AFI’s expert panel predicts winners of Finnish Maple League semifinals

It’s Playoff Week in Finland’s Maple League!

Two playoff games will be played this week with the winners advancing the Maple Bowl. This is the moment all the teams have been waiting for! This year the Maple League’s talent is spread out well and any of the four teams have a chance to be champions.

In order to predict these playoff games we asked four Maple League veterans their thoughts. They are two former Maple League quarterbacks and the two current quarterbacks of the Maple League teams that did not qualify for the playoffs 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 Germany. 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 2 time champion of Finland’s 1st division and was the head coach and quarterback of the semifinalists, the Hameenlinna Huskies in 2017. Bedwell is currently coaching at Manchester University in Indiana.

Our two other experts are Miro Kadmiry and Jabari Harris. 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.

Seinäjoki Crocodiles @ Kuopio Steelers

The first of our playoff games will be the Kuopio Steelers hosting the Seinäjoki Crocodiles. The Steelers are coming into this game with an impressive 4-1 record. Winning many of their games by 20 or more points. But their one loss was to guess who… the Crocodiles. Seinäjoki enters the playoffs with a 3-2 record boasting quality wins against the Kuopio Steelers and Helsinki Roosters.

Kadmiry:

“My prediction is that the Steelers will win that matchup. But I believe that Crocs will have what is takes to win it. The Crocodiles passing defense is very good. But now that the game is not on a slippery field, I know Kuopios running back will be a totally different player than he was in the game when they lost. The Crocodiles defense will need to keep Kuopio under 21 points in order to win it.”

Kadmiry’s Pick: Kuopio Steelers

Harris:

“Kuopio lost a thriller against the Crocodiles 2 weeks ago in Seinajoki. However the Steelers are playing at home, in the playoffs that’s a different challenge. This game will come down to not only defensive play but QB play. I think the game will be close but the Steelers will pull it off unless Cutlan can use his arm a bit more.”

Harris’s Pick: Kuopio Steelers

Sottilare:

“I’m excited to watch this game. Spencer Cutlan has been getting the job done and is objectively grading out well. Coach Joni has done a great job adapting this offense towards its strengths and as history has shown, a good defense and consistent rushing attack wins championships.”

Sottilare’s Pick: Seinäjoki Crocodiles

Bedwell:

“The Crocodiles are playing their best football right now and Spencer Cutlan has done an admirable job in his transition to QB, but the Steelers have some kind of mystique about them when playing at home. They have won 12 straight games there over the past three seasons and I see Seth Peters and company doing just enough to pull out the win on Saturday.”

Bedwells Pick: Kuopio Steelers

Helsinki Wolverines @ Wasa Royals

The second playoff game features the Wasa Royals hosting the Helsinki Wolverines. After a 3-0 start  Wasa has now lost two games in a row by large margins while the Wolverines are coming off of a huge win against the Helsinki Roosters last week. Earlier in the season the Royals defeated the Wolverines in Helsinki 36-26. That game would’ve been closer if Wolverines quarterback Chris Forcier hadn’t missed time with an injury.

Kadmiry:

“This is a hard one. The Royals have had two big losses. If they are able to get their game back to their own level, it could be that they will win it. Now it depends on how the Wolverines offense is playing also. Their offense has been relying on quarterback runs, now they have Micky Kyei as a running back who has the ability to break big plays also. Now I’m just wondering how they are going to attack the Royals man coverage.”

Kadmiry’s Pick: Helsinki Wolverines

Harris:

“I think the Wolverines have went into the playoffs with momentum winning their final 2 games and repairing their defense. If they show up in Vasa playing the way they played last week against the Roosters I see them pulling off the upset against the Royals. Defense will win this game.”

Harris’s Pick: Helsinki Wolverines

Sottilare:

“I’ve seen both teams play well throughout the season. Each of them have some fire power on both sides of the ball, but I’m a big believer in coach Booker and his system. It comes down to execution on the field but that execution is much easier when players are put in the position to succeed.”

Sottilare’s Pick: Wasa Royals

Bedwell:

“After a 3-0 start the Royals have lost their last two games by a combined 61 points. Not the momentum you want heading into the playoffs. The Wolverines on the other hand, have won their last two games since making adjustments to their coaching staff following an embarrassing blowout loss the Steelers. Their offense added a new dynamic last week by using the electric Micky Kyei in the backfield and I think that will ultimately be the difference. Wolverines win in a close one.”

Bedwells Pick: Helsinki Wolverines

Tune in this weekend to watch on AFI.TV !

9/5/20 16:30 Seinajoki Crocodiles @ Kuopio Steelers

9/6/20 16:30 Helsinki Wolverines @ Wasa Royals

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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