Germany GFL North: Dueling coaches prepare for Royals vs. Crocodiles semifinal

For the first time since 2014, we have an all GFL North playoff matchup for the German Football League’s 2022 season as the league leading Potsdam Royals (11-0) will host the Cologne Crocodiles (8-3) in the GFL semifinals.

This will be the first time that the Royals and Crocodiles will be facing each other in the postseason, with a trip to the German Bowl on the line.

This season, regardless of outcome, has been a journey for both clubs as they have long time head coaches who have both been able to make huge strides for their squads for this season.

Michael Vogt has been with the Potsdam Royals since their founding in 2005 and has been the club’s head coach since 2007. He has seen it all with a very slow climb. When they originally got accepted to the GFL2 in 2010, due to financial issues, the team was forced to withdraw.

They came back in 2012 where they would grind up from as low as the fifth tier of the country, but in 2018 it was finally worth the wait as they would be in their first season as a GFL team.

Vogt’s squad would make the playoffs for the first time a couple of years later in 2021, following a season where they finished second in their division and even got their first playoff victory in a win against the Munich Cowboys, beating them 36-23.. But their run came to an end in the following round against the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns when they lost 28-18 in a hard-fought contest.

This season, Vogt was able to guide his team to arguably the greatest offensive production by any team in league history and became the fourth team since 2000 to have at least one undefeated season.

The Cologne Crocodiles’ head coach on the other hand, David Odenthal has ties to the team going back to when he played for their 2000 German Bowl championship team.

After many years in the GFL’s coaching field for the Cologne Falcons, he was finally able to become a head coach for the Crocodiles in 2013, taking them back to the top league in 2017 for the first time since 2002.

Cologne under Odenthal’s tenure have made the playoffs twice, 2018 and 2021 facing off against the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns and Saarland Hurricanes respectively but ended up losing to both. The Unicorns beat them 37-14 four years ago while last season Saarland surprised coach Odenthal’s squad, downing them 35-16.

For the 2022 season, the Crocodiles have gotten better on all sides of the ball by having their best point differential during Odenthal’s tenure, leading them to where they are now.

Since 2015 when both teams were in GFL2, the two head coaches have faced each other 12 times with Odenthal and the Crocodiles leading the overall series 7-5 although Vogt’s Royals have won the last three, including this year when Potsdam defeated the Crocodiles 50-34.

Cologne Crocodiles @ Potsdam Royals, Sept. 24, 14:00 CET (2 pm, 08:00 am ET)

A recent graduate of Hofstra University in New York. He is currently a sports freelance journalist and podcaster