The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, Europe #1, and the number one seed in the German Football League, will face the Dresden Monarchs, Europe #7, and the number two seed, in the first of two semifinal games Saturday, September 29 in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany.
The 15-0 Unicorns remain the favorites after another winning their quarterfinal game with relative ease, beating the Cologne Crocodiles 37-14 in the quarterfinals and stay undefeated this season. In fact, this team has not lost a game since German Bowl XXXVIII in 2016 when they were beaten by the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions
Schwäbisch Hall has been a machine this season and in their final regular season game blanked the Kirchdorf Wildcats 40-0. They had some trouble against a desperate Marburg Mercenaries team late in the season finally downing Marburg 34-31 after trailing in the fourth quarter. A month ago, they overpowered the Allgau Comets 65-23 and the week before also displayed their firepower in handing the Ingolstadt Dukes a 44-13 thrashing. They notched a gritty 12-9 come-from-behind win over the Frankfurt Universe in August.
The Unicorns have the top offense in the German Football League averaging almost 40 points a game, and the second best defense giving up just 11.5.
Schwäbisch Hall quarterback Marco Ehrenfried was the 5th leading passer in the GFL having thrown for 3,352 yards . He has a corps of excellent receivers including Tyler Rutenbeck who had 195 yards receiving and two touchdowns in the quarterfinal win over Cologne. Nathanial Robitaille has returned to the lineup and had 686 yards and 10 TDs on the season. Running back CJ Okpalobi had nine carries last week for 60 yards while Danny Washington also carried the ball nine times, for 47 yards.
This weekend though, they will face one of their stiffest tests of the season when they take on the Monarchs. The Unicorns have been truly challenged only three times this season. They defeated the Frankfurt Universe twice by close scores, 17-7 and 12-9 and then were pushed to the limit by theMarburg Mercenaries winning 34-31.
Dresden took care of the Allgäu Comets in the quarterfinals, whipping them 51-19. This team has proven they can overcome obstacles themselves and have taken a measure of revenge on the two teams who defeated them during the year. They downed the Berlin Rebels 20-18 late in the season to avenge a loss earlier in the season and then they played the New Yorker Lions to a tough 28-28 tie on the last regular season game of the year, to partially make up for a 44-24 loss on June 23.
The Monarchs have really come together in the last half of the season and look impressive with the top receiver in the GFL, Mitchell Paige and the leading tackler in AJ Wentland.
This is the seventh straight year that Dresden has qualified for post season play in Germany. The Monarchs have reached the final once (2013), the semifinals four times (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016) and the quarterfinals once (2017).
The Monarchs have won their last six games and looked impressive so far in 2018. They have the third highest scoring offense in Germany averaging 36.2 points a game and the defense is fifth allowing 20.5.
Trenton Norvell of the Dresden Monarchs was the 2nd leading passer in Germany with 3,901 yards and a league best 45 TDs. His leading receiver is Mitchell Paige who led all receivers in Germany and has caught 120 passes for 1,879 yards and a league-leading 23 TDs.
Monarchs linebacker AJ Wentland was a tackling machine and in the last six games he has recorded 70 tackles. In the two games against the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions, he totaled 40 tackles. He finished the regular season in the GFL as the leading tackler by a wide margin with 187 tackles in 14 games.
Both teams are entering the game relatively healthy. This one is a toss up. Will the Unicorns return to the final for the fifth straight year or will Dresden reach the title game for the first time since 2013?
Watch the game live here. Dresden Monarchs @Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, Sept. 29, 5p (11a ET)