Finland Week 9: Crocodiles Clinch First, Roosters Qualify For Semifinals

The Finnish Maple League is entering the home stretch and the battle for playoff positions is heating up.

 Porvoo Butchers (4-4) 42 vs Vantaa TAFT (0-8) 30

Finland - TAFT v Butchers

On Thursday night and in front of a national TV-audience, the Butchers, helped by their new running back RJ Jackson, sailed to 42-30 win over the winless Vantaa TAFT. Jackson, who played with the Butchers in 2014 and led the league in rushing, wasted no time in making an impact opening the game with a 64-yard gallop and taking the ball in from the three yard line for the game’s first score. Jackson finished the game with 11 carries, 158 yards and three touchdowns.

TAFT had its problems with their starting quarterback Jamal Londray-Jackson sidelined for the game and his back-up hurt on the game’s opening drive. So Finnish national team defensive back Ajseli Olin stepped in and ran the offense after that. The Butchers had accumulated a 35-0 lead late in the 3rd quarter before TAFT got on the scoreboard with two touchdowns from running back Ian Sadon, who finished with 156 yards on 30 carries.

The Butchers will face the Helsinki 69ers next and the game will decide which of the two teams will advance to the Finnish semifinals. TAFT is out of the playoff picture and has two games remaining in the regular season against the Trojans and the Roosters.

Helsinki 69ers (3-5) 19 – Helsinki Roosters (6-3) 40

Finland - Roosters v 69ers2

In the Battle for Helsinki, the Helsinki Roosters came out on top with a 40-19 victory over crosstown rivals the Helsinki 69ers, securing their place in the semifinals. The first half saw both teams trading scores, but in the second half the Roosters were able to pull away. Roosters quarterback Mic Brown enjoyed a good day completing 21 of 27 passes for 307 yards. 69ers quarterback Jabari Harris completed 15 of 33 passes and struggled throughout the day. Roosters wide receiver Kimi Linnainmaa was outstanding catching eight passes for 141 yards while 69ers receiver RJ Long was credited with 181 yards on six catches and two touchdowns.

Roosters running back Jaycen Spears rushed just 13 times for 89 yards but scored three touchdowns to lead all rushers.

This weekend, the 69ers will host the Butchers in a must-win game for the Helsinki squad if they are going to have any hope of making the playoffs.

With just five games left in the regular season, the fight for the last play-off spots and home-field advantage in the semifinals is intense.

Finland - Crocodiles v Trojans7

The Seinäjoki Crocodiles defeated the Turku Trojans in a close game 31-27 and the win enabled them to finish first in the league even if they lose their final game. For the Trojans, despite the loss they can still clinch home field advantage provided they win their final two games.

So the Helsinki Roosters have clinched their play-off spot while the Butchers and 69ers will fight for the last spot this week.  If the Butchers win, they qualify for the semifinals and a win over the Trojans the following week would vault them into third, dropping Turku to fourth place. If the 69ers win, the Butchers can still make it into semifinals, but in that scenario they would need to win against the Trojans and hope that the Crocodiles beat the 69ers.

SAJL is the American Football Association of Finland