Finland: Wasa Royals on a tear as Maple League hits home stretch

The Wasa Royals won their fifth straight game in Finland’s Maple League last week when they came from behind to  dispose of the Porvoo Butchers 58-31 at Kaarlen Kentta field in Vaasa.

Despite the score, the Royals did not make it easy on themselves, spotting Porvoo a 17-0 lead before turning on the jets. With the Butchers leading 17-3, Wasa exploded in the second and third quarters scoring six unanswered touchdowns, three within the space of two minutes, before the shell-shocked Butchers could respond with a pick six.

At the end of the onslaught, Wasa held an almost insurmountable 44-17 lead.

Wasa WR Nicholas Peterson heading for the end one with teammate RJ Long leading the blocking Photo: Roy But

Quarterback Justin Sottilare completed 26 of 50 passes for 507 yards and seven touchdowns in a game when the Royals posted a total of only 16 yards rushing. Receiver RJ Long made the most use of Sottilare’s passes catching 13 for 317 yards and four touchdowns. Aappo Saloranta hauled in one as did Nicholas Peterson (recently signed from Sweden’s Uppsala 86ers) and Jussi Kaas. Rufail Khalifa added a touchdown on an interception return. Spencer Cutlan  kicked seven extra points and a field goal.

Butchers running back Ricky Stevens had 22 carries for 185 yards and a touchdown while quarterback Danny Farley struggled throwing for 90 yards and one touchdown. He was picked off twice. Daniel Luoma scored on a 44 yard reception and linebacker Ville Kurvinen returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown. Luoma also kicked four extra points and a field goal.

The first quarter belonged to Porvoo however as Stevens opened the scoring on a 73 yard run and then Mikko Seppanen returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown giving the Butchers a 14-0 lead heading in the second quarter. Luoma kicked a 32 yard field goal and Porvoo led 17-0.

And that’s when the game changed.

Following a Spencer Cutlan field goal, Sottilare went to town finding Saloranta for the Royals first touchdown and then throwing a 48 yard touchdown strike to Long, tying the game at 17-17 going into the break.

The second half saw the Royals take complete charge with Long catching two touchdown passes and Kaas another. Khalifa picked off Farley for the fourth Royals third quarter touchdown. With the lead at 44-17 and the ball in Sottilare’s hands again, Kurvinen picked off the Wasa quarterback and returned the ball 30 yards for a Porvoo touchdown.

Wasa DB Rufail Khalifa hauling in an interception Photo: Roy-But

Sottilare must have been seeing the wrong jerseys because he was picked off again on the very next series and Porvoo took advantage as Farley found Luoma for a 44 yard touchdown strike and the lead was reduced to 44-31 with plenty of time left to play.

The Royals quarterback went back to work though and the defense stepped up. Sottilare threw touchdown passes to Peterson and Long to round out the scoring.

With the win, Wasa is in sole possession of second place in the Maple League and has clinched a playoff spot.


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.