Saturday, September 19
The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns find themselves in the same spot as they were in 2014 with head coach Siegfried Gehrke leading his troops into the playoffs after a stellar regular season. The only blemish was a surprising loss to the Allgau Comets.
The Hamburg Huskies on the other hand, limped into the playoffs after suffering through some key player injuries, losing their final six games of the season. In fact, the last time they won a game was June 13 when they beat the Berlin Adler. They will be in tough against the high powered Unicorns offense. Nevertheless, once you’re in the playoffs all you need is one win. And Hamburg may be due.
Unicorns quarterback Marco Ehrenfried has thrown for 3,632 yards and 46 touchdowns this season and is a veteran playoff performer. He leads the league in passing efficiency with a 207.7 rating and has two 1,000 yard receivers to throw to. Both Moritz Böhringer (1,100 yards, 13 TDs) and Patrick Donahue (1,085 yards, 15 TDs) have been deadly and surehanded. Add to this Christian Rycraw’s 1,550 yards rushing and Schwäbisch Hall’s offense is daunting.
Huskies head coach André Schleemann will have his hands full as defensive coordinator. Nevertheless he has linebacker Kendral Ellison who is a veteran player in Europe and finished the regular season as the second leading tackler in the German league. Defensive back Curtis Slater (Team USA gold medal winner) is a ball hawk and finished with five interceptions, one for a touchdown. Slater also doubles on offense and is dangerous whether playing quarterback or receiver.
Offensively, the Huskies have been trying to solve their quarterbacking woes for over a month. After Reggie Langford was sidelined with a rotator cuff injury, Schleemann has been working on finding a replacement. Each week a new solution has been tried but nothing with any success. For this game it looks like German quarterback Jonathan Senger will get the nod.
Needless to say, Hamburg will rely heavily on the run for this one. Although the Huskies had only one player, Langford, in the top 10 in rushing, they accumulated 2,229 yards on the ground in 2015, among the best in the league. Running back Marvin Stüdemann along with Tyson Giza and Curtis Slater all contributed and make it tough for opposing defenses to know who to key on. Giza is a key. If he is playing well, the offense will click.
Defensively, the Huskies will have their hands full, but defensive end Okan Güzel can create matchup problems for offensive lines. He can bring pressure and the Huskies will be doing everything possible to rattle Ehrenfried to get him off his game.
Although the Unicorns are the favorites to win this game, this is the playoffs. Hamburg will be playing desperate which means anything can happen.