The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns are an American football team from Schwäbisch Hall, Germany.
The club's greatest successes were winning the southern division title in the German Football League in 2009, and every year from 2011 to 2016, followed up by winning the German Bowl in 2011 and 2012. The club also made two losing appearances in the German Bowl, suffering defeat by record champion Braunschweig Lions in 2014 and 2015.
Previously, the only appearance in a national championship game the club has made was in 1997, when it lost the Junior Bowl to the youth team of the Berlin Adler.
The club was founded on 9 November 1983, as the American football department of the TSG Schwäbisch Hall, which is still, as of 2014, the mother club of the Unicorns.
In the following year, the team entered in the central division of the 2nd Bundesliga, the second tier of American football in Germany, now the German Football League 2. At this level, the club quickly acclimatised, winning its division in 1986 and 1987. In 1986, the Stuttgart Scorpions were still the stronger side in the promotion round, winning both games and baring the Unicorns from moving one level up, but the year after the club managed to take up the Scorpions place in the American Football Bundesliga.
The team played at this level for the next three seasons, without ever qualifying for the postseason, before losing its league place in 1990 when the league was reduced from 26 to 16 clubs. The Unicorns found themselves back in the 2nd Bundesliga for the next three seasons, before suffering further relegation.
The side's absolute low came in 1995, when it had dropped to the tier-four Oberliga Baden Württemberg, but it quickly recovered, winning the league that season and earning promotion to the third tier. After another title, now in the Regionalliga Mitte, the team returned to the 2nd Bundesliga once more for the 1997 season.
In four seasons at this level, the team finished in the top four each year, culminating in a second place in 2000, which allowed the side to move up again because of two clubs withdrawing from the GFL. For the next seven seasons, the Unicorns reached the play-offs each year, with a semi final appearance in 2005, where it lost to the Braunschweig Lions, as its best result.
The 2008 season was a disappointment to the club, finishing fifth in its division and missing the postseason, but also staying well clear of relegation trouble. In 2009, the Unicorns were much improved, winning the southern division for the first time and missing out on a first-ever German Bowl appearance by a point, losing 21-22 to the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes. In 2010, the club came second in its division but lost to the Dresden Monarchs in the quarterfinals of the play-offs.
The team played a flawless regular season in 2011, winning every game, followed by beating the Berlin Adler in the quarter finals and the Mönchengladbach Mavericks in the semifinals of the play-offs and advancing to the German Bowl for the first time, where they met the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes. The 33rd edition was the highest scoring German Bowl of all time, ending with a 48-44 victory for the Unicorns, which thereby ended an 18 year title drought for the south.
In 2012 the club once more won its division, reaching the German Bowl after victories over the Düsseldorf Panther and Berlin Adler in the quarter and semi finals of the play-offs. In a repeat of 2011 the club once more defeated the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes in the German Bowl. The 2013 season saw the club win a third consecutive division title but the team was unable to defend their national championship, being knocked out in the quarter finals by the Berlin Adler.
The club took out the southern division title of the GFL once more in 2014 and defeated the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes 50–24 in the quarter finals and the Dresden Monarchs 33–27 in the semi finals of the play-offs to reach the 2014 German Bowl where it lost to the New Yorker Lions in a lopsided 47–9 where they only managed to score a field goal until well into the fourth quarter. The team won the southern division for a fifth consecutive time in 2015 and defeated the Hamburg Huskies in the quarter finals and the Dresden Monarchs in the semi-finals of the play-offs, facing the New Yorker Lions once more in the German Bowl, which the Unicorns lost 31–41 in a much more closely fought contest than the previous year. 2015 also saw their first appearance in the BIG6 European Football League, where they advanced to the final before losing 24-14 in Eurobowl XXIX to host New Yorker Lions.
The 2016 season saw an unthreatened defense of the division championship with the Unicorns compiling a perfect season in the process. However, the division title and home field advantages throughout the playoffs could only be clinched in the last game with a 35-28 win at Frankfurt against Universe. On the European stage, Hall saw their BIG6 campaign stopped at the hands of the Tirol Raiders that beat them in the group phase after an easy win over the Berlin Adler. The post season began with an easy win over the Berlin Rebels (24-14) and continued - as the two years before - with a close fought match against the Dresden Monarchs. Despite a 21-7 lead going into halftime, the Unicorns only managed to put the game out of reach near the end ultimately prevailing 35-26 on a 100 yard kickoff return immediately following the Dresden field goal that had made it a close contest at 28-26. Thus Hall achieved the fifth bowl appearance in six years.
As of 2016, former Unicorn wide receiver Moritz Böhringer is the first and only European player to be drafted into the National Football League directly out of a European league.Eurobowl
Champions: (2) 2011, 2012
Runners-up: (3) 2014–2016
Participations: (2) 2012, 2013
BIG6 European Football League
Participations: (2) 2015–present
Southern Division champions: (7) 2009, 2011–2016
Play-off qualification : (15) 2001–2007, 2008–2016
League membership : (19) 1988–1990, 2001–present
Central Division champions: 1986, 1987
The club's appearances in the German Bowl:
Recent seasons of the club:RR = Relegation round.
QF = Quarter finals.
SF = Semi finals.
GB = German Bowl
† The final game of the 2011 season against the Marburg Mercenaries was not played because of heavy rain on game day.
Moritz Böhringer, drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings
Marco Ehrenfried, starting Quarterback of the German national team, MVP of the 2014 European Championship
Patrick Donahue leading receiver of the team during the 2015 season, invited to Rookie Minicamp by the Green Bay Packers