Sunday, June 27, 2010

Game #1: Hanau Hornets vs. Kaiserslautern Pikes

So just to give a little bit of background on the Hanau Hornets before I delve into the details of the first game…. The Hornets are currently in the GFL2 (German Football League: 2nd Division). Last year, they were in the GFL3 (3rd division) and came in 1st place, thus advancing to the 2nd division, with the last place team from the GFL2 being forced to drop to the GFL3. The transition to the GFL2 has not been a smooth one to say the least, as the Hornets are currently in last place and are in great danger of being relegated back to the GFL3. To put things in even greater perspective, the Hornets’ record (as of June 18th) is 0-7, and they have been outscored 35 to 229 by their GFL2 opponents. Needless to say, my expectations were not great considering I stepped off of the plane 2 days earlier, had 1 practice with the team, had not played QB in about a year and a half, and the Hornets’ dismal performance thus far in their season.

Now to the game… My teammate, Andy MacMillan, picked me up in the morning and drove to the stadium where we met the rest of the Hornets and filed onto the Coach bus which would be taking us to Kaiserslautern (about 2 hours away). This provided a great opportunity to take in the German countryside from the autobahn, which was chock full of picturesque, charming little towns as well as a great number of giant windmills used to produce electricity. The bus ride was a little bit different than your typical bus ride in college as there was lots of talking, joking, and storytelling with both the players and the coaches. Particularly from Coach Coleman who is another U.S. army vet living and coaching in Germany. He gave a number of great history lessons (in English) about the various areas, regions, and cities in Germany, and one could easily tell that he has done his fare share of reading about and exploring the country of Germany.

We arrived in Kaiserslautern and went through the typical changing, warm-up, and pre-game routines. One semi unusual thing was the fireworks which were shot off as the opponents took the field, as well as the crowd of about 500 people in attendance for the game. The game started with the Pikes (not too sure what a Pike is…) putting together a nice drive but stalling out and putting our starting position at about the 17 yard line. The Hornets then promptly marched down the field on an 11 play drive, ending with a 3 yard QB sneak for a TD, which sent the Hornets sideline into a frenzy, as they have apparently never scored on their opening possession.

The Pikes then came back with an impressive drive of their own, and scored a TD. The Hornets then put together a few nice drives which ultimately ended because of penalties and a snap over the head of yours truly, putting our offense in an unfortunate 3rd and 28 position. But our offense, for the football junkies, is much like the offense I ran at Calvert Hall my senior year, and is mostly a Spread Shotgun, 4 WR, with a lot of passing and some QB draw plays and inside runs by the running back. But contrary to my private expectations, our offense was moving the ball very well, but because of penalties and mental mistakes we did not put another score up in the first half.

In the second half our offense played quite well with a couple of very long drives, and a TD pass to American RB/WR Torrance Brown in the back corner of the end zone. But because I am writing this blog post a week after the game was played, I don’t have any other specific memories of the game until the final 2 minutes. We ended up being down by 2 points (15 to 17) and gained possession of the ball at about the 20 yard line with about 2:10 left on the clock. Of course we have never practiced a “2 minute drill”, and I found out quite quickly that I would be calling the majority of the plays on the drive. We put together a number of very good pass and run plays and advanced the ball to about the 20 yard line with 8 seconds left, putting the team in great position for the 1st win of the season. I ended up being the holder, another job I have not done in years, and saw the snapped football basically rolling back to me from the long snapper, so I picked it up as fast as I could, put it on the tee, then: The kick is up, it’s on target,…….and it falls a foot short!!!

There was devastation on the sidelines of the Hornets who were so close to achieving their first win of the season, only to have it snatched from their grasps after a long hard fought battle! But that’s football! We committed way to many penalties and made too many avoidable mistakes, but there is always a silver lining in any football game. The silver lining is that the offense played much better then it had all season, the players were playing with passion, and the team put itself in position to win the game in the end. We have much to work on, but there is definitely hope for the Hanau Hornets, and I have a feeling that victory will be ours much sooner than later.

On a personal playing note, I had an absolute blast playing QB again! And playing with guys who only play because they love the game of football was awesome, the skill level is probably comparable to high school, but the guys really give it everything they have. Even after the loss, there was much optimism among the team regarding future games with our new, dangerous offense. The offensive line provided me with great protection, and I was only sacked 1 time all game (I can’t even begin to remember the last time that happened…), and the receivers also played very well, particularly Torrance Brown. Once I am able to work with the receivers for more than one practice, we should be a very dangerous offense. (On a sad note, Andy Macmillan broke his ankle and will be out for the season after turning in a 7 catch performance).

The Stat Line looked something like: 12 rushes 108 yards 1 TD, 58% Comp Rate 286 yards 1 TD 0 INT. I saw the official stats about a week ago, and that is what I can best remember.
(click the link at the top right of the page for more Photos)


  1. First game we lost pretty 2 points I think.....

    Steven #51