Basel Gladiators face Calanda Broncos in Swiss Bowl XXXII as underdogs – again

Switzerland’s Basel Gladiators have reached the Swiss Bowl, Switzerland’s national championship game, for the sixth time since 2010 and for the sixth time they will face the seven-time champion Calanda Broncos.

They have only beaten Calanda once in those five previous championship games. And they enter this one as the underdog, again.

The Gladiators downed the defending champions Bern Grizzlies 14-7  in th semifinals to advance to the final after finishing the regular season with a 6-4 record including a key victory over Bern which decided home field advantage in the playoffs.

The last time Basel played in the final, they won the title, beating the Broncos 47-35 in 2014.

In the two regular season meetings against Calanda this season, the Gladiators have come away with two losses, 47-21 and 30-7. Which makes them underdogs.

However, in the last month of the season, Basel’s defense improved, dropping their per game average points allowed from 26.6 to 16. In the semifinal against Bern, the Gladiators adopted a bend-but-don’t-break approach, allowing the Grizzlies three trips to the red zone without giving up a score.

The offense, led by Terell Smith and Nate Rhoades along with young Swiss quarterback Pablo Scharowski then scored when needed. In fact the quarterback by committee employed by Basel is difficult for defensive coordinators to  scheme against. Each one of the three brings something different to the table.

Basel Gladiators DB Tim Hagmann batting away a pass against the Bern Grizzlies in playoff game Photo: Gerd Gruendl

The defense is anchored by defensive backs Tim Hagmann and Brandon Hathaway who has been outstanding on defense according to Gladiators head coach Dwaine Wood. 

Wood is a veteran of Swiss Bowls and realizes his team is the definite underdog going into this game.

“We have been here before. We always seem to be the underdog against the Broncos but I love the underdog and being the underdog. They are a great team, and without almost any weaknesses. So we have nothing to lose.”

The fact that the game is being held at the Broncos home field in Chur may be a factor, but that might not be an advantage for Calanda according to Wood:

“They are playing the Swiss Bowl at home for the first time in a long time. The stadium will be rocking. Expectations will be high and nerves could be a factor.”

But whatever the outcome, Wood wants a great game:

“Calanda fans are always crazy good. It is going to be a great atmosphere. I count on us doing our part to make it a great Swiss Bowl.”


Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.