Jordan Neuman, HC for Europe’s top team, getting ready for new season

As Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns head coach Jordan Neuman celebrated his second straight German Bowl championship title, after his team beat the Frankfurt Universe in a thriller, he couldn’t help but compare it to his first title as a head coach.

Neuman’s Unicorns had defeated the Frankfurt Universe in an epic battle which seemed to be a continuation of the edge-of-your-seat thrillers the two teams have engaged in for the past three seasons.

The feeling was different from his first, the year before.

n 2017, Neuman, in his first year as head coach of the Unicorns, had finally vanquished their championship final nemesis, the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions after four straight defeats, and it was Neuman’s first season as a head coach.

“This one was different, almost familiar. We have played Frankfurt seven times in the past three years and each and every one of those games has been a tough battle, in an ongoing war. There was a huge build up to this game, starting way back in 2016. They had an incredibly talented team and were very well coached. The storylines for this game were amazing.

The Unicorns, from tiny Schwäbisch Hall, a town of 35,000 in southern Germany, had now won two in a row and the celebration filled the town square to overflowing.

But Neuman was already in a hurry right after the party.

“Every other team in the league but one had a head start in recruiting for 2019. I had no time to relax. I was back working that week.”

His first order of business came from an unexpected quarter however. The quarterback he had relied on both as head coach and previously as offensive coordinator, Marco Ehrenfried, informed Neuman that he intended to hang up his cleats to pursue his studies.

“He kind of caught me by surprise. I had heard rumblings, but ever the professional that he is, he waited until after the season before approaching me about it.”

Ehrenfried had led the Unicorns to the German Bowl final five years in a row, winning the last two.

“Marco was always able to pull out a play for the win. In this last championship, it was a goalline pass for a touchdown.”

Now, with the leader of the offense suddenly gone, Neuman’s first offseason recruiting move was to fill that huge void. And he did with the signing of former Braunschweig New Yorker Lions quarterback Jadrian Clark.

“We started looking right away and got lucky. Jadrian was simply a great fit for us.”

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The signing of Jadrian Clark was only the start of an offseason that is filled with work.

“Not only do we have to work on the roster but we spend an incredible amount of time on schemes and techniques. We will be holding a coaching clinic as well for all the the Unicorns club coaches, from the youngest youth teams and on up.”

“I was very proud of the team. Everyone stayed positive and met each challenge. The players and coaches were buying into the system and as the challenges and adversity mounted, they kept up their great attitude.”

The native of Fort Worth, Texas has bought into the unique Unicorns system. A system built by his mentor and former head coach Siegfried Gehrke. 

The Unicorns do not have a single paid German player. And no paid European imports. They will have six American imports, four on defense and two on offense and the rest are Germans from the surrounding area as well as European imports who are not paid but are welcome to play for Schwäbisch Hall. Most live within roughly a 120 minute radius.  And they mostly practice only twice a week.

“These guys play for the love of the game, pure and simple. When I speak to German players who are interested in coming here, they get a surprise when I tell them we do not pay. We do recruit from other European countries but do not pay those imports either. You could say everyone on this team outside the six imports, is truly homegrown.”

Schwäbisch Hall has won back-to-back German championships twice since in the past decade (2011/2012 & 2017/2018).

Dating back to 1979, only three other teams have threepeated, the Berlin Adler, Hamburg Blue Devils and Braunschweig, who have done it three times.

Can the Unicorns pull off a three-peat in 2019, still relying on a tight budget in a small market?

Only time will tell, but it will be fun to watch as they embark on their quest for three in a row.

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