German Football League opening weekend: 5 key takeaways 

After a long off-season, the German Football League finally kicked off its 2022 season over the weekend. Despite the fact that the European League of Football dominated the headlines this off-season, fan interest in the GFL is still very high. The league also announced a new streaming partner, logo, and several corporate changes in advance of the 2022 season helping to grow Germany’s longstanding football league. 

On the field, all 16 teams suited up, producing several nail-biting games along with plenty of highlights showcasing young talents. All in all, it was a strong 2022 debut, with the German Football League seeming to be more competitive than in years past. 

Let’s take a look at five key takeaways from week one.

Potsdam Royals knock off defending champion Dresden Monarchs

Last year, the Royals assembled an impressive roster of both German and international players and made it all the way to the semifinals. This year, they’ve reloaded, bringing in another large group of new players, looking to make this year different.

Led by a fierce defense and new running back in Karri Pajarinen, the Royals earned a hard-fought win at home against the defending champion Dresden Monarchs. Pajarinen ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns behind a physical offensive line, helping Potsdam claim the 24-21 win. 

Adding insult to injury, the Monarchs starting quarterback Austyn Carta Samuels injured his knee and announced via social media he will require surgery. The Monarchs will have to scramble to find a replacement passer as they look to regroup for the marathon GFL season. 

Kiel ties New Yorker Lions 14-14 in Braunschweig

After an uncharacteristic 5-6 season, a new look Lions team was eager to cement themselves back in the title contender category. Their opponent in week one featured a Baltic Hurricanes team that beat them last year yet finished the season with a 2-8 record. 

In a defensive battle, the Lions took a 14-0 lead in the fourth quarter, only to have the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes scratch and claw their way back in the game, with a long touchdown pass, and a clutch forced fumble. 

Kiel had the best chance of winning the game as they marched down the field reaching the Lions 34-yard line with under a minute remaining. However, a clutch fourth-down stop by the Lions kept the score even. Braunschweig’s new quarterback Jacob Parks heaved a Hail Mary on the game’s final play that was almost caught off of a deflection before the ball bounced off the ground.

Epic Battle of Berlin

The Berlin Adler led by head coach Shuan Fatah are back in the GFL after a five-year absence. In an epic return, the Adler defeated crosstown rivals, the Berlin Rebels in an exciting 43-35 shootout.

Adler receiver Max Zimmerman was the star of the show putting up 275 yards and three touchdowns and nine catches. The Adler offense ended the game with 575 total yards as quarterback Zachary Cavanaugh put on a show throwing for 450 yards on the day. 

To their credit the Rebel’s offense kept up well as quarterback Donavon Isom threw for four touchdowns, connecting with receiver Nigel Westbrooks for 189 yards and two scores.

Fans are already circling the rematch of these two crosstown rivals later this season. 

GFL’s majestic Unicorns

Schwäbisch Hall dominated their competition in their season opener defeating last year’s semifinalist, the Saarland Hurricanes, 48-21. New quarterback Reilly Hennessy looked sharp finding long time Unicorns receiver Tyler Rutenbeck and NFL tight end Mortiz Böhringer early and often. Big plays on offense were complimented by a solid run game as the Unicorns averaged 3.8 yards a carry.

Defensively, coach Jordan Neuman’s squad flew to the ball holding the Hurricanes to only 1.4 per carry. A stacked secondary was able to force three interceptions as the Unicorns rolled to a blowout win. Unsurprisingly to most GFL fans, the Unicorns look like the favorites once again in the GFL South, and perhaps the entire league. 

My Spider senses are tingling

For the first time in their history, the Straubing Spiders are in the GFL. In their debut the Spiders visited the Allgäu Comets in what could be considered a new Bavarian rivalry. 

Led by former Comets quarterback Raleigh Yedell, the Spiders went back and forth trading big play after big play with Allgäu, before coming out of top 43-42. In a game that featured 895 total yards and 12 touchdowns, Straubing’s new running back Lamar Carswell stole the show.

The former DIII All American rushed for 214 yards and one touchdown while adding another 33 yards and one score through the air. Besides creating explosive plays, Carswell was able to pick up the tough yards and milk the clock sealing the Spiders first-ever GFL victory. 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football