This may be the most anticipated game of the playoffs as the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns host the Dresden Monarchs in a rematch of the 2014 semifinal game which the Unicorns won in a thriller 33-27.
Saturday September 26,
Schwabisch Hall Unicorns v. Dresden Monarchs
In a rematch of last year’s semifinals, the Dresden Monarchs will travel to Schwäbisch Hall to face the Unicorns. Both teams dominated their quarterfinal opponents and with two of the top three running backs in Germany this season, plus potent offenses, this game will be fun to watch.The Unicorn’s Christian Rycraw averaged 111.2 yards and 8.23 yards a carry this season, but Dresden running back Donald Russell was right ahead of him averaging 111.4 yards and 9.7 yards per carry. This was the first season of football for both running backs in Germany. Russells’s backup is Trevar Deed, a veteran of the football wars in Germany. He has played for Dresden for two seasons but three years ago, playing for the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes in the German Bowl and facing the Unicorns, he scored two touchdowns in the first half only to leave the game with a leg injury and watch as the Unicorns beat them in a thriller 56-53.
The Unicorns and Monarchs were one and two in offense in Germany this season with the Unicorns averaging 49 points a game and Dresden at 42. Dresden had the second best defense giving up only 14.2 points per game while Schwäbisch Hall was fourth at 16.5. The Unicorns were tougher against the run though allowing just 85 yars a game while Dresden gave up 141 yards every game. It is far tougher to throw against Dresden though as they allowed only 133 yards of passing per game as compared to the Unicorns 180.
Unicorn quarterback Marco Ehrenfried (also Team Germany’s quarterback) is extremely efficient, and given time will find his receivers. The key, according to one coach, is to get pressure on him early. He has completed 235 of 343 passes this year for 3,886 yards and 50 touchdowns. Monarch linebackers Damien Donaldson and Daniel Stechbarth along with Quade Chappuis will have their work cut out for them.Dresden signal caller Jake Medlock is new to football in Europe having only arrived midway through this season. Nevertheless he threw for a respectable 1,428 yards and 19 touchdowns in his eight games with a league-leading completion rate of 73.4%, to complement the Monarchs powerful running attack.
His favorite target has been Jan Hilgenfeldt. In the quarterfinal against Stuttgart, he had 133 yards in receptions and three touchdowns.
The Unicorn secondary is led by Cody Pastorino who had five interceptions on the year and another one in last week’s quarterfinals against Hamburg. His counterpart for Dresden, Damien Donaldson, was the top tackler in the quarterfinals against Stuttgart with nine tackles and he too had a pick.
This one is a toss up. Schwäbisch Hall’s potent offense scores early averaging almost three touchdowns in the first quarter all season. They force teams to play catchup football which is tough to do against such a high scoring offense. But with Dresden’s running attack they will have to find a way to stop Russell and Deed. This will be a game to watch.