The Dresden Monarchs head to Schwäbisch Hall, Germany to do battle with the defending champion and unbeaten Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in the 2019 German Football League semifinals.
This will mark the fifth time since 2014, that the Unicorns and Monarchs will face each other in the GFL semifinal round.
So far, Schwäbisch Hall has won every one of those games advancing to the German Bowl each year. In last year’s game, the Unicorns prevailed 23-7.
The Unicorns will be looking to extend their 49 game winning streak which stretches all the way back to October 10, 2016 when Schwäbisch Hall was defeated 31-20 in German Bowl XXXVIII.
The Monarchs will be facing the top offensive team in Germany in terms of points and yardage. Schwäbisch Hall has averaged 48.3 points and 440.4 yards a game while giving up 13.3 and 258.1, both among the top three marks in the GFL.
While Dresden does not boast the same high-powered offense, they have the best defense against the pass which they proved last week in the quarterfinal win over the Marburg Mercenaries in limiting the league’s top quarterback, Marburg’s Jake Sullivan, to 208 yards passing.
This could be a duel of quarterbacks. Jadrian Clark of the Unicorns versus Dresden QB Glen Cuiellette.
Over the 15 games Clark has played this season, including the quarterfinal win over Berlin, he has thrown for 3,964 yards and 47 TDs against only 9 interceptions. In the playoff victory over the Rebels he threw for 375 yards and 5 TDs. This is Clark’s second straight season in the playoffs. He guided the New Yorker Lions to the semifinals in 2018. Cuiellette. on the other hand, is appearing in the playoffs for the first time. He threw for 276 yards and 3 TDs against Marburg and did enough for the win. He only started five games in the regular season but won the last two and then the playoff game. However, Dresden’s secondary allowed only 13 passing TDs and 11 rushing TDs all year. Still, Clark has the edge playing behind an offensive line that gave up fewer sacks (19 compared to 26) and with more sure-handed targets to throw to.
The Unicorns run game, while not having any superstar backs, is second in the country averaging 158.6 yards a game. Maurice Schüle is their leading rusher and against Berlin last week he had 15 carries for 74 yards and 1 TD. He will be facing a defense that gives up 123.3 yards a game.
Monarchs RB Glen Toonga was the 5th leading rusher in the GFL and last week against Marburg he rushed for 142 yards and 1 TD. He will face a tougher defensive front seven today as the Unicorns allow 71 yards a game, fourth best in Germany.
Clark’s receiving corps is formidable and is led by Nate Robitaille who was the 3rd leading receiver in Germany this season. Last week, he had 166 yards receiving against the Rebels and 2 TDs. Right behind him is teammate Tyler Rutenbeck who had another outstanding season with 1,228 yards receiving and 21 TDs.
Dresden has the league’s top receiver in KeVonn Mabon who led the league in receiving yardage with 1,680 during the regular season and in last week’s win over Berlin he had 112 yards and 1 TD. However, the joker in this game could be newly-signed Italian WR Jordan Bouah who had 103 yards and 2 TDs last week. Bouah’s blazing speed will definitely stretch the Unicorns secondary.
Defensively, Schwabisch Hall puts pressure on quarterbacks and have the second leading total in the country with 35 sacks. On the other hand, the Monarchs gave up the third fewest sacks, 15. This will definitely be a battle of the trenches.
Led by safety Goran Zec, who topped the team in tackles, the defense includes familiar names like Cody Pastorino, Devin Benton and Nick Alfieri.
Dresden’s AJ Wentland, is, as everyone knows, a tackling machine. He led the league for the second year in a row with 197 and last week recorded 15. He simply has a nose for the ball. Teammate Florian zur Neiden had 90 tackles on the year and last week recorded 9
Although Dresden is due for a win in the semifinals – the last time they reached the final was 2013 – they will be in tough today. The Unicorns don’t make many mistakes and with a veteran crew and a coaching staff that has been here many times before, they won’t make many today.