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Unveiling the 2024 Seinäjoki Crocodiles: Changes, Challenges, and Expectations

The 2024 Maple Season is very near, and the Seinäjoki Crocodiles can't wait. Last season's runners-up are looking to get the taste of defeat out of their mouths, and back into their winning ways as soon as possible. Will the Crocs be able to reach the Maple Bowl for a 3rd consecutive season? 

Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride

The Seinäjoki Crocodiles are a good team, but can they be great? That is a question that can't be answered until the 2024 season is over, but history is not on their side. The Crocodiles appeared in 10 Maple Bowls since their inaugural season in 1987.Only one of those appearances (in 2001) has led to a Maple Bowl victory, while the Crocodiles have recently suffered losses in their two most recent appearances. 

Despite a 10-2 record, the Seinäjoki Crocodiles looked unbeatable during the 2023 regular season. Even in a couple of close calls, it felt like destiny that the Crocodiles would win a second Maple Bowl. A choke job in the Maple Bowl game would deny them of any such glory. The Crocodiles finished last season on the wrong end of a 27-7 shellacking at the hands of the Porvoo Butchers. As mean as that seems, it's accurate of a team that just didn't have it when it mattered most. 

But let's be clear, 2023 is over. This new Crocodiles team doesn't have revenge on their minds, they have redemption in their hearts.

Some things Never Change

Head Coach Christian Wrangståhl has been relieved of his duties a week before the season begins.

Despite the change at the Head Coach position, much of the Crocodiles staff & personnel will remain the same from last season. The biggest non-change is Running Christian Powell as he enters his 7th season in the Maple League. Powell is one of the main catalysts for the Crocodiles being in the playoffs consecutively for the past 6 seasons.

Powell & Friends

The Seinäjoki Crocodiles will have another Christian on the team in quarterback Christian Arrambide. This will be Arrambide's first season as a professional, after having a successful career at Kentucky Wesleyan College. In three years as the Panthers quarterback, Arrambide threw for more than 5,000 yards and scored over 50 touchdowns. Arrambide will be a good fit to the Crocodiles offensive unit, being a true dual-threat quarterback with big play abilities.

The new quarterback will be able to distribute the ball to a strong cast of skill players. Import receiver, J’Kobi Reddick (McPherson College), is expected to be the top receiving target this season. Reddick is a dynamic player who can be utilized in various ways for the Crocodiles offense. His speed and explosion allow him to turn simple catches into big plays, something the Crocodiles will need this season. Janne Särkelä is the big play Finnish receiver for the Crocodiles, and will be an easy target for the new quarterback to connect with. Särkelä is a tall receiver at 6’4 , and a matchup nightmare in the red zone. He also has some of the best touchdowns celebrations, mostly because he scores so much. His brother Joel Särkelä is another receiving target for the Crocodiles offense. He is a good route runner who makes impact plays when teams underestimate his talent level.

The Crocodiles offensive line is good, but will look different than last season. Tuomas Hvitfelt will be returning as the leader of the group, and the addition of Morgan Moore (Florida A&M) will solidify the bookend tackles for the Crocodiles. The interior of the line will include Miguel Mäkinen and a few other players to fill out the group. The personnel is different, but similar results are expected as the Crocodiles have proven more than capable of putting together a good offensive line unit. 

As mentioned earlier, Christian Powell will be handling the running back duties for the Crocodiles. Powell is as consistent as they come at the running back position, and we can expect that to continue this season. No matter the production of everyone else, Powell will get a lot of yards, score touchdowns, and make game changing plays for the Crocodiles. In Powell we trust.

Meet the New-Look Crocs Defense

The Crocodiles have added a dynamic duo to their linebacker group with the additions of Charles Akanno and Fa'avae Fa'avae, both alumni of the University of Idaho. Although both were signed as linebackers, Akanno’s experience as an edge rusher will likely translate to him playing defensive end for the Crocodiles. Combined with Arttu Tapola and Saidou Jallow, the Seinäjoki Crocodiles should have one of the best linebacker groups in the Maple League.

The secondary of the Crocodiles will have ball hawk safety Eric Irvin returning, as well as young prospect Aatu Tuokko. Both safeties are able to make the tough open field tackles sometimes needed, and offer great help coverage as well. At this time there is no confirmation on the return of cornerback Heikki Toivola, who was a key component to the Crocodiles success in pass coverage. If he returns, this unit is once again one of the top in the league. If Toivola does not play this season, the Crocodiles will lean on Eemeli Tuovinen, Joona Sarvikas, and additional teammates to step up in his void.

Usually an area of strength, the Crocodiles defensive line will be a position of concern this year. Swedish Import Isak Berg is a great addition to the interior line and can be a consistent run stopper for the Crocodiles defense. Outside of Luka Hietala, the Crocodiles' defensive lineman are not very experienced or exceptionally talented. If Charles Akanno is added to the group, it will be competitive, but the depth and talent of home grown players will determine if this group is up to par throughout the season.

Perfect Pervis Analysis

The Seinäjoki Crocodiles are a playoff team, and a Maple Bowl contender, on paper. I have a slight bias that this team doesn't have the "it" factor after last season's disappointing end. It's very hard to see what will motivate this team outside of revenge, and that type of motivation will dissipate as the season continues on. Christian Powell will most likely break more Maple League records this season, and the Crocodiles will win more games than they lose. If this team can find a way to get fired up to compete every week, they could be back in the Maple Bowl for the third consecutive year. 


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