Dresden Monarchs crowned GFL champions for first time in club history

For the first time in club history, the Dresden Monarchs have captured the German Football League championship, winning German Bowl XLII following a 28 – 19 victory over the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. 

Although it was Monarchs’ quarterback, Kyle Carta-Samuels Jr., who was a key, not only in this game (he threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns) but for the entirety of the regular season, the team leaned heavily on former Arkansas and NFL running back Devwah Whaley who finished the game with 151 yards rushing on 30 carries, one touchdown and some key first downs.

There had been a ton of anticipation coming into the championship final, with both teams dominating throughout the season, bullishly swatting teams aside on their way, but they both opened this game looking flat. The longest pickup was on a personal-foul penalty against Whaley.

Dresden QB KJ Carta-Samuels threw for 222 yards and 2 TDs Photo: Sarah Philipp

However, after the championship jitters had been shaken off, the star receivers on both sides came alive. First it was Dresden’s Derrell Stewart Jr. who, after an uncharacteristically quiet end of season, put on a show. He was manned up against the Unicorns‘ number one cover man, Monteze Latimore and dominated that matchup early, getting in the endzone on just the Monarchs second drive.

Next up it was Schwäbisch Hall’s turn, with former Indianapolis Colts receiver, Tyler Rutenbeck shining. He made short work of the European side of the Dresden’s defense and got in for the Unicorns first score off a go-route. A failed conversion kept the score at 7 – 6.

This was when Whaley then began to make his presence felt, slowly chipping away at the Unicorns, running draw play after draw play. The Monarchs were in no short supply of yards in the first half but a couple of costly turnovers from a Whaley fumble in the redzone and then a tipped pass, which Latimore was able to pull in, kept the Monarchs out the endzone and gave the Unicorns the time they needed to start putting points on the board.

These points would not come from the Unicorn’s German quarterback, starter Alexander Haupert however, but instead newly arrived Italian Bowl champion and former Parma Panthers quarterback Rielly Hennessey. Haupert left the game in the second quarter after being flushed out the pocket, hit and landing on and injuring his throwing arm.

Dresden RB Devwah Whaley rushed for 151 yards Photo: Sarah Philipp

Hennessey, like Haupert, continued to look Rutenbeck’s way and found him for the second time in the back corner of the endzone, and this time against Dresden’s coverman, Texas A&M alumnus Charles Oliver. But after another failed conversion the Unicorns went in at the half up only 12 – 6.

After a devastating onside-kick attempt by the Monarchs that went about two yards the Unicorns started with excellent field position which Hennessey took full advantage of. Two completions to wideout Yannick Mayr later and the Unicorns were in the endzone again, this time wisely going for the kick to make it 19 – 6.

Despite the score differential, the Monarchs remained composed and committed to their gameplan. Samuels looked Stewart’s way often and wasn’t disappointed, picking up large chunks at a time, all the while sticking with the run. The Unicorns’ defense stiffened in the latter parts of the drive, but the Monarchs converted on fourth down, eventually ending the drive with a 15-yard scoring run off a draw from Whaley.

It was at this point that momentum began to shift and a blocked punt after a woeful Unicorns drive put Dresden in prime position to get on the board again with a field goal. With the score now standing at 19-17, the Monarchs put their foot on the pedal and refused to look back.

Unicorns QB Reilly Hennessey threw for 164 yards and 2 TDs in three quarters of play during German Bowl XLII Photo: Sarah Philipp

The Unicorns’ special teams mishaps continued on the ensuing kick-return as the returner put his knee down on the one-yard line, putting a whole lot of green space in front of Schwäbisch Hall. The Monarchs again got the ball back in great position and creeped ahead 20-19 with another field-goal.

Now was the Unicorns time to bring the championship home for the fifth time. But on one of the very first plays, Hennessey tries to hit his man Rutenbeck on a one-on-one post against defensive back Jonas Gacek. Gacek leaps over Rutenbeck and snags the ball away from him in an athletic display to all but seal the win for the Monarchs with only 4:50 left in the fourth.

Starting from the 20-yard line, Whaley went to work, chipping away at the clock and keeping the chains moving. Samuels then hit Radim Kalous on an out-route that looked to be picked, but the defender overshot it and Kalous ran in for the score. Whaley got the two-point making it a two-score lead, putting the game out of reach and crowning the Monarchs the 2021 GFL champions.

The 2021 Dresden team will go down as one of the best in recent years, and they have capped it all off fittingly.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.