Germany: Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns open at home versus Allgäu Comets

When the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns play their home opener against the Allgäu Comets Saturday, it will be the first time they play at home without longtime head coach Siegfried Gehrke since 1990.

These two teams played each other twice in 2016, with the Unicorns coming away with wins both times including a thrilling 35-34 victory.

Under new head coach Jordan Neuman, the Unicorns had no trouble disposing of the Marburg Mercenaries last week 50-17 and looked much like the same team that played in the German final in 2016.

Quarterback Marco Ehrenfried completed 19 of 28 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns and looked poised. His favorite receiver, 6’9″, 242 lb Aurieus Adegbesan had five catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Unicorns WR Tyler Rutenbeck escaping tacklers last week

The Unicorns are a veteran-laden team led by running back Danny Washington (German national team running back) and defensive back Cody Pastorino. The team finished in the top five of virtually every statistical category in 2016 and look poised to continue the same way.

The Comets open their 2017 season with a different look. The squad has lost 17 players so is in a rebuilding phase. Nevertheless, Cedric Townsend is back at quarterback and Niall Padden at linebacker. Townsend threw for 2,608 yards and 38 touchdown in 2016 and is the key to Allgau’s offense. Padden led the entire league with 145 tackles last season.

Cornerback Colin Barrier returns for his fifth season with Allgau as does wide receiver Christian Hafels who head coach Brian Caler considers one of the best players in Europe. Also starting is 2016 Austrian Football League MVP wide receiver Dario Dobrolevski (Mödling Rangers).

Comets WR Christian Hafels

New additions to the Comets include safety Eric Paopao (Humboldt State, Div. II) who comes from a family with a rich tradition in football.

Brian Caler is candid about his team’s chances after losing 17 players from the 2016 squad.

“As for today… it’s about competing we want go and play a clean and disciplined game and compete from start to finish. We are so young and full of players who are inexperienced . We lost 17 players from the team, due to personal situations, retired, work, or career opportunities. It is truly a rebuilding season for us. We have a lot of new faces in the coaching staff as well. We are optimistic but realistic though to! Just go out play hard, play fast, play fare, and compete on every play. Whatever happens, happens.”

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.