LIVE STREAM & PREVIEW: Dresden Faces Stuttgart in German Quarterfinals

German Football League Quarterfinal German Football League Quarterfinal
Dresden Monarchs (10-2) v. Stuttgart Scorpions (10-4)

John Leijten, head coach of the Dresden Monarchs is heading into his quarterfinal matchup against the Stuttgart Scorpions well aware of the perils of the playoffs.

Last year the team made it to the semifinals losing a heartbreaker to the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns. His plans this year go beyond that.

Germany - Dresden v Stuttgart - Medlock-Potts1

Dresden improved to 10-2 this year,  finishing second in the GFL North. The team gained momentum as the season progressed defeating the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes late in the year handily. Quarterback Jake Medlock has seven games under his belt after replacing Clay Belton and has thrown for 1,246 yards and 15 touchdowns. But more importantly he connects on more of his passes than anyone in Germany with a 73% completion rate. He has an efficiency rating of 187.3. And he can scramble having rushed for 237 yards and eight touchdowns.

Now add Donald Russell’s rushing into the mix and you have a formidable offense. Russell carried the ball 126 times for 1,194 yards and 16 touchdowns. In other words he averaged 9.2 yards a carry. Almost a first down each time he touched the ball.

And if he goes down Trevar Deed steps in. Deed averaged 8.6 yards a carry when asked to carry the football.

Germany - Dresden - Russell4

Donald Russell

Monarch receiver Guillaume Rioux, although nursing an injury following the World Championships which forced him to miss five games, has still performed at a high level and averaged 78 yards a game. His teammate Jan Hilgenfeldt has also played well in 2015 with 54 receptions for 824 yards and 10 touchdowns.

One of the surprises of the season has been the play of the offensive line including Finland’s Arttu Tennberg at center and Phillip Most, who stepped in at right tackle replacing injured starter Aaron Wahl and who has been outstanding. In fact, the entire offensive line has kept Medlock protected and opened holes for Russell and Deed.

Dresden’s defensive unit has played outstanding all season and is rated 2nd only behind the New Yorker Lions. The defensive secondary in particular has been superb allowing only 125 yards passing a game, tops in Germany. Led by Damien Donaldson and Trevar Deed, they give opposing quarterbacks fits. The front seven plays as one without not one player standing out although linebacker Stechbarth deserves mention as the 10th leading tackler in the league.

The Stuttgart Scorpions enter the playoffs with a totally different offense than what they started the year with. With the departure of Tom Schneider, head coach Jemil Hamiko was forced to make a decision so he elevated Dylan Potts to starting quarterback and now the offense is scoring an average almost 36 points per game. Since taking over as the starting quarterback in mid June for Schneider, Potts has become one of the top 10 rushers and passers in Germany. He has thrown for 1,826 yards and 17 touchdowns since June and rushed for 943 yards and another 13 touchdowns.

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Jermaine Guynn

Linebacker Jermaine Guynn who also steps in at running back is second on the team in rushing from the running back position with a total of 356 yards for the year. Running back Steffen Haenelt has been an ideal complement rushing for 443 yards. The Scorpions receiving corps, including Fabian Weigel, Daniel Balazovic and Jan Eisenbraun, has caught 2,972 yards in passes from two different starting quarterbacks this year.

Stuttgart enters the game with the top rushing defense in the GFL giving up no more than 35 yards rushing every game. They adopt a swarming defense with no one player dominating. In fact they do not have a single player in the top 50 in tackles and yet defensive lineman Simon Gavanda has recorded 10 sacks on the year. In fact, the Scorpions defensive line – Sergey Souleymanov, Jermaine Guynn, Corey Chapman and Simon Gavanda – is deceptively quick and have a reputation as one of the best units in Germany.

Watch for turnovers and red zone success

Two key categories that could be crucial in this game are turnovers and red zone success. The Dresden Monarchs lead the league in forcing turnovers which are a key in any game. However, Stuttgart’s offense is deadly once they get within 20 yards of the end zone. Keep an eye out for both these factors. They could make the difference.

Dresden Monarchs v. Stuttgart Scorpions

Kickoff is Sunday September 20, 2:30 PM (8:30 AM EDT)

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.