Potsdam Royals and Dresden Monarchs battle in final week of regular season for first place in the North

This Sunday the number one Dresden Monarchs will play the number two Potsdam Royals to decide who will take the crown in the North. With Potsdam sitting at 7-2 and the Monarchs 8-1 the Royals will need to win by more than 16 points – after Dresden won the first regular season contest – if they are to dethrone the Monarchs.

The Potsdam season started with a bang, with two massive 50+ point victories over the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes, leaving the rest of the league asking if Potsdam were for real. The defense held firm against, what would turn out to be, a dangerous Kiel passing attack, but it was Potsdam running back Jake Mayon who stole the show. The 5’7″, 185 pound Mayon ran for an unbelievable 424 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 11.5 yards per carry, in just two games.

In their third game of the season against the Cologne Crocodiles, they proved just how good they are as they defeated one of the better teams in the GFL…convincingly. The stage was then set for the Royals to take on the explosive Dresden Monarchs offense led by quarterback Kyle Carta-Samuels Jr. This was a hurdle that Potsdam would fall down at however as the high-octane offense of Dresden proved too much for a run-heavy team to keep up with losing 31 – 15.

This is where the apparent Achilles heel of Potsdam presented itself. Although they have a stellar defense and ground game, the team has struggled to pass the ball when the game called for it – most recently seen in the loss to New Yorker Lions Braunschweig. The team is ranked 12th in passing, above only Frankfurt Universe and Berlin Rebels. Something that perhaps management recognized early and brought it gunslinging American-Italian QB Giovanni Rescigno just before the first Cologne game. Both Rescigno and original QB PJ Settles have shared time behind center, often switching intermittently throughout games. But if one position requires consistency, it’s the quarterback and Recigno has fared little better than Settles throwing the ball, despite his impressive resumé.

Regardless of the limitations of the Royals passing game, they are still an elite team in Europe after proving on numerous occasions they can dismantle solid teams like Cologne and Braunschweig with relative ease. They will be chasing the number one spot with a vengeance and have all the tools to pull a big win out of the bag late in the season.

The Monarchs, on the other hand, have had an almost diametrically opposite regular season. After an early-season loss to their passing counterpart, the Cologne Crocodiles, the team has gone from strength to strength. Dresden quarterback Kyle Carta-Samuels Jr. is to the passing game what Jake Mayon is to the run-game. Like Mayon, he tops the leaderboards, and by quite a margin. Even electric Cologne quarterback Christian Strong is still 13 touchdowns shy of Carta-Samuels, and with over twice as many interceptions. It is no wonder that teams have struggled to keep up with over 3,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. Darrell Stewart Jr. is the stand-out receiver on the team but by no means the only one. Carta-Samuels has spread it around evenly all season leaving opposing teams little choice but to simply mitigate against the onslaught where they can.

The team is far from perfect though. With little to show for a rushing game, they have ranked tied at dead last in touchdowns and 10th in yardage on the ground. This is mirrored on defense too, ranking 11th in yardage allowed. But, where there is a Euro, there is a way. The team has recently re-signed arguably the best linebacker in Europe, two-time All-American with the McKendree University Bearcats (NCAA, Division II), AJ Wentland. And if this wasn’t enough, just a week before they signed Arkansas Razorback (NCAA Div. 1 FBS) and former Cincinnati Bengals running back Devwah Whaley. Two players of their caliber will surely remove any deficiencies that the team has in the runup to the playoffs.

Both teams have already had remarkable seasons, proving they have a great chance to go the distance with rosters loaded with talent. This game matters for both as it’s for bragging rights in the GFL North. But in the grand scheme of things both teams will enter the playoffs and likely sweep aside whoever from the South make the long bus ride up and proceed to the next round of playoffs.

Make sure not to miss this exciting matchup this Sunday, September 5 at 15:00 CET (3 pm, 09:00 amET) on AFI.tv.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.