PREVIEW & LIVE STREAM: GFL Semi-finals – Braunschweig v. Cologne; Dresden v. Schwäbisch Hall

The German semi finals are here and great football is in store!

The reigning champions and heavy favorites to repeat, the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions, enter the semis free of serious injury. They have enjoyed an outstanding season. Their two losses to Vienna and the Berlin Adler came outside of league play and both games were close.

They have rumbled through regular season play with nary a hitch, bulldozing competition in the allegedly stronger North division with seeming ease. They have manhandled the other four top teams in Germany – Dresden, Cologne, Kiel and the Berlin Adler – by lopsided scores.

Braunschweig RB

Lions running back Michael Andrew


They will face the Cologne Falcons, who have recovered from a horrendous 2-12 season in 2013 to finish as one of the top four teams in Germany this year. However, the Falcons have a daunting task Saturday. In the two games they played the Lions this season they were pummeled 49-13 and 59-7. The Braunschweig rushing attack, led by David McCants, is formidable. Teamed with Brit Michael Andrew and German-born Sven Roseman they rushed for 380 yards and six touchdowns in the two games. Braunschweig quarterback Casey Therriault was the most efficient passer in Germany in 2014. He completed 183 of 261 attempts this season for 2,610 yards and 34 touchdowns against a mere three interceptions.

The Lions will put pressure on Cologne quarterback Robert Demers. But they will have to as Demers’ receiving corp, led by Estrus Crayton, are all 6’4″  and taller. If Demers has the time, they can be dangerous. Lions linebackers Kerim Homri (fifth in tackles with 100) and Jacob Schridde (first with 18 sacks) and the entire front four will not give Demers much time though.

Cologne Falcons Estrus Crayton

Cologne receiver Estrus Crayton looking to score

As much as they have improved this year, the Falcons will likely falter here and Braunschweig will move on to the German Bowl.

LIVE STREAM – Braunschweig New Yorker Lions v. Cologne Falcons

Kickoff: 6:45 PM local German time. 12:45 PM EST.

Last year’s finalists, 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 high scoring offenses, this game will be fun to watch.

The Unicorn’s Marcus Sims averaged 163 yards and almost three touchdowns a game this season, but Dresden running back Trevar Deed  was right behind him averaging 133 yards and two touchdowns every game. For Sims this was his first season of football in Germany while Deed completed his third year in the German league. And this isn’t Deed’s first playoff appearance. Two 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.


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 279 of 449 passes this year for 4,129 yards and 45 touchdowns. Monarch linebackers Damien Donaldson and Quade Chappuis along with Sherman Vercher will have their work cut out for them.

Dresden signal caller Jeff Welsh is a veteran playoff quarterback. He has faced the Unicorns in the German Bowl when he was with Kiel. This year, he threw for just under 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns. His favorite target, Guillaume Rioux, had 71 receptions for 1,221 yards and 11 touchdowns and is a speedster. The Unicorn front four is led by defensive end Eddie Rascon who was second overall in Germany with 10 sacks this year. Welsh will have to keep his head on a swivel when Rascon is around.

Dresden Monarchs

Dresden’s swarming defense

This one is a toss up. Schwäbisch Hall’s potent offense scores early averaging almost two 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. This will be a game to watch.

Unicorn Head Coach Siegfried Gehrke has enormous respect for the Monarchs: “The Monarchs have a powerful offense, and it is much more than Trevar Deed, atlhough he alone is a challenge. We will have to slow him down. And Dresden’s defense was second best in the league.” he said. “We need to be focused and on our game to win Saturday.”


LIVE STREAM: Dresden Monarchs v. Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns

Kickoff: 3 PM German time. 9 AM EST.

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.