German Football League kicks off 2018 season

The 16-team German Football League kicks off the 2018 season, its 40th, this weekend with five games.

The longest season in Europe, which stretches from now until mid-October, will see each team play a total of 14 games. The GFL winds up on October 13 with German Bowl XL in Berlin. This means that the German Bowl winner will end up playing a total of 17 games.

Favorites to win the German Bowl title would have to be the defending champions and number #1-ranked Schwabisch Hall Unicorns. The Unicorns defeated the four-time champions, the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in a thrilling German Bowl XXXIX blocking a last second field goal to secure third German title.

For the first time in five years, the New Yorker Lions enter the new season as challengers for the title and with new quarterback Jadrian Clark they look poised for another serious run with head coach Troy Tomlin back on the sidelines.

The GFL North which includes, in addition to the perennial winners, the Lions, the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes, Cologne Crocodiles, Dresden Monarchs, Berlin RebelsHildesheim Invaders, Hamburg Huskies, and newcomers the Potsdam Royals, may well see its most competitive season in many years.

New Yorker Lions QB Jadrian Clark Photo: Eric Lancelle

Both Kiel and Dresden finished with 10-4 records in 2017 and despite losing their head coaches, look strong again for the new season. Both teams have been in the playoffs for the past five years and could well be there again. The Berlin Rebels pushed the Unicorns to overtime before succumbing in their quarterfinal matchup in 2017.

The Hamburg Huskies went on a late-season winning streak, winning four in a row including a season-ending victory over the Hurricanes. They will be in the mix again. The two wild card entries are the Hildesheim Invaders who are looking to improve on their 3-11 record in 2017, their first year in the GFL, and the newly-promoted Potsdam Royals. The Royals looked impressive in the GFL2 last season roaring to an unbeaten 14-0 season before crushing the Berlin Adler in a two-game relegation series.

In the GFL South, the Unicorns will be challenged by the Frankfurt Universe, despite the financial uncertainty surrounding the team. Frankfurt looked intimidating in their 40-9 Big6 victory over the Amsterdam Crusaders and with the stingiest defense in the league in 2017, look to challenge for the German title in 2018. The Universe pushed the New Yorker Lions in their GFL semifinal, only losing in a heartbreaker 23-21. Under new head coach Brian Caler, this could well be Frankfurt’s year.

Frankfurt QB Steve Cluley Photo: Carsten-Wolf.

The Marburg Mercenaries were the most improved team in Germany in 2017, finishing third in the GFL South with an 8-6 record. They lost in the quarterfinals to the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes but have made enough changes to create a buzz around the squad including the return of exciting running back Silas Nacita, who has been among the top three rushers in Germany for the past two seasons.

The Allgäu Comets may have made the most changes following a disappointing season in 2017 which saw them fall short of the playoffs for the first time in three years. With a new head coach in Stan Bedwell and promises of an aerial circus, the Comets look to bring excitement to the GFL South.Bedwell has a track record of success as a head coach so don’t be surprised to see Allgäu among the challengers for the crown in the South.

Stuttgart opened the 2017 season with promised but fell to a 4-10 record and are determined to improve in 2018.

The Ingolstadt Dukes were the new team in the South in 2017 but surprised everyone with a 7-7 record and a quarterfinal appearance where they lost to the Lions. However, with the changes the team has made they are looking to battle for the playoffs again in 2018. The Dukes lost a preseason game to the Berlin Rebels 23-13 and showed promise.

Ingolstadt Dukes QB Nelson Hughes

The Munich Cowboys are led by head coach Garren Holley, and are looking to turn over a new leaf. They’ve signed running back Darrell Lynn Tate II whose turned heads across Europe for the past four season in Serbia, Hungary, and Germany.

The newest member of the GFL South is the Kirchdorf Wildcats who take the place of the Saarland Hurricanes, the team they knocked out of the GFL in the relegation playoffs. They will have a tough time matching the performance of last year’s newcomers, the Dukes but

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