AFI’s expert panel predicts winner of Finland’s Maple Bowl!

It’s Championship week in Finland! This year the 2020 Maple Bowl or Vaahteramalja XLI will be played in Lahti, Finland. This championship will feature the Kuopio Steelers who come into the game with a 5-1 record facing off against the Helsinki Wolverines who have overcome a up and down season posting a 4-2 record. That being said there are four quarters left in the season so fans can throw out the records!

In order to predict this years Maple Bowl we asked six Maple League veterans their thoughts. First we will introduce two former Maple League quarterbacks and the four current quarterbacks of the Maple League teams that did not qualify for the championship this year. Who would know better than them.

Our two former Maple League quarterbacks are Stan Bedwell and Justin Sottilare. Sottilare is a quarterback currently playing for the Munich Cowboys in the German Football League. Sottilare led the both the  Seinäjoki Crocodiles and Wasa Royals to the Maple Bowl during his time as a quarterback in Finland. Stan Bedwell is a two-time champion of Finland’s 1st division and was the head coach and quarterback of the semifinalists, the Hämeenlinna Huskies in 2017. Bedwell is currently coaching at Manchester University in Indiana.

Our four other experts are Miro Kadmiry, Jabari Harris, Brandon Gwinner, and Spencer Cutlan. All four of these players were Maple League starting quarterbacks for their respective teams this season.  Kadmiry is the current Helsinki Roosters quarterback who threw for 14 touchdowns this season and won the Maple Bowl in 2019. Harris was the quarterback for the Porvoon Butchers this season, where he totaled 13 touchdowns in only 5 games. Harris has played for multiple Maple League teams in the past including the Roosters and Wolverines. Brandon Gwinner was a true dual threat quarterback who totalled 19 touchdowns (9 rushing 10 passing) this season for the Wasa Royals. Gwinner was able to lead his team all the way to the semi-finals in his first season in Finland. Our final expert is Spencer Cutlan, the quarterback for the Seinajoki Crocodiles. Cutlan is a Maple League veteran who transitioned from receiver to quarterback. Cutlan had 10 total touchdowns in six games and was the league’s best punter.

Sottilare:

“I’m gonna have to go with the Steelers on this one. After watching the full game and seeing how shifty that running back is, I don’t see the Wolverines slowing him down. Should be a good one though. I’m expecting a high scoring game.

Sottilare’s Pick: Kuopio Steelers

Stan Bedwell:

“Less than a month ago, the Steelers defeated the Wolverines 70-6. That is something that will definitely be on both teams minds going into the game. While this can be motivation for the Wolverines, its also a reminder of how dangerous Kuopio can be. On the other side of the spectrum, the Steelers challenge will be not to overlook a much improve Wolverines team. This one will definitely be closer than last time they played. I think it should be an entertaining game. But the result remains the same. The Steelers will win the Maple Bowl for the first time ever on Saturday.”

Bedwell’s pick: Kuopio Steelers

Jabari Harris:

“I think that the Steelers are an all around complete team this year. They have the hottest QB in the League playing in his third Maple Bowl game. I know Seth is beyond motivated to finally finish a great season with a title. On the defensive side, the Steelers are playing lights out. I think the Wolverines have a talented team, but they have holes on both sides that Kuopio doesn’t have, and that’s in the trenches. If it was all about skill they could go Tic for Tac.”

Harris’s Pick: Kuopio Steelers

Miro Kadmiry:

“I’m sure the game will be totally different than what it was when these two faced off in the regular season. The Wolverines have great material that they are using a lot better now. But, I still think the Steelers are overall just a better team. The Steelers have so many imports, and they are all very good players also. But I don’t see it as impossible that the Wolverines would win. Nine times out of ten the Steelers could win this match, but if this is the one game where the Wolverines play there best football and the Steelers don’t. There is a good surprise factor here.”

Kadmiry’s Pick: Kuopio Steelers

Brandon Gwinner:

“My prediction is that the Steelers will win this game. Both teams have great players on both sides of the ball but the Steelers overall are the better team. The Wolverines are hot right now coming into this game. They need to use that momentum they have in order for them to have a chance. They have to play smart and physical. It has to be a whole different ball game than the last time they played the steelers. This will be a fun game to watch and i wish nothing but the best for both teams.”

Gwinners Pick: Kuopio Steelers

Spencer Cutlan:

“This is an interesting match up. Both teams have X factors but I personally think Kuopio will win because of their defense. When AJ is in hulk mode he is sideline to sideline. I don’t think the Wolverines will have that much of an impact in the run game as they did in the semi final because of this. What makes it interesting though is that the Crocodiles proved the Steelers are beatable, the saying goes “if you make god bleed, people will cease to believe in him”. It will be down to the Wolverines coaching staff to exploit the weaknesses of the Kuopio defense to turn this in to a final to remember.

Cutlan’s Pick: Kuopio Steelers

Look for this year’s Maple Bowl to be high scoring game filled with big plays! Both teams will be playing with passion and hunger as they line up for the final time this season with a championship within their grasps.

Graphic: Igor Lazarevic

Alex Malchow
Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football stories from across the globe.
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