Austria kicks off the 2021 season this weekend

The Austrian Football League kicks off a full six team season for the first time since 2019 this weekend with two games on tap.

Six teams will battle for the Austrian Bowl title, the first to be played since 2019 due to the pandemic. In 2020, with most teams opting out due to the COVID-19, the Austrian Football League arranged a Best-of-Five Fall Championship series between the Dacia Vienna Vikings and Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants which the Vikings won 3-0.

This season, the reigning Austrian titleholders (but not Austrian Bowl winners), the Dacia Vienna Vikings will take on the reigning Austrian Bowl champions, the Swarco Raiders, as well as the Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants, SsangYong Danube Dragons, Mödling Rangers and Prague Black Panthers.

Let’s take a quick look at the key players for each team.

Dacia Vienna Vikings

2020: Won Austrian title in Best-of-5 series against Graz Giants.

2019: Finished 2nd. Lost in Austrian Bowl to Swarco Raiders.

Head coach: Chris Calaycay

The reigning Austrian champions look as strong as ever as head coach Chris Calaycay has assembled another solid team. His new QB is Eystin Salum from Colorado Mesa University while returning to the team are WR Maurice Wappl and 2020 defensive MVP Leon Balogh as well as DB Luis Horvath and DB/RB Andrew Spencer, RB Florian Wegen,  and OL Ben Rab.

Swarco Raiders

2020: Opted out due to pandemic

2019: Won Austrian Bowl

Head coach: Kevin Herron

New head coach Kevin Herron took over last year but the pandemic prevented him from leading his team into play. He will have back championship-winning QB Sean Shelton,  and RB Tobias Bonatti. The offensive line will be anchored by Michael Habetin while the defense will be bolstered by AFI All-Pandemic Team LB AJ Wentland.

Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants

2020: Lost Best-of-5 Championship Series to Dacia Vienna Vikings

2019: Finished 5-5, lost in Wild Card Playoffs to Danube Dragons

Head coach: Martin Kocian

The Giants head into the 2021 campaign with a new QB in Conor Miller who played for the Cologne Crocodiles in Germany in 2019. Wideouts include Johannes Schütz and Darrell Adams (Azuza Pacific) while German RB Lars Kozlowski fills out the backfield. On defense, Coach Kocian will rely on DB Juwan Haynes (Toledo), and LB Thomas Schnurrer, Austria’s leading tackler in 2019.

AFC Mödling Rangers

 

2020: Opted out due to pandemic

2019: Finished 4-6, lost in Wild Card Playoffs to Prague Black Panthers

Head coach: Josiah Cravalho

The Rangers will rely on homegrown QB Benjamin Bräuer and he will have a pair of excellent wideouts in Christoph Weber and Emil Eckersdorfer. The team has signed Colorado State University-Pueblo RB Austin Micci. Defensively, Coach Cravalho starts the season with LBs Felix Macher and Markus Bernas as well as Nick Milgate (Alfred University).

SsangYong Danube Dragons

2020: Opted out due to pandemic

2019: Finished 6-4, lost in Semi-finals to Swarco Raiders

Head coach: Stefan Pokorny

The Dragons have re-signed one of the most prolific passers in the league in Chad Jeffries who will be playing his 3rd straight season, He will be ably backed up Austrian Alexander Thury. RB Byron Rhone also returns while at wide receiver, Jeffries will have Philipp Haun and Felix Reisacher to throw to. Defensively, Coach Pokorny will rely on Austrian national team DL Bernhard Mosor as well as veteran LB Florian Albrecht.

Prague Black Panthers

2020: Unable to play due to pandemic

2019: Finished 6-4, lost in Semi-finals to the Dacia Vienna Vikings

Head coach: Petr Vitovec

Coach Vitovec has brought in former German Football League QB Zach Greenlee who was one of the leading passers in the GFL in 2019. He will have excellent targets to throw to including WRs Jan Stiegler and Jakub Wolesky. The defensive secondary is anchored by veteran DB Filip Ondrasek.

Watch Austrian Football League action live on AFI tv

Watch the Dacia Vienna Vikings take on the Modling Rangers on Saturday, March 27 on AFI tv. On Sunday, March 28, the SsangYong Danube Dragons will face the Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants on AFI tv.

All graphics: Igor Lazarevic

 

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