Germany: Allgäu Comets “Flying Circus” sets records, creates stir

Not only did the Allgäu Comets win their first game of the German Football League season Sunday against the Ingolstadt Dukes 52-42, but they made history doing so, setting records and stirring up a firestorm of interest.

Comets quarterback Justin Sottilare broke his own German Football League record for pass attempts in the game by throwing 84 passes. His previous record was 69 when he was playing for the Saarland Hurricanes in 2014.

Allgäu head coach Stan Bedwell was not exaggerating when he said he was introducing a “Flying Circus” to the Comets this year.  Between Sottilare and backup Calvin Stitt, his quarterbacks attempted 85 passes completing 50 for 561 yards in passing. Between the two of them they threw seven touchdown passes. The week before in a 55-14 loss to the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns, Sottilare completed 28 of 53 for 273 yards while Stitt attempted seven.

That’s 145 pass attempts in two games, an average of 72.5 a game. At that pace, the Comets will have attempted 1,015 passes in their 14 game GFL season this year. They are averaging 417 yards passing a game. The highest average of any team in the past 10 years in Germany was 343 yards a game by the Unicorns in 2011.

As a team, the Comets have rushed a total of 27 times for 17 yards. Wide receiver Jonathan Gihl is the leading rusher with 15 yards.

People have taken notice.

The German Football League went so far as to compare Sottilare’s accomplishment with other distinguished professional and college quarterbacks:


101 – Tom Lensch, Dana College (NAIA), 2004
94 – JJ Harp, Eastern New Mexico (Div II), 2009
89 – Connor Halliday, Washington State (Div I-FBS), 2013
85 – Jeremy Moses, Stephen F. Austin (Div I-FCS), 2008
84 – Evan Jones, Carthage (Div. III) 2009; Mackenzie McGrady, Alma (Div. III) 2009;  McCallum Foote, Middlebury (Div. III), 2013 84, 84, 84, 84, 2013
83 – Drew Brees, Purdue (Div I-FBS), 1998

70 – Drew Bledsoe, New England (NFL),1994
69 – Vinny Testaverde, NY Jets, 2000
68 – George Blanda, Houston Oilers, 1964
68 – Jon Kitna, Cincinnatti Bengals, 2001
67 – Brian Briese, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2008

65 – Kent Austin, Saskatchewan Roughriders, 1991
64 – Anthony Calvillo, Las Vegas Posse, 1995
63 – Doug Flutie, BC Lions, 1991

According to Bedwell, the aerial offense has sparked plenty of interest, not only among other teams and fans but among quarterbacks and receivers.

“I have received at least 30 private messages from receivers mostly, to come and play here if anyone leaves or gets hurt. A few quarterbacks have also expressed their interest.”

Needless to say, the team still has to win, a fact of which Bedwell is all too aware.

“It will take our offense time to get used to the fact that we play a little differently this year. This was only our second game and with no preseason games, Justin and the rest of the offense are learning as they go. But they are learning fast and it is exciting to see.”

Sottilare was not too concerned when asked about his arm after throwing so many passes:

“My arm is doing alright. I’m ready for another round”

Next up for the Comets is the Stuttgart Scorpions this Sunday, May 20.

Photos: Shakral Photography

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.