Defending ELF champion Frankfurt Galaxy look to get back to winning ways against Vienna Vikings

Just as they did a year ago, the Frankfurt Galaxy kicked off the 2022 ELF season with a loss.

The defending ELF champions were upset 29-26 by the upstart Rhein Fire a week ago, losing on a walk-off field goal. It was a similar story in 2021 when they fell to the Hamburg Sea Devils, but the Galaxy never lost a game the rest of the way and hoisted the trophy when all was said and done.

Frankfurt’s quest to do the same this year will begin on Sunday in Austria, taking on a Vienna Vikings team who won their first-ever ELF contest last week against the Tirol Raiders. In a deep Central Conference, it’s an early-season matchup bound to have playoff implications down the line.

Turnovers proved to be the Galaxy’s undoing in Week 1 and being mistake-free won’t be any easier against a playmaking Vienna defense. Defensive backs Benjamin Straight and Luis Horvath had game-changing takeaways in their ELF debut, linebacker Thomas Schnurrer racked up 13 tackles, and defensive end Leon Balogh cannot be counted out.

Unfortunately for Frankfurt, star quarterback Jakeb Sullivan may not be at the helm for the bounce back performance, as he is questionable to play with an injury. As insurance, the team has brought back German backup Moritz Johannknecht but he’ll need more from the Galaxy’s receiving corps by committee after Timo Benschuh led the group with six catches for just 52 yards a week ago. Russian-American running back Gennadiy Adams has proven to be a nice complementary piece, but the passing game needs to be the focal point.

In the team’s favor is stalwart defensive unit that held the Fire to just 145 yards passing a week ago. The usual suspects of French linebacker Wael Nasri, Swedish linebacker Sebastian Gauthier and German defensive back Joshua Poznanski were all major box score contributors once again, while the team has added former USFL cornerback Ja’Len Embry to the roster on Wednesday.

That could be bad news for highly touted Vikings‘ quarterback Jackson Erdmann, who was held under 50 percent passing for 122 yards in his first European action but still found hulking wide receiver Florian Bierbaumer for three touchdowns. The six-foot-six Austrian should figure into the equation once again, as will Spanish tight end Adria Botella Moreno, but the secret to success could be running back Florian Wegan after Frankfurt gave up an average of 4.7 yards per carry in their season-opening loss.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.