German Bowl: Dresden Monarchs LB AJ Wentland fashionably late

Aj Wentland joined the Dresden Monarchs party late this season, but the now starting linebacker feels this is the team’s best chance to win their first ever German Bowl, and he has good reason to think so.

Although Dresden looked sharp in their opening game of the season, with the offense seemingly on fire, they still fell short, losing to the Cologne Crocodiles 48 – 41. Since then, though, Dresden has gone from strength to strength on an unbeaten crusade, demolishing everyone in their path, racking up impressive numbers along the way.

However, late in the season, the team still had a couple of holes to fill in the roster, much like every other team. So, when those two holes were filled by an ex-NFL running back, Devwah Whaley and All-Europe and All American linebacker Wentland (one of the top tacklers in Division II football), the Monarchs could hardly believe their luck.

For Wentland though, this was just a homecoming, one that he knew was in the cards:

“I wasn’t surprised about coming back, it was always in the discussion about coming back to help reinforce the team and help Dresden win a German Bowl. This organization has done so much for me and although I had to make business decisions and see new things, it worked out for both parties and the organization and I came to agreements in July to fly out at the end of August and help out in the playoffs.”

This will be Wentland’s third season with the Monarchs, the first two coming in 2018 and 2019 before stints with the Kuopio Steelers in Finland (2020) and Austria’s Swarco Raiders (2021). Since his arrival in Europe, he has maintained his tackling rampage, placing as the top tackler in the GFL two years in a row. He continued that dominance in Finland with the Steelers, helping them on the way to their first ever Maple League title and then again with the Raiders for an Austrian championship. Despite all his success, the German Bowl has eluded him after two crushing semifinal defeats by the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, but he feels this time around in Dresden will be different.

“Coming back to the Monarchs I have seen the team camaraderie and family atmosphere grow immensely. The organization has done a good job bringing in good character guys and the local German players have grown in maturity and experience.

“I think we had great teams in 2018 and 2019, but the team camaraderie and family atmosphere this year is higher than it ever has been since I’ve been here. The offense is the best I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here, with just too many weapons to take everything into account for opposing defenses. And the Defense is getting stronger every week as the season goes on. I think this year we will finish the job, the organization, fans, and players, both present and past, are deserving and ready for the German title.”

The 6’42, 240 pound linebacker has already made his presence felt in Dresden, racking up 18 tackles, four TFL, two sacks and one fumble recovery in just three games. His name will undoubtedly be heard again on Saturday, but not just because he’s one of the best linebackers in Europe, but because after the Unicorns denied Wentland passage to the German Bowl for two consecutive years he is finally getting the opportunity to gain vengeance in the most perfect of ways.

This may well be one of the best teams Dresden has ever assembled, and they’ve played in the tougher GFL North conference. The Unicorns have had a relatively easy run to the German Bowl – considering who they had to face off against in the past. How that will unfold on the weekend will certainly make for one of the best bowl-games this summer.

Make sure to watch the German Bowl live on AFI.tv. Kickoff is Saturday, October 9 at 18:00 CET (6 pm, 12 noon ET).

 

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who has worked in B2B journalism and comms in the third sector; with experience in both education and human rights. He has played football for the London Warriors for the last 15 years as well as the