LIVESTREAM CEFL: Stockholm Mean Machines @ Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, 16:00 CET (4 pm, 10 am EDT)

Sweden’s Stockholm Mean Machines will travel to Germany to take on the defending German titleholders, the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in a Central European Football League quarterfinal clash on Saturday.

The Unicorns, in addition to being Germany’s reigning champions, are also the defending champions of the CEFL Championship, as they won the tournament in both 2022 and 2021.  After winning their first two matchups 58-7 and 35-21 last year, they defeated the Parma Panthers 42-17 in the championship game to earn their second consecutive title.  This year, they will be looking to win a third championship in a row on one of Europe’s biggest stages.  The team earned a first round bye and thus will be playngi their first tournament game.

This will be the first action the Unicorns have seen for quite some time.  Since the conclusion of their German Football League season last fall, many players and coaches have departed the organization and many new ones have arrived in their place.  Key faces from last year’s team such as head coach Jordan Neuman and quarterback Reilly Hennessy left the team to join the European League of Football, as most signed with the Stuttgart Surge.  As such, this Schwäbisch Hall team will have a new identity than that they have had in years past.  It will be interesting to see how the team looks in this international competition.

On the other hand, the Mean Machines earned their place in this quarterfinal by beating Finnish champions, the Kuopio Steelers, by a score of 31-28 two weeks ago.  After falling behind 21-16 at halftime, the team used a big third quarter to propel themselves to the lead and would hold on for victory in the end.  The game had a thrilling conclusion, as the Steelers had the ball deep into Stockholm territory and chose to go for it on 4th down rather than attempting a game tying field goal in the dying seconds.  Despite the victory, Stockholm was actually heavily outgained by Kuopio, as the Steelers had the advantage at 453 yards of offense to 270 for Stockholm.  However, the Mean Machines’ defense was able to make the key stops to prevent the Kuopio offense from lighting up the scoreboard.

Mean Machines head coach Fredrik Pilbäck realizes the odds his team faces today though:

“We understand we are the heavy underdogs. This is a very good team we are playing and it’s at their place in front of their incredible home fans. To have any chance at all, we will have to play perfect without making mistakes while staying away from penalties.”

The game is set to kick off at 4:00 local time. 

Will the new-look Unicorns begin their quest for a threepeat, or will the Swedish team pull off the upset?

Stockholm Mean Machines @ Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, 16:00 CET (4 pm, 10 am EDT)

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.