CEFL Bowl XVI
Saturday, 25 June, 17:00 CET
Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns — E-R Parma Panthers
The culmination of the CEFL Championship 2022 will take place this Saturday in Schwäbisch Hall where the Unicorns will host the second finalist, E-R Parma Panthers. CEFL Bowl XVI will be played on Optima Sportpark with the kickoff at 17:00 CET. The stadium was reconstructed in 2015 to provide a great experience to 3500 fans.
After a canceled season in 2020 and a shortened one last year, horrifying circumstances have continued. Pandemic worries gave way to the war in Ukraine which has affected CEFL Championship too. Instead of the most heavily populated competition with the 13 planned participants, it was played with one fewer team, Moscow Spartans.
Nonetheless, it was the first season that the strongest non-pro European teams have played in the same CEFL competition. This was in the works for the past two CEFL Championships, but coronavirus has stifled those plans. Finally, this season, next to the best contestants from central Europe, champions from Scandinavia to Spain have joined the fray as well.
In all, CEFL Championship has welcomed 7 new teams: Badalona Dracs, Copenhagen Towers, Flash de La Courneuve, Las Rozas Black Demons, Örebro Black Knights, E-R Parma Panthers and Vienna Danube Dragons. It also marked a comeback for its most winningest team, Belgrade SBB Vukovi and another familiar name, Budapest Wolves. Last year’s champions, Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns returned for another stint, as did Calanda Broncos. Thonon Black Panthers came back too, after their 2019 performance.
Another seminal fact is that the CEFL’s long-standing media partner, Sportklub TV has shown a game from each round of the competition. First they covered a duel between Belgrade SBB Vukovi and Vienna Danube Dragons. In the second round they broadcast the game from Parma, when the Panthers have hosted the Danube Dragons. In the semifinals it was a joust in Schwäbisch Hall, Unicorns – Flash. They’ll air the CEFL Bowl XVI as well, and the live stream with English-speaking announcers is also available.
The Unicorns have 4 German championships under their belt and they’re defending the CEFL Bowl XV crown they won last season. Now their road to the finals started in the quarterfinal round when they’ve beaten the Swedish champions, Örebro Black Knights, 58-7. A much tougher job awaited them in the semifinals, where they overpowered the French powerhouse, Flash de La Courneuve, 35-21.
The Panthers have notched up 5 Italian titles, including the one from last season. This was their first season playing in the CEFL Championship. They kicked it off at home by winning against the Danube Dragons in the quarterfinals, 21-10. Traveling to Calanda Broncos in the semis they almost repeated the same score, mounting impenetrable defense in the second half to end the game with 21-9.
Unicorns’ signal caller, Reilly Hennessey has scored 8 total touchdowns in the CEFL Championship, 1 of them over the ground. Splitting his production evenly between the first 2 games, he connected with Tyler Rutenbeck twice in the quarterfinals and did the same with Mitch Fettig in the semis.
Panthers’ defense is able to shut down opponents for half of the games they play. Their rusher, Dauson Dales has broken into the end zones 4 times, twice in each game. At the same time, quarterback Brook Bolles was good for a score in both duels, first one through the air and second over the ground.
German national league hasn’t presented a challenge for the Unicorns this year. They’re coasting in it with a 4-0 record so far and they look poised for the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Panthers have finished their domestic journey last week, losing to Florence Guelfi in the semifinals by 5 points. They won’t be hoisting the national league trophy, so this is their chance to win an international one. It will be very hard for them to take it from the defending champions who are playing at home in front of their own crowd.