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

It’s time for our first, long-awaited AFI Europe Top 20 Coaches Poll.

We’ve had a few hiccups but with the seasons of all the major European nations now fully underway and with a panel of coaches that has expanded to 13, AFI is finally able to present our first  Top 20 of 2019. You may not agree with all the picks. And there are a couple of surprising teams on the list. A few other teams you might have expected to be there are not. Let us know your thoughts.

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 be conducted regularly 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].

1. Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (5-0 GFL) – Germany (Last poll #1)

The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns have opened the 2019 season the way they finished the 2018, dominating teams and remaining undefeated. The Unicorns are on a 39 game winning streak stretching back to the 2016 German Bowl and have looked just as impressive as ever this year.  This year they have beaten the Marburg Mercenaries 52-9, the Ingolstadt Dukes 24-0,  the Munich Cowboys 35-3, Kirchdorf Wildcats 51-12 and Stuttgart Scorpions 63-13.

Next up: Frankfurt Universe, June 1.

2. Swarco Raiders (9-0 – AFL: 7-0 CEFL: 2-0 Int.) – Austria (Last poll #4)

The defending Austrian champs have looked just as impressive as ever in running their record to 9-0 overall (2-0 in CEFL play) They opened the year with five straight wins, including a 48-28 victory over arch rivals, the Dacia Vienna Vikings,  and have been on a roll ever since. However, they had a tough game against the Prague Black Panthers in their latest outing, beating them 28-14. In 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: Dacia Vienna Vikings, June 1.

3. New Yorker Lions (4-0 – Germany (Last poll #5)

The Lions have also started the season Braunschweig has won its three opening games 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. Last week, the Lions downed the Potsdam Royals 35-14.

Next up: Dresden Monarchs, June 1

4. Frankfurt Universe (4-0) – Germany (Last poll #2)

Frankfurt has opened the 2019 with four wins, downing the Ingolstadt Dukes 37-13 and then getting by the Munich Cowboys two weeks ago 24-17, after beating the Allgau Comets 20-0 in their opening game  and then downing the Marburg Mercenaries 20-14.

Next up: Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, June 1.

5. Dresden Monarchs (3-0) – Germany (Last poll #8)

The Monarchs are coming off of 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 last week.

Next up: Braunschweig New Yorker Lions, June 1.

6. Hildesheim Invaders (4-0) – Germany (Last poll Unranked)

Hildesheim is so far the most improved team in the league and have won their four opening games by lopsided scores beating the Potsdam Royals 50-28, taking care of the Dusseldorf Panther 49-17, downing the Cologne Crocodiles 31-14, and then outlasting the Berlin Rebels 56-41.

Next up: Dusseldorf Panther, June 1.

7. Dacia Vienna Vikings (7-2 – AFL: 5-2, ECTC: 2-0) – Austria (Last poll #7)

The Dacia Vienna Vikings are finally on a roll. Last week they downed the Mödling Rangers 55-28 and the week before beat the Prague Black Panthers 55-28. They had defeated the Danube Dragons 10-3 and the week prior they had a big win in European Club Team Competition (ECTC) action in Barcelona, Spain, where they downed the Badalona Dracs 38-8. With the victory, the Vikings have won the ECTC Central Division(after also beating the Triangle Razorbacks from Denmark on April 14) and will now play in the ECTC/CEFL playoff game the weekend of June 8/9.

The Vikings have had a pair of tough losses first losing to the Swarco Raiders 48-28 in the second game of the year and then, two games later dropping a tough 36-14 decision to the Graz Giants.

Next up: Swarco Raiders, June 1.

8. Thonon Black Panthers (11-1 FFFA 10-0; CEFL 1-1) France (Last poll Unranked)

The Black Panthers finished the French Federation of American Football regular season with a perfect 10-0 record averaging 42.5 points a game. Their final game was a 74-0 demolishing of the Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons. 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 and then the Seamen suffered the same fate, losing to the Raiders 50-23. With those losses, both teams were eliminated from title aspirations as Swarco has moved on to the championship final.

Next up: French semifinals, June  15/16.

9. Calanda Broncos (7-1; NL: 5-1, CEFL: 2-0) Switzerland (Last poll #11)

Calanda has moved out to a 5-1 record in Switzerland’s National League and after losing 14-12 to the Geneva Seahawks early on has ripped off four straight wins. In 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 which gives them an edge in the race for first place in the conference.

Next up: Luzern Lions, June 2.

10. Wroclaw Panthers (8-1; LFA: 7-0, CEFL: 1-1) – Poland (Last poll #20)

The Wroclaw Panthers have dominated the opposition in Poland’s Liga Futbolu Amerykańskiego, and with a 7-0 record look poised to take the title which they inexplicably missed out on in 2018. 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: Poznan Armia, June 2.

11. Stuttgart Scorpions (3-1) – Germany (Last poll Unranked)

Stuttgart won a total of two games last season and have already surpassed that, getting off to their best start in the GFL since 2014 when they won their first nine games of the season. The Scorpions opened the season with a 30-21 win over the Marburg Mercenaries, followed that up by beating the Kirchdorf Wildcats, 34.7 and then two weeks ago defeated Ingolstadt 37-30. Last week they suffered a 63-13 loss to the Unicorns.

Next up: Kirchdorf Wildcats, June 1.

12. Potsdam Royals (2-2)  – Germany (Last poll Unranked)

The Royals dropped their opening game to the Hildesheim Invaders, losing 50-28, but rebounded three  weeks ago in beating the Berlin Rebels 30-17.  They then downed the Dusseldorf Panther34-17 only to lose to the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions last week, 35-14.

Next up: Braunschweig New Yorker Lions, June 15.

13. Milano Seamen (7-1 IFL; 0-2 CEFL) – Italy (Last poll #9)

So far in the Italian league, the Seamen have reached the semifinals and built a record of 7-1 and have looked impressive  in their victories over the Bergamo Lions, Bologna Warriors and Ancona Dolphins (29-6) before they were unceremoniously dumped by Parma earlier in April, 22-19They rebounded though with a huge 34-28 last second win over the Firenze Guelfi. Since then they easily blanked the Lazio Ducks 51-0 and then beaten a surprisingly tough Torinao Giaguari 36-27. They then whipped the second place Bolzano Giants 44-16 to secure first place in Italy. Last week they were beaten by France’s Thonon Black Panthers 42-7 in a game which had no bearing.

Next up: Italian semifinals, June 15/16.

14. Danube Dragons (5-2) – Austria (Last poll Unranked)

The Danube Dragons have built a solid 5-2 record in the Austrian Football League and are coming off of two straight wins, beating the Amstetten Thunder 45-10 and then last week getting by the Graz Giants 21-14. Their only two losses have been to the Dacia Vienna Vikings, 10-3 and Swarco Raiders 34-14.

Next up: Amstetten Thunder, June 1.

15. Badalona Dracs (11-0 Spain, 1-1 CEFL)

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 champs.

16. Bolzano Giants (6-2 Italy, 2-0 CEFL Cup) – Italy  (Last poll Unranked)

Bolzano sit second in the standings in Italy after losing badly to the Milano Seamen 44-16 a couple of weeks ago. They had opened the season with six straight wins, including a thrilling 36-32 victory over the Firenze Guelfi.  First the Giants came out 41-7 winners over the Torino Giaguari and then defeated Bergamo 28-24  and the Parma  Panthers 20-6. The Giants disposed of the Bologna Warriors 33-6 and in their last outing downed the Ancona Dolphins 41-29. The Giants have advanced to the championship final in CEFL Cup play after beating the  Budapest Wolves from Hungary 36-19 and Serbia’s Vukovi Belgrade 42-27.

Next up: Moscow Spartans, CEFL Cup Final, June 8

17. Helsinki Roosters (2-1 Finland: 0-1; NEFL 2-0) – Finland (Last poll #3)

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 should regain their 2018 form.

Next up: Wasa Royals, June 2

18. Copenhagen Towers (4-0 DAFF; 1-1 ECTC) – Denmark (Last poll #9)

Copenhagen has opened the season by beating the Frederikssund Oaks 42-7 and the Aarhus Tigers 40-6. 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. A week ago they downed the Aarhus Tigers 49-20.

Next up: Aalborg 89ers, June 15.

19. Asnieres Molosses (8-0-2 France) – France (Last poll Unranked)

The Molosses are undefeated in the French League of American Football North Conference and boast by far the stingiest offense in the country. They have allowed an average of only 4.8 points a game and definitely look like a contender for the French title.

Next up: French semifinal, June 15.

20. Stockholm Mean Machines (5-1; Sweden: 4-0; NEFL: 0-2) – Sweden

The Mean Machines have opened the 2019 season going unbeaten in the Swedish Superserien while losing to the Helsinki Roosters and the Copenhagen Towers in Northern European Football League play. Both games were nail biters. Stockholm looks good enough to defend their Swedish title.

Next up: Orebro Black Knights, June 1

Honorable Mention:  Firenze Guelfi (Italy); London Warriors, Great Britain; Kuopio Steelers (Finland); Kragujevac Wild Boars, Serbia; Białystok Lowlanders, Poland; Graz Giants, Austria; Parma Panthers, Italy; Geneva Seahawks, Switzerland; Carlstad Crusaders, Sweden; Mödling Rangers, Austria.

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