ELF: Vikings’ Thomas Schnurrer discusses dominant defensive performance in Championship

Before the European League of Football Championship Game last week, the Vienna Vikings defense knew they had a great challenge ahead of them.  In preparing to match up against the Hamburg Sea Devils offense, they knew that they would have to focus their efforts on containing one man: star running back Glen Toonga. 

The bruising British tailback led the league in rushing by a wide margin, finishing the regular season with 1,468 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.  Not only did they contain him in the Championship Game, they completely shut him down, as Toonga was held to just 26 rushing yards on 16 carries.  This dominant performance was the main reason why the Vikings defeated the top-seeded Sea Devils and took home the ELF crown.

One of the leaders of the Vikings defense, and one of the players who played the biggest role in stopping the Hamburg rushing attack, is linebacker Thomas Schnurrer.  The 28 year-old Austrian had a huge performance in the championship game, registering 14 total tackles and recovering a fumble. 

Schnurrer was asked about the gameplan going into the game:

Well, the gameplan was actually pretty simple. We knew Toonga is one hell of a player and he didn’t have (about) 1700 yards and 27 TDs by accident, so he was the guy to stop. So the gameplan was mostly stopping the run and force them to pass the ball, which we knew isn’t their bread and butter.

The Vikings defense did a great job of shutting down rushes on 1st and 2nd downs, which forced the Hamburg passing offense into 3rd-and-long situations that they were not accustomed to. 


They gave us everything they had and it was a tough fight. But at the end of the day we were the better team and were able to stop them.

Schnurrer joined the Vikings this year in their debut season in the ELF after spending the past eight years with the Graz Giants in the Austrian Football League.  He was a dominant force in that league, as he was named the Defensive Player of the Year four times. 

When asked about the differences between the AFL and the ELF, he said,

The AFL is a great league with great players but the biggest difference is just that the ELF teams have 11 great players on the field whereas there are mostly 5-7 good players in the AFL on the field.  So that’s basically the biggest difference.  In the ELF everybody on the field knows what to do, whereas in the AFL you might have some rookies which haven’t played that much and are inexperienced.

As they jumped up a level of competition, Schnurrer and his fellow Austrians who had played in the AFL did not miss a beat, as the Vikings immediately showed that they were one of the elite American football franchises in Europe.  After a long offseason, they will look to defend their title next year in 2023.

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.