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With the number of football-playing schools in Europe continuing to dwindle, DODDS-Europe teams have been picking up some local squads to round out their schedules.

On Friday and Saturday, eight of the 24 DODDS-Europe teams — Ansbach, AFNORTH, Mannheim, Vicenza, Aviano, SHAPE, Bitburg and Wiesbaden — have exhibition games planned against local club or high school-level teams, a week ahead of the start of the official DODDS season. Several other teams will play local national squads during the year.

While the games don’t count in the teams’ records, they do help players and coaches prepare for the regular season, or in the case of games played on off weeks, to iron out problems.

"These are sanctioned, nonfunded exhibition games," Ansbach coach Marcus George said Tuesday.

George’s three-time defending European champion Cougars, winners of 24 straight games, will host the Theodor-Fliedner-Gymnasium of Düsseldorf at 1 p.m. on Saturday. According to George, the school is one of the few German high schools that has an inter-school sports program. He said most Germans play club sports unaffiliated with the schools.

"There is some academic backlash, as German scholar-teachers have trouble understanding the correlation between sport and academics," he said when he announced the game, pointing out that sports teach teamwork, discipline and the value of working hard.

George said Tuesday that he’s seen films of TFG, nicknamed the Typhoons.

"They’re a nice, solid team," he said of a squad whose size impressed him most of all. "They’re undefeated and league champions."

On Friday at 7:30 p.m., the Mannheim Bison will host Karl-Rehbein-Gymnasium of Hanau. It will be the first international interscholastic game for both, according to Mannheim coach Frank Macias.

Groundbreaking of another sort will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Wiesbaden, where the Warriors, returned to DODDS’ Division I this season, will host a local club team, the Wiesbaden Phantoms.

"The mayor of Wiesbaden will be there," Warriors coach Steve Jewell said Wednesday. "We are calling it ‘The Wiesbaden Challenge.’ "

The Zurich Renegades will be at Vicenza at 1 p.m. on Saturday to play a round-robin jamboree against the Cougars and Aviano. The Swiss team is looking for an added benefit off the field, according to Vicenza coach Adam Ridgley.

"They’re hoping to see some college games (on television)," he said.

Also scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday are The Hague at SHAPE, the Wuppertal Greyhounds at defending European D-III champion AFNORTH and the Kaiserslautern Pikes at Bitburg.


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