Oslo Vikings HC Derek Mann talks about the upcoming Norwegian championship game

The Oslo Vikings take on arch rivals the Eidsvoll 1814s this weekend in the Norwegian League of American Football championship final.

This is the sixth time since 2009 these two teams have faced each other in the final. Oslo has won three of the previous five games, including the last two times in 2016 and 2017.

Derek Mann has been a part of two of those wins. In 2016, he was offensive coordinator and in 2017 head coach. He has also won the Norwegian championship as a player, in 2012 and as head coach twice, in 2017 and 2018. This year, the Vikings are looking at a possible fourth consecutive championship title.

American Football International asked Mann about the pressure of the game and chances of winning and preparations for the game.

American Football International: You are entering the Norwegian championship game unbeaten with a chance to possibly four peat. How much pressure do you feel?

Dererk Mann: I think there is always pressure when it comes to coaching in the championship. Through the years  the Oslo Vikings have created a winning culture around our senior team. That mentality goes from week one of the regular season all they way to the finals. Every week there is pressure to be successful. We know we are going to get every opponent’s  best effort  every time we step on the field.

AFI: You defeated the 1814s in a close game earlier in the year. What will you do differently, if anything?

DM: It was a very close, hard fought game. We turned the ball over too many times on offense the last time we played. It was by far the most all season. We need to take care of the ball this time around. We will not be doing anything drastically different but I do plan on fully opening up our playbook which we haven’t done during our previous games.

AFI: How do you prepare for a big, physical quarterback like Michael Hall?

DM: We will prepare similar to last time. Our D line did a great job getting pressure up front to disrupt the timing on some plays. We had two plays where we had mental lapses and we have corrected those mistakes. Our defensive coaches led by Jesse Alderfer have put together a great game plan for this Saturday. I am really looking forward to watching our defense fly around out there.

 AFI: You have an excellent quarterback in Robert Mehmet. How much freedom do you allow him in playcalling?

DM: Mehmet has done a good job this year distributing the ball around. In the regular season we averaged 42 points a game. Almost all the playcalling comes from the coaches. With that being said, he has the freedom to audible into something he likes or feels will be successful against the look the defense is giving us.

AFI: This is your seventh season with Oslo and third as head coach only. Does this feel any different than in your first championship game as HC in 2017?

DM: It does feel a bit different the third time around. Especially this time, the game will be held at Frogner Stadion ( our home field.) Last time the finals was held at Frogner, I believe was 2012 when I was playing as an import quarterback for my first year in Oslo. It will be a special experience to be able to play this game at home. The organization is working hard to set up a great game day atmosphere for both players and fans. I am really looking forward to stepping out there this Saturday.

AFI: You have been living in Norway for many years. Do you use Norwegian or English with your players or a combination?

DM: I would say it’s about 99.9% English. Everyone here speaks fluent English so it just feels more right to speak English when coaching football.  American football is its own language and I speak it the only way I know. Even the Norwegian coaches primarily coach in English, it is just far easier to convey the coaching points.



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.