ELF: Hamburg Sea Devils need a big home win against surprising Wroclaw Panthers

The 2-3 Hamburg Sea Devils will play host to the 4-1 Wroclaw Panthers in a cross divisional matchup at Hamburg’s Stadion Hoheluft in week six of European League of Football action, Sunday, July 9.

Their last matchup came in week one and resulted in the Panthers holding it down in Wroclaw to secure a 34-25 win over the 2022 ELF finalists. The game saw Tony Tate greet the ELF with a 175 yard, three touchdown performance, complemented by 125 yards and a score for NFL Academy wideout Kacper Jaszewski.

With just one loss coming in week three to the Berlin Thunder, the Panthers have solidified their legitimacy over their opening five games. Despite quarterback Matthew Vitale emerging from the second division of Polish football just days before Wroclaw opened their season, the Panthers boast the second highest scoring offense in the ELF; the Vitale-Tate connection has been electric, with Tate leading the league in both all-purpose yards and in receiving touchdowns (12) by a considerable margin. 

On top of the production of their receivers, the Panthers have thrived on the ground with homegrown back Dawid Brzozowski rushing for a league-leading 518 yards, which will surely be something to watch as the number two rushing offense face the top rush defense in the league. Sea Devils defensive end Berend Grube holds down third place for TFLs (7.5) while sharing third for sacks with Evans Yeboah (5).

In contrast to their offensive efforts, defense has at times been a low point for the Polish side. In their last two games the Panthers have faced winless teams and still conceded 56 points, only to be bailed out by their own offensive performance. Despite this, they still possess the best turnover margin in the league (+12) while Krzystof Wis and Solomon Brown both sit in the top four for total tackles.

Although he has struggled with accuracy and consistency over the first few games, Hamburg’s Preston Haire has clearly found a rhythm, working his way into the top five for passing yards and touchdowns (1354, 11), while also leading his team on the ground with 218 yards for four scores. Malik Stanley has been Haire’s favorite target, reeling in 33 catches for 418 yards and six touchdowns. The majority of Stanley’s trips to the endzone came in his breakout game against the Berlin Thunder in week four, as Stanley caught nine of Haire’s throws for 116 yards and four touchdowns in their 37-17 win over the Thunder.

The Sea Devils will look to bounce back from their dramatic loss against the Paris Musketeers while the Panthers will be aiming to build on their 4-1 record and go 2-0 against Hamburg.

A current student at Bournemouth University as well as a quarterback with eight years of playing experience. Brad's goal is to be a part of the growth of the game around the world through journalism and media.