German Bowl XXXVIII Promises To Be Epic

German Bowl XXXVIII this Saturday October 8th between the 3-time defending champion New Yorker Lions and the undefeated Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns is certain to be epic.

This is the third straight year these two teams face each other in Germany’s championship contest and the sixth consecutive year that one or the other has played in the final. TheLions have won the past three while Schwäbisch Hall captured the title in 2011 and 2012.

The Unicorns offensive juggernaut rolled up 753 points in the 2016 season in 16 games (including both playoff games) which is a stunning 47.1 points per game average. The Lions were not far behind scoring 615 points in total which works out to 38.4 points a game.

But both teams boast tough defenses and can rely on them to win games when needed. The Unicorns kept the vaunted Dresden Monarchs offense in check in the semifinals beating them 35-26. Meanwhile, Braunschweig held the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes to 21 points, only seven in the second half, in their semifinal clash two weeks ago.

The matchups in this game are many.

Coaching matchup

The two head coaches, Troy Tomlin for the New Yorker Lions and Schwäbisch Hall’s veteran Siegfried Gehrke are facing each other for the fourth time in a championship final. Tomlin’s Lions have won the previous three, German Bowl XXXVI (2014), German Bowl XXXVII (2015) and Eurobowl 2015. Nevertheless, the Unicorns have crept closer with each game.

Since 2013, when Tomlin took over the Lions, they have a record of 58-3-2. The Unicorns with Gehrke at the helm have gone 56-8-1 during the same time span.

Gehrke is no stranger to success in the German title game. His Unicorns won the championship in both 2011 and 2012.

Quarterback matchup

The two quarterbacks are in the same spot with three championship games behind them. The Lions Casey Therriault has the edge over Marco Ehrrenfried having beaten him three straight times. But again, Ehrenfried’s Unicorns seem to have edged closer and closer.

marco-ehrenfried-vs-casey-therriault

Running back matchup

Braunschweig New Yorker Lions running back Chris Smith has developed into the feature back for coach Tomlin and his punishing running style will keep Schwäbisch Hall’s front seven busy all game. The Lions offensive line have a reputation as one of the top units in Europe.

Anthony Bilal of the Unicorns, while not boasting the gaudy numbers having played four fewer games, can be just as effective.bilal-vs-smith

Receiver matchup

At wide receiver for Schwäbisch Hall, Patrick Donahue has found ways to help his team win while Braunschweig’s Jan Hilgenfeldt has filled the same role. The loss of Anthony Dable has not seemed to hurt the Lions offense as many thought, in part due to the emergence of Hilgenfeldt who transferred over from the Dresden Monarchs in the off season.

Donahue shook off the disappointment of a failed tryout with the Green Bay Packers to again give the Unicorns a consistent push on offense and special teams all year.

donahue-vs-hilgenfeldt

Defensive matchup

Defensively, Braunschweig has an edge giving up just 12.4 points a game and linebacker Sorie Bayoh is one of the keys. The 28-year-old Rutgers University graduate recorded 63 total tackles on the year and had five quarterback sacks. Schwäbisch Hall’s Cody Pastorino gives the secondary stability and makes plays all over the field as evidenced by his team leading 99 tackles.

cody-pastorino-vs-sorie-bayoh

Ultimately, German Bowl XXXVIII features two evenly matched teams, accustomed to finding ways to win with veteran quarterbacks and head coaches who have been here before. Seldom do you see two teams in a final who have both been so consistent.

The game is being on broadcast live on Eurosport from Berlin’s Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark starting at 5:30 PM CET.

You can watch the game online here at Eurosport, however there are restrictions on viewing per location.

Roger Kelly
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.
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