in the last game before the break. They had opened the year beating the Cologne Crocodiles in a back-to-back series, 23-6 and 45-7, and then took care of the only team that defeated them in the regular season last year, the Berlin Rebels. Braunschweig beat the Rebels 29-12. The Lions downed the Potsdam Royals 35-14.

Next up: Berlin Rebels, July 28.

4. Hildesheim Invaders (6-1) – Germany (Last poll: #6)

Hildesheim is so far the most improved team in the league and have won six of their seven opening games.  They edged the Dresden Monarchs 31-27 and finally were beaten by the New Yorker Lions 35-28 in the last game before the break. Most of their other wins were by lopsided scores as they beat the Potsdam Royals 50-28, took care of the Dusseldorf Panther 49-17, downed the Cologne Crocodiles 31-14, outlasted the Berlin Rebels 56-41.and beat the Panther again 46-10.

Next up: Kiel Baltic Hurricanes, July 27.

5. Dresden Monarchs (5-2) – Germany (Last poll: #5)

The Monarchs had opened the season with three straight wins – 49-13 over the Dusseldorf Panther ,42-14 over the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes and then a 17-0 shut out of the Cologne Crocodiles – before dropping two close games in a  row, 34-27 to the New Yorker Lions and then 31-27 to Hildesheim. They rebounded beating Cologne again, 42-7 and then the Potsdam Royals, 33-13. Their two close games against the Lions and Invaders show they are definite contenders.

Next up: Dusseldorf Panther, July 27.

6. Frankfurt Universe (6-1) – Germany (Last poll: #4)

Frankfurt has opened the 2019 with four wins, – downing the Ingolstadt Dukes 37-13 and then getting by the Munich Cowboys 24-17, after beating the Allgau Comets 20-0 in their opening game  and then downing the Marburg Mercenaries 20-14. They were brought down to earth with a thud, getting shut out 31-0 by the Unicorns. They came back and defeated Ingolstadt 63-13 and the Comets 34-7

Next up: Kirchdorf Wildcats, July 28.

7. Calanda Broncos (14-2; NL: 11-1, CEFL: 3-1) Switzerland (Last poll: #9)

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. Dacia Vienna Vikings (10-4 – AFL: 8-3, ECTC: 2-1) – Austria (Last poll: #7)

The Dacia Vienna Vikings have reached the Austrian Bowl but 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 Raiders, the last one a 35-10 loss in the ECTC final. The 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: Austrian Bowl vs Swarco Raiders, July 27.

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

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

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

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.

11. Prague Black Panthers (7-5) – Austria (Last poll: Unranked)

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.

12. Thonon Black Panthers (12-1 FFFA 10-0; 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

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. Helsinki Roosters (8-1; Finland: 6-, NEFL 2-0) – Finland (Last poll: #17)

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 six straight wins including a lopsided 42-13 victory over the Helsinki Wolverines.

Next up: Seinäjoki Crocodiles, July 26

15. Copenhagen Towers (7-1 DAFF 6-0; 1-1 ECTC) – Denmark (Last poll: #18)

At the midway point of the Danish season, Copenhagen has a perfect 6-0 record and is powering over all opposition in Denmark. The Towers are averaging over 47 points a game and looked poised to capture their ninth Danish title. In their last two games they downed the Aalbor 89ers 52-36 and the Triangle Razorbacks 56-36. They had opened the season by beating the Frederikssund Oaks 42-7, the Aarhus Tigers 40-6, Sollerod Gold Diggers 44-26 and Aarhus Tigers 49-20.. They have also played a pair of international games, losing to Finland’s Helsinki Roosters 22-18 and downing the Stockholm Mean Machines from Sweden 28-25.

Next up: Frederikssund Oaks, August 17.

16. Badalona Dracs (11-0 Spain, 1-1 CEFL) – Spain (Last poll: #15)

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.

17. Marburg Mercenaries (5-3 GFL) – Germany (Last poll: Unranked)

The Marburg Mercenaries have surged since losing their first three games of the season, ripping off five straight wins including two over the Kirchdorf Wildcats, 55-49 and 41-28. They whipped the Stuttgart Scorpions 52-14 to avenge an opening game 30-21 loss. They downed the Ingolstadt Dukes 43-14 and Munich Cowboys 41-29. Their other two losses were against the Unicorns (52-9) and Frankfurt Universe 20-14.

Next up: Ingolstadt Dukes, July 27.

18. Stockholm Mean Machines (10-2; Sweden: 10-0; NEFL: 0-2) – Sweden (Last poll: #20)

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

19. Firenze Guelfi (8-3 Italy) – Italy (Last poll: Unranked)

The Firenze Guelfi were the most improved team in Italy’s Division 1 in 2019 rebounding from a season which saw them lose their last seven games. This season the Guelfi, behind All-Europe RB/QB Silas Nacita, made their way to the Italian Bowl where they lost to the Milano Seamen. On the way they fashioned a 6-2 regular season record which including a last second loss to the Seamen. They beat the Torino Giaguari in the semifinals and then disposed of the Bolzano Giants 42-39 in the semifinals.

Next up: Season over, Italian finalists

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

The Kraguevac Wild Boars captured their fourth consecutive Serbian crown beating the SBB Vukovi Belgrade 40-27 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

Honorable Mention: Saint-Ouen Cougars, France; Berlin Rebels, Germany; London Warriors, Great Britain; 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.

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