Germany: Potsdam Royals emerging as new powerhouse

By Jordan Meneo

The Potsdam Royals have come out swinging this season.

After winning the highest-scoring game of the 2022 German Football League season last week when they beat the Berlin Rebels 81-56, the Royals are an impressive 4-0. They lead the GFL North with eight points and are tied with the GFL South leading Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns for the best record in the league. The most surprising part of this powerhouse though is their journey to GFL dominance.

This is only their third season in Germany’s top league.

Potsdam established its American football club in 2005 and began competing one year later. Having started in Germany’s fifth tier, they were promoted after the 2008 and 2009 seasons. After winning the championship in 2010 in the third tier, Regionalliga Ost, the Royals were offered a spot in the GFL2. However, the club refused the prestigious offer and withdrew.

Potsdam’s Finnish RB Karri Pajarinen

Potsdam football was not heard from again until two years later in 2012. They reentered competitions but were forced to start all over again in the fifth tier. After back-to-back perfect seasons, they once again found themselves in Regionalliga Ost where they won another championship. The club, again, was offered a place in GFL2, except this time they happily accepted the offer. After three years in GFL2, they were promoted to the tier one GFL after a perfect 28-0 season in 2017.

The Royals started their tenure in the highest GFL rather slowly. They ended the year with a 6-8 record sitting at fifth in the standings. In 2019, things were only worse. They wound up sixth with a 4-9-1 record. After a canceled 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Potsdam rebounded with a vengeance in 2021. Despite the late start to the year, the team finished second at 14-6, punching their ticket to the quarterfinals. While making it to the quarterfinals is a big deal, the team was very inconsistent that year. They either blew the doors off teams or simply didn’t show up. But despite this inconsistency, they blew by the Munich Cowboys in the quarterfinals. The club ultimately lost to the Unicorns in the semifinals but were able to hang their hats on an impressive year.

Potsdam head coach Michael Vogt was poised to solve the inconsistency that last year brought. The biggest key to that was finding a real answer to the quarterback position. Their search brought them to Chris Helbig, who they signed in April. The 6’4”, 214-pounder used to play at Southern Utah University (NCAA Div.1, FCS) where he threw for 3,705 yards and 19 touchdowns in just 15 games.

So far, the 24-year-old has looked like the pickup of the offseason. Helbig leads the GFL in passing after Saturday’s performance where he threw for 553 yards and six touchdowns, an outstanding achievement.

The Royals will look to continue this pace as the season continues. Their next game is scheduled for July 2 against the Dresden Monarchs.


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