Braunschweig New Yorker Lions HC Troy Tomlin is ready to turn the corner

This year, for the first time since Troy Tomlin took over as head coach of the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in 2013, the team found itself in a slump in the German Football League having lost three of their first five games of the regular season.

This was unheard of. This was a team that had dominated the GFL North for the past decade and before this season had lost a total of five regular season games in the seven previous years!

Then, two weeks ago, the Lions put on a show, dominating a strong Cologne Crocodiles team, beating them 43-28 to earn win #3 and even their record at 3-3. 

Their third win came at the right time in a 10 game GFL season and leaves them now in prime position to make a dash towards the playoffs, a far cry to how the season started.

So what happened this season?

The formation of the European Football League (ELF) and a COVID off-season were two major factors. Also, a number of their domestic players had left the team and they were limited to only three imports as the club was unsure if they would even play a season.

And to top it all off, preparations were severely limited as coach Tomlin explains:

“We are located in the strictest area of COVID regulations. We were allowed to practice in April to Mid May with only 8 people per 100 yards. Those eight people had to pair it off and no pairs were to come in contact with any other pair. With three full grassfields and a partial artificial turf the maximum number of people we could have at any type of conditioning practice was 28.  We were first allowed a full regular team practice in the middle of May with strict testing of every person for every practice. Therefore we were first allowed to bring in our three Americans at the beginning of June. It all made for late preparation and a tough start to the season. But I’m very happy with how the team came together and have battled.”

Following an expected lopsided win over the Berlin Rebels in game one, game two against the same Rebels team ended in a ‘too close for comfort’ 29-22 victory. Then disaster struck as they were beaten by current GFL favorites, the Dresden Monarchs 35 – 27 – their first loss since the 2018 GFL semi-finals. But the game was close and with Dresden being one of the better teams in Germany, there was still no cause for concern. 

The following two games were a cause for concern however as a 34-31 defeat served up by an inconsistent Kiel Baltic Hurricanes squad and then a 50-3 pounding by Potsdam Royals left the organization dismayed. 

“The Potsdam game was an example of a team able to prepare since April. Also they have brought in a record number of import players. We have a young developing team and in some areas we were mismatched and we got beat. They are a great team and we are still finding our way. We will learn from that experience and continue to work to get better.”

It was at this point that Tomlin and the organization felt a change had to be made and bring in more firepower if they had any hope of making it to the postseason:

“After the Potsdam game I wanted to be able to bring in some imports to match the number of imports most teams have in the North. Our main sponsor, NewYorker, approved the plan and we brought in the guys we felt could help the team in some key positions. We are still working to get everyone on the same page. Excited to see how they develop.”

Despite what Tomlin said, the team already looks a world apart from their performance against the Royals. The 43-28 scoreline against the Crocodiles was not reflective of the control that the Lions asserted throughout. Quarterback Jake Kennedy was afforded plenty more opportunities to do his thing with the arrival of Italian receiving standout Jordan Bouah, Polish offensive lineman Mateusz Samczuk and running back CJ Okpalobi. Defensively, ballhawk Darrain Winston, Polish pass rusher Eryk Paszkiewicz and French linebacker Paul Veritas all allowed Exavier Edwards more freedom to continue explosively applying his skillset at running back.

This weekend the Lions will be staring down the Dresden Monarchs who handed them their first defeat of the season. But both the Monarchs and the Lions know that this is not the same Braunschweig team that was on show in week three, a fact that Tomlin humbly alludes to:

“Our next game is against Dresden. We are working hard. They are a great, explosive team. They are in first place in the North for a reason. We will have to play our best game of the year.”

Make sure to watch the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions take on the Dresden Monarchs this Saturday, August 14 at 15:00 CET (3 pm, 09:00 am ET) on AFI.tv to see if the Lions can turn the corner.

 

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