The defending Austrian champions, the 7-2 Dacia Vienna Vikings, Europe #7, are suddenly in desperate need of a win against the 6-3 Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants Sunday, June 17 when they face them in the final regular season game of the Austrian Football League at Hohe Warte Stadion in Vienna, Austria.
Vienna is holding onto second place in the standings while Graz is third. The two teams met earlier this year and in that game, Vienna came away with a 45-32 win. So Graz needs to win today by at least 14 points to secure second and a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
Vienna’s win in that earlier game was with Garrett Safron playing quarterback.
Safron suffered an injury during the Vikings 25-20 victory over the Modling Rangers in early May and has not played since. At the time of his injury, he was leading the AFL in passing and second in rushing.
After the injury to Safron, the Vikings lost two straight games to the Swarco Raiders and Ljubljana Silverhawks before rebounding to beat the cellar-dwelling Bratislava Monarchs two weeks ago.
Young Austrian quarterback Yannick Mayr has performed admirably as Safron’s replacement and slowly grown into the role. In the win over the Monarchs, he threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for three more. He will have to up his performance even more against the Giants. Still, he has excellent receivers to throw to in Reece Horn, Bernhard Seikovits and Maurice Wappl and with running back Islaam Amadu he definitely has the weapons.
Giants quarterback Robert Gallik has thrown for 1,782 yards and 19 TDs so far in seven games since arriving in early April. The Giants have won six of those seven games and also took revenge for an earlier defeat at the hands of the Modling Rangers, blanking them two weeks ago 36-0.
In other words, Graz is on a roll and playing with momentum. Running back Matthias Kiegerl is now the second leading rusher in the Austria having rushed for 845 yards and 12 TDs.
Defensively, not much separates the two teams. They both have given up an average of 24 points a game. And they are the two top defenses against the run and two of the top four against the pass.
Basically, this is a game that could boil d0wn to how far along Mayr has come in his development. If he can keep his poise under pressure, Vienna has a chance.