Carlstad Crusaders Capture 7th Straight Swedish Title

The Carlstad Crusaders downed a scrappy Uppsala 86ers team 34-21 to win the Swedish championship game for the seventh consecutive season and cement their legacy as the one of the best teams in the history of Swedish American football.

Carlstad quarterback Philip Juhlin was outstanding as he threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another 76. His performance earned him well-deserved MVP honors. Time and again he was able to scramble away from Uppsala’s front seven and take off on his own or find a receiver downfield.

Running back Brett Koepp, in his final game in Sweden rushed for 75 yards and scored the game’s first touchdown. Receiver Josh Hartigan who had moved over from defense early in the season, had seven receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns while Jacob Dahre caught two passes for 67 yards and Andre Holgård had 39 yards receiving and a touchdown. Holgård also kicked four PATs and two field goals to lead all scorers with 16 points.

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Photos: Hans Cullberg

Uppsala quarterback Jared Stegman was outstanding in a losing cause completing 19 of 41 passes for 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns while rushing for 45 yards and another touchdown. Ricardo Miller had six catches for 99  yards and a touchdown and Chia James caught four passes for 75 yards and another touchdown to lead the 86ers receiving corps.

Carlstad took control of the game scoring two first quarter touchdowns as Koepp took one in from seven yards out and then Juhlin connected with Hartigan late in the period  on a seven yard touchdown pass after Dahre had hauled in a Juhlin pass for 58 yards to set up the touchdown.

An Uppsala safety and Holgård  field goal accounted for the rest of the first half scoring as Carlstad took a comfortable 17-2 lead into the locker room.

Holgård extended the lead to 20-2 with a 23 yard field goal before Stegman got the 86ers offense untracked scoring himself on a 29 yard run to narrow the gap to 20-8. Juhlin found Hartigan on the very next series to give Carlstad another big lead 27-8.

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An outstanding kickoff return by Jacob Adelman gave Uppsala the ball deep in Crusaders territory and Stegman connected with Miller for a 29 yard touchdown pass and Uppsala again closed the gap to 27-14 as the crowd sensed a shift in momentum.

Marcus Persson returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to the Uppsala 29 yard line and four plays later Juhlin found Holgard to give Carlstad a 34-14 lead.

Uppsala had a chance to close the gap midway through the fourth quarter but Carlstad linebacker Christian Kuylenstjerna forced a Miller fumble on Carlstad’s four yard line to snuff out an otherwise brilliant drive. Stegman finally threw a 33 yard touchdown pass to James with less than a minute to go but Carlstad recovered the onside kick and began celebrating their seventh straight championship.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.