The unbeaten Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (5-0) will play host to the unbeaten Frankfurt Universe (4-0) Sunday, June 3 at Optima Park in Schwäbisch Hall , Germany, in the biggest game of the week in the German Football League.
There is one caveat though. Frankfurt will be without starting quarterback Steve Cluley, who suffered a season-ending injury in the win over the Stuttgart Scorpions last week. In his place will be backup and German national team quarterback, Sonny Weishaupt.
The Universe have announced the signing of Andrew Elffers from Azuza Pacific but he likely will not arrive in time.
The two teams faced each other twice in 2017 with the Unicorns winning both games, the second one 18-14. The Universe suffered the same fate in 2016, their first in the GFL. Schwäbisch Hall beat them both times, each time by a touchdown.
Both the Unicorns and Universe have dominated their opposition so far in 2018. Schwäbisch Hall is averaging 45.2 points per game while allowing 9.4. The Universe is not far behind with a 40.5 scoring average while giving up 8.25.
The two head coaches know each other well. Unicorns head coach Jordan Neuman, who took over in 2017, was a long-time assistant and offensive coordinator and has faced Frankfurt head coach Brian Caler many times over the years when he was with the Allgau Comets.
Schwäbisch Hall quarterback Marco Ehrenfried is the third leading passer in the GFL having thrown for 1,379 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has a bevy of excellent receivers led by Tyler Rutenbeck who has 14 catches for 463 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Jerome Manyema has rushed for 242 yards and five touchdowns in four games.
Although Weishaupt has not seen as much playing time this year with Cluley playing so well, in 2017, he threw for 1,523 yards and 21 touchdowns and only three interceptions. His quarterback efficiency rating was third best in Germany. He too has outstanding receivers including David Giron and Tim Thomas. Giron has 410 yards receiving and five touchdowns while Thomas has caught 30 passes for 393 yards and five touchdowns. Running back Anreas Betza, the French national team running back, has rushed for 318 yards and four touchdowns so far in 2018, good for fourth in the GFL. His running mate, Joe Bergeron is right behind him in fifth with 304 yards rushing.
The Universe enter the game as the best rushing team in Germany averaging 191.5 yards per game. They are facing the toughest defense against the run as Schwäbisch Hall only gives up 20.4 yards rushing per game. Frankfurt is next best in that category allowing 31.8.
While the Unicorns have the second best passing offense in the league averaging 308.4 yards per game, Frankfurt boasts the second best passing defense, surrendering 139. The Universe secondary includes former Denver Bronco John Tidwell and Kweishi Brown while Cody Pastorino anchors a Unicorns secondary that has picked off 10 passes so far this year with Pastorino accounting for three of them.
This game will be a treat to watch. Ehrenfried’s veteran savvy gives Schwäbisch Hall the edge but if Weishaupt can play a solid, ball control game and the team can avoid turnovers, he has the weapons around him to win.