The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (16-0) will attempt to win their second straight German Bowl title and fourth overall, and go undefeated for the second year in a row, when they take on the Frankfurt Universe (14-2) who are playing in the German Bowl for the first time in their history.
Schwäbisch Hall reached the championship game by beating the Cologne Crocodiles in the quarterfinals, and then downing the Dresden Monarchs in the semifinals.
The Universe’s road to the final took them through a rain-drenched win over the Berlin Rebels,and then a double overtime victory over the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions.
In the first German title game since 1981 in which both teams are from the GFL South division, although defenses will rule, these two offenses have proven they can score. The Unicorns had the highest scoring offense in Germany averaging 38.6 points per game while totaling 379 yards a game. Frankfurt was fourth with just over 33 points scored a contest.
AFI has taken a look at the defenses of both teams. Now let’s examine the offenses.
Unicorns quarterback Marco Ehrenfried is playing in his sixth German final so the pressure of this game is not new to him. He guided his team to victory last year after suffering three straight losses in the title game and has looked just as steady in 2018. He was fifth in the GFL in passing yardage with his 3,588 yards overall, averaging 224.2 yards. He threw for 35 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions, second best in the country. His counterpart, Andrew Ellfers has played five fewer games but his numbers are impressive and he averaged an almost identical 222.4 yards per game for a total of 2,446 yards while throwing 24 touchdown passes against only eight interceptions. Ellfers joined Frankfurt midway through June in time for the sixth game and brought stability to the offense.
Both teams have seen injuries sideline key receivers during the season. However, the receiving numbers are almost identical anyway with the Unicorns having a slight edge averaging nine yards a game more while Frankfurt has scored two more touchdowns in 16 games, 41 compared to 39. Tyler Rutenbeck, Nate Robitaille and Christian Hafels are the top three receivers for Schwäbisch Hall and all are healthy for this game. For the Universe, of the leading receivers, only David Giron is a question mark. He did not play in either of the playoff games. Tim Thomas had an outstanding game against the New Yorker Lions with 107 yards in receiving and led the team this season while George Robinson is as steady, and dangerous a receiver as their is.
Here again, these two teams are almost deadlocked in another offensive category, rushing. The Unicorns have rushed for 1,991 yards or, 124.4 yards a game, good for fifth in Germany. Meanwhile, Frankfurt was seventh best with 110.8 yards on average. In the last three games, Danny Washington has been a go-to running back for Schwäbisch Hall and gained most of his yardage then. CJ Okpalobi has been a workhorse as well for the Unicorns after joining the team in early September so Frankfurt’s front seven will see a lot of him today.
For the Universe, running backs Andreas Betza, and Joe Bergeron, have led the way with Betza gaining 741 yards on the season and Bergeron 510. However,, against Schwäbisch Hall this season, they have both struggled. They will need to find a way around the Unicorns front seven for Frankfurt to have a chance in this game.
Since Frankfurt was promoted to the German Football League in 2016,, these two teams have played each other six times with the Unicorns winning each one of those encounters. However, the margin of victory has usually been one touchdown although in the second game this year, Schwäbisch Hall had to come from behind for a 12-9 win.
Will the Universe gain their revenge today, as they did against the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in the semifinals? Or will Schwäbisch Hall prove again that they have the finest football program in Germany?