PREVIEW w/ Patrick Esume: German Bowl XXXVI – New Yorker Lions v. Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns

Braunschweig & Schwäbisch Hall face off at the Battle in Berlin

After 30 games and five months of play, the two top teams in Germany will decide the championship title in the 36th German Bowl at Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn Stadium in Berlin this Saturday. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. local German time (12 noon EST) and it will be televised on Eurosport and Eurosport 2, and streamed to Eurosport subscribers on

German Bowl photo

The German Bowl Trophy and opponents

Battle in Berlin

The Braunschweig New Yorker Lions are the defending champions and have rumbled through the German league regular season and the playoffs with ease, leaving powerful opponents in tatters. They led the league in almost every key category including scoring offense, scoring defense, overall defense, rushing defense (they only allowed 60 yards rushing per game) and were in the top four in almost every other key area. This includes perhaps the most important – turnovers – which they lead by a wide margin. The Lions created twice as many turnovers as the next best team in this category – the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns.

German semifinal - Lions defense

The dreaded Braunschweig defense

After a slow start to the season in May, due in part to a new offensive system and key injuries, the Unicorns finally got on track in June. With everyone healthy and on the same page they have reeled off 14 straight wins amassing 46 points a game with a running back, Marcus Sims, punishing opponents, gaining almost 170 yards per game. He shredded the vaunted Dresden defense for 204 yards and two touchdowns in the German semifinal.

German semifinal - Unicorns vs Dresden

Marcus Sims was relentless this year.

Game Analysis With Patrick Esume

Seeking some insight on the match-up, AFI had a chance to talk with Patrick Esume.

Esume is the former head coach of the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes and has been to the German Bowl five times since 2008, winning it in 2010. His Hurricanes lost two in a row to the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns.

Patrick Esume3

Patrick Esume

“These are two very good teams. Schwäbisch Hall is extremely well coached. They do not do anything fancy. But they execute so well that even if you know what they are going to do, you can’t stop them.

Marcus Sims will be facing the best front seven in Germany though, and maybe Europe. They get upfield fast and hard and they are relentless. Defensive ends Francis Bah and Paco Varol can really motor. The Lions defensive tackles tie up the inside, giving the edge guys freedom. They bring five men to create five one on ones so the SAM linebacker and free safety can get to the quarterback.”

Asked what Scwhäbisch Hall should do on offense to defend this, Patrick said that quarterback Marco Ehrenfried (also the national Team Germany’s starting quarterback) has to rely on quick three-step drops right from the start. Ehrenfried himself says he will be on the lookout for Braunschweig’s #83 Jakob Schribbe. He led the team in sacks.

“Ehrenfried has to go to slants, hitches and screens, especially in first and 10 situations. You do not want to be faced with second or third and long against Braunschweig. But Ehrenfried has two great receivers in Will Powell (#2) and Aurieus Adeqbesan (#18). Both give opposing secondaries fits. Powell has great hands and he is quick. Adeqbesan is 6′ 7″ and is a mismatch nightmare and he also has good hands. Since the Lions always play man coverage, those corners will be occupied the entire game.”

Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns - Marco Ehrenfried

Marco Ehrenfried

Esume then shared his thoughts on the Braunschweig offense, which had an outstanding season.

“Everything they do revolves around quarterback Casey Therriault. He makes things happen. He is a deadly accurate passer and he extends plays with his legs. He led the league in passing efficiency. The Lions have maybe the best tandem of receivers in Europe in Niklas Römer (#84) and Anthony Dablé (#9), from France.”

Braunschweig action - Casey Therriault

Casey Therriault

The Lions rushing attack is truly a team effort as they rely on their RAM trio – Sven Rosemann, Michael Andrew and David McCants. They truly do ram the ball down your throats. They were fourth in Germany in rushing as a trio but McCants was the only one in the top 10.

McCants is shifty and quick and gets into the secondary fast. Michael Andrew is a bull and Sven a great all-around back. They have an outstanding offensive line blocking for them.”

Braunschweig action

David McCants scores another one

With Unicorn kicker Thomas Rauch hurt, according to Coach Esume, the special teams edge may go to Braunschweig. Lions kicker Tobias Goebel led Germany in kicking points with 104.

Patrick Esume’s prediction?

“This is a tough one. Braunschweig looks intimidating but Siggy (Unicorn head coach Siegfried Gehrke) and Schwäbisch Hall have been underdogs before and won. If the Lions don’t stop the Unicorns in the first and third quarters when they are deadly, this will be a race.

All anyone can say is that this will be a great game to watch. I would not want to miss it!”

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.