Quarterback Alexander Haupert has title dreams after joining Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns

When it comes to sports, it’s no secret that some jobs are more prestigious than others. Playing a certain position in a certain city can carry a heavy reputation and expectation. Whether it’s quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears, or running back at Alabama, assuming that role makes you the unquestioned guy.

In European football, quarterback of the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns is one of those roles. When it was offered to Alexander Haupert, the decision was an easy one.

“As a child, I dreamed of winning a German national championship one day,” the team’s freshly christened 2021 starter says. “The Unicorns are one of the best football organizations in Europe, four-time national champions, 10-time division champions. If they ask you, as a German kid, to be their starting QB, you don’t think twice.”

While Haupert may not have thought twice about joining the Unicorns, it was a move that unquestionably made some around the GFL do a double-take. Most teams, and certainly most title favorites like Schwäbisch Hall, choose to make a big splash with an intriguing import acquisition under center. That’s the way the Unicorns had gone in 2019, with Jadrian Clark coming tantalizingly close to a German Bowl victory, and no one would have been surprised had they tried it again.

Alexander Haupert in preseason game Photo: Sarah Philipp

Instead, head coach Jordan Neumann opted to turn back the clock in a sense, returning to the formula of homegrown quarterbacking that earned him back-to-back German Bowls in 2017 and 2018 under the steady hand of national legend Marco Ehrenfried. The veteran German retired following his last championship after posting 90 straight starts and consecutive undefeated seasons, big shoes for the young Haupert to fill.

“It’s a great honor. He was a great QB and led the Unicorns to two German Bowls. I think that shows everybody that you can win championships with a German QB and I’m looking forward to bringing that trophy back to the south,” the newcomer says, not lacking for boldness.

Alexander Haupert vs Team USA Photo: Kowalfoto

While he’s a fresh face on the Unicorns‘ roster, Haupert is no stranger to GFL fans. The 26-year-old has been at the helm of the Saarland Hurricanes since 2014, competing in both the top league and GFL 2. As he tells it, Haupert has faced surprisingly few hurdles for a European passer since he picked up the game at the age of eight and his hometown Hurricanes gave him an opportunity from day one. In some strange, serendipitous way, his career was tied to Schwäbisch Hall at that very same moment.

“I started for the first team in 2014 in the GFL1 for the Hurricanes. In fact, we faced the Unicorns in my very first game and we won it,” Haupert explains. “Then I had the opportunity in 2017 to play in the World Games for Team Germany as their starting QB, where Jordan Neumann was my QB coach and we started working together for the first time, which was a great experience for me.”

That German national team became the first to knock off the United States in international competition and Haupert’s performance with the program laid the foundation for Neumann’s confidence in bringing the young pivot two and a half hours down the road to lead his team four years later.

He’s surrounded Haupert with an impressive array of weapons, ranging from running back John Santiago to receivers Tyler Rutenbeck and Yannick Mayr and former NFL tight end Moritz Böhringer, and the team is geared up for yet another German Bowl run, but first comes a chance at a Central European Football League title.

The first German team to participate in the competition, the Unicorns weathered the Calanda Broncos of Switzerland in the semi-final of the shortened tournament and will meet the Swarco Raiders of Tirol in CEFL Bowl XV on Saturday, a matchup Haupert anticipates will be one of the toughest of 2021.

“The Raiders will be the best team we’ve faced so far. They are one of the top teams in Europe and they have a good roster with experience and talent,” he says. “We need to compete at the highest level and we need to be perfect. Any mistake could decide the game.”

Alexander Haupert playing for Saarland Hurricanes Photo: 66 Photography

The tournament carries slightly more weight than normal as well, given the opponent. The quarterback freely admits that that national rivalry hangs over the matchup, with bragging rights on the line.

“Just a little bit. It’s not only the Unicorns vs. the Raiders, it’s also Germany vs. Austria and you for sure want to be the winning team and country,” he acknowledges. “That aspect is always just in the back of your mind.”

A victory will add to the impressive Unicorns’ trophy case, but will also be an important first notch on the belt for Haupert as he begins to shape his own legacy outside the shadows of his predecessors. He knows there are young Europeans watching him now, as he once studied Ehrenfried, and for them he has a simple message.

“If it’s your dream to be a quarterback, work as hard as you can. Be the best version of yourself every practice. Never stop growing and find something you can work on. And if there comes a chance, take it and show them what you’re able to do,” Haupert emphasizes.

“Believe in yourself. There is nothing impossible and who knows…maybe you are the next European quarterback starting in the CEFL Championship.”

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.