The crowning game of the Sportklub CEFL Championship is played this Saturday, 26 June at 15:00 CET. The scene of the CEFL Bowl XV is the Tivoli stadium in Innsbruck, which will be capped to 3000 seats due to protective measures. The game will be played by two European powerhouses, Swarco Raiders Tirol will be the host, and the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns are making the journey to the Alps.
Anticipation must almost be palpable for all true fans of the Sportklub CEFL Championship in expectation of the final game. The last CEFL Bowl was played more than 2 years ago because, as we are all chronically aware, the ongoing pandemic left no opportunity of staging international tournaments until only a few months ago.
In retrospect, season 2020 was to be the first one after a long time when European tournaments which host the strongest teams playing under common rules should have been united into a single competition. There would be no need for the Superfinal game between partnering tournaments from different regions. It was supposed to be supplanted by the bowl game of the unified competition.
When past year was taken away by a force-majeure, all those hopes have cascaded into this season of the Sportklub CEFL Championship, which had to be re-organized a few times itself. The 2021 contest, which was initially structured with great difficulty to accommodate 11 teams, was subsequently cut to 8 participants, after some have realized their inability to play.
Even though the 8-team schedule should have started from the quarterfinals, 2 games of the opening round have had to be canceled due to national Covid-19 restrictions. Teams were fighting off the field before they could take each other on it. Hardly any team from the CEFL Championship can be content with this season and everyone’s clinging to the hope of next year, but now at least the goal line for 2021 is in sight.
Although CEFL Championship has not fully returned to regular operations this season, and its little brother, CEFL Cup had to be canceled, one huge improvement needs to be mentioned. The long-awaited introduction of an elite German team to CEFL has finally happened, to everyone’s delight. No upper-echelon European competition can truly be complete without top-notch GFL teams. And now best Austrian and German teams are meeting each other once again, this time in the CEFL Bowl XV.
The Raiders have placed in the final game after beating Milan Seamen in the quarterfinals and their arch-rivals, Dacia Vienna Vikings in the semis. On the other hand, quarterfinal round matchup of the Unicorns versus Carlstad Crusaders was canceled due to their coronavirus-induced inability to travel. The German team has advanced directly into the semifinals, where they’ve bested last-year’s finalist, Calanda Broncos.
This past weekend Swarco Raiders have again conquered their fiercest foes in the national league, Dacia Vikings. The duel between these two teams was undecided until the last seconds, when the Tiroleans have prevailed by a 3 points difference. Doing this they have all but erased the memory of the only defeat this season in the AFL served to them by the Viennese. They’re hoping that this victory on the Tivoli stadium will serve as a lead-in to the big game this Saturday. It’s hard to believe, but the Raiders are still undefeated in their fourth season in the CEFL Championship.
Their offensive leader, Sean Shelton has thrown 7 touchdowns and ran for 1 in this competition. His favorite target was Marco Schneider who caught 2 passes for touchdowns. Their defensive unit has also been relentless, especially up front, amassing 9 sacks in the two CEFL Championship games.
Kevin Herron, Raiders’ head coach knows the strength of their opponents: “After the grueling game against the Vikings, the next heavyweight is waiting for us. The Unicorns have been a force in German football for years. They are extremely dangerous, especially offensively – not only because of an ex-NFL pro Moritz Böhringer. It’s going to be an incredibly difficult game, but of course we’re going to throw everything into the balance to win the title again.”
The challengers from Germany have only dipped their toes in the national season in which they are undefeated after two rounds. As always, the Unicorns are playing in the Southern conference of the GFL, where they’ve triumphed last week by a comfortable margin. Judging by their smooth sailing there so far, it could turn out that the Swabian team doesn’t get challenged until the play off. They must trust that they’re ready for their real test coming so early in the season in CEFL Bowl XV. It’s a great opportunity for them to lift their first trophy in the premiere international continental competition.
Unicorns’ domestic quarterback, Alexander Haupert has scored 2 touchdowns in the semifinals, by passing to Yannick Mayr and rushing. Three other players have also punched in once each: John Santiago, Jannis Fiedler, and Moritz Böhringer, who has also added a catch for a 2 point conversion.
Jordan Neuman, head coach of the Unicorns sings praises to their adversary: “The Raiders have been a top team in Europe for many years and are excellently organized at all levels. They have very good coaches and exceptionally good athletes on their team again this year.” He added some nice words about CEFL too: “Games like this next Saturday are the reason we’re participating in the CEFL this year. We are looking for the challenge to compete at the highest level in Europe. Even the semifinal against the Calanda Broncos showed that this is actually offered in the CEFL.”
Viewers from the markets covered by Sportklub TV will be able to watch the game live on their channels and other fans may of course catch the live stream.
CEFL Bowl XV
Saturday, 26 June, 15:00 CET
Swarco Raiders Tirol – Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns
Live stream: https://livestream.com/raidersTV/raiders-unicorns-cefl-bowl-xv-2021