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Roosters, Crocodiles, and Steelers Dominate Maple League Season Openers

The first week of the season opened up the winning records for Helsinki Roosters, Seinäjoki Crocodiles and Kuopio Steelers, who beat Wasa Royals, Porvoo Butchers and Lohja Crusaders respectively. Round 2 kicks off Thursday, May 23rd, with Botnia Bowl as the Crocodiles host the Royals. On Friday, May 24th, the Roosters face the Butchers in Helsinki , and on Saturday, May 25th, we get to see the Helsinki Wolverines’ season debut as the Kuopio Steelers visit Helsinki.


Let’s have a look at each team and what we may expect from them.


1 - Kuopio Steelers (1-0)

The Savonians started the season with a high-scoring visit as they beat the Crusaders in Lohja with the final score of 14 – 62. It’s no wonder our AFF team picked their QB Josh Taylor as the offensive player of the week. His merits included 7 passes and 2 TDs to another import, WR Austin Brock. These two know each other from Mount St Joseph College (Ohio), and it’s exciting to see what kind of achievements they bring to the Maple League fields this year.

Photo Credit: Laura Helminen

The Steelers’ week 2 opponent, the Helsinki Wolverines, haven’t had their season-opener yet, so we still have to wait and see how the Helsinki team operates during another season under Pekka Lamminsalo’s coaching. The fact is that the Steelers’ offense put on a show during week 1 and I don’t see a reason they wouldn’t be able to repeat that in Helsinki this week, too.


2 - Seinäjoki Crocodiles (1-0)

The Crocodiles swept the doubters off their feet during their season opener against the Porvoo Butchers with a final score of 34 - 16. Some may have been a little uncertain about the new QB Christian Arrambide. However, with other familiar offensive weapons such as Christian Powell, Särkeläs, both Janne and Joel, and the O-line managing the trenches on a top level, keeping the Butchers’ defense on their side of the line of scrimmage, the little remaining doubts of the Crocodiles being a contender this season, vanished.

Photo Credit: Seinäjoki Crocodiles

This week we get another Botnia Bowl as the Crocodiles host the Wasa Royals Thursday night. Seinäjoki's D-line has to make sure Tom Suoste cannot get through them, but if the first round gave us an idea, Charles Akanno, our defensive player of the week, alone will make the offense scratch their heads. It is also expected that the green defensive backfield keeps a keen eye on Alpha Jalloh who seems to remain their most serious pass-catching threat.


3 - Helsinki Roosters (1-0) with comments from Santtu Vehkomäki

The Roosters showed they are a valid competitor this season as they defeated the Wasa Royals 28-12. One of the success stories of the first round was wide receiver Santtu Vehkomäki, maybe unsurprisingly. I had a quick interview with this offensive threat, who was feeling good after the big win and asked what helped them beat the Royals this time.

Photo Credit: Laura Helminen

We managed to minimize the errors on the offensive side, and our defense stood their ground greatly in the tough matchup” he said and continued with thanking the coaching staff and QB:

Our OC Daniel Stanzel had a solid gameplan and Ambro passed the goods left and right, so we had a decent setup for a great game.”


The opponent for the Birds this week is the defending champion, the Porvoo Butchers, who did not show us their best game last week. “We need to get rid of those little mistakes we made in the first game and have a wider palate of success on both sides of the ballVehkomäki said when I asked what needs to be improved when facing the Butchers. The Roosters defense had a decent game during the first round, but it remains to be seen if they can keep it up this week ,and in the upcoming games. Their defense also took a major hit with their import DL player Dan Gilroy heading back home to the States after just one week due to a season-ending injury. It might take some time to get that hole fixed.


4 - Porvoo Butchers (0-1)

The current Maple Bowl champs did not have their gameplan in order during their week 1 34–16 loss against the said Maple Bowl opponent, Seinäjoki Crocodiles. Porvoo defense had trouble with the multi-talented Crocs offense and most of Butchers’ tackles were provided by Timi Nuikka and Zachary Wright.


In week 2 game against Helsinki Roosters, Butchers need to get their act together on both sides of the ball. I personally would like to see those swag-dripping uniforms get a W this time, but that requires work. Getting the ball to Luukas Eerola, who still lacks his first catch of the season might be a key against the Roosters backfield.


5 - Wasa Royals (0-1)

The Wasa Royals had a decent game against the Roosters during Week 1, but the finishing of the touchdowns just didn’t happen this time. The defense had trouble stopping the Roosters’ passing game. Viktor Mänty had the biggest share of Royals’ tackles with total of 6 and Demarco Artis managed to force 2 fumbles, so I wouldn’t call Royals defense a lost cause.

Photo Credit: Jarmo Vehkomäki

In the first Botnia Bowl, week 2 matchup, against the Seinäjoki Crocodiles the Royals need to up their game on both sides of the ball. Tom Suoste is one great running back, and Alpha Jalloh knows his way down the field. This Thursday night we will see if the O-line and QB Theo Landers can get the win column open for Wasa.


6 - Lohja Crusaders (0-1)

The Lohja Crusaders (artist formerly known as UNC Crusaders) did not have a start any team would dream of having, as they were beaten by the Kuopio Steelers 14-62. There was trouble on both the offense and the defense. Especially their running game was a bust with just 1.5 yards average. They did, however, manage to get 2 passing TDs from the hands of Bryce Macina to Oskari Suoniemi and Petrus Virtanen. It may be in the Crusaders’ best interest to have the week 2 bye so they have proper time to go through their gameplan and get their team back on the feet before their week 3 matchup against the Helsinki Roosters.

Photo Credit: Laura Helminen

7 - Helsinki Wolverines (0-0)

We don’t know yet exactly how the Wolverines’ gameplay is going to look this season, but since their coaching staff has not faced major changes from last year, the game will probably have same characteristics we saw last season. It will be interesting to see if Rasmus Laalo and the Wolverines offense can get through the Kuopio Steelers defense. It’s not the easiest team to start the season against, but we’re all here for it to see what the Wolverines bring to the table this year.


Round 2 matchups

Thursday, May 23rd: Seinäjoki Crocodiles – Wasa Royals at 18:30

Friday, May 24th:  Helsinki Roosters – Porvoo Butchers at 18:30

Saturday, May 25th: Helsinki Wolverines – Kuopio Steelers at 16:30


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