Finland’s Helsinki Roosters Host Sweden’s Uppsala 86ers in Northern European Football League Opener

The defending Finnish champion Helsinki Roosters will play host the the 2016 championship finalist Uppsala 86ers Saturday in the opening game of the Northern European Football League tournament at the Helsinki Velodrome.

This will be the first time these two teams have met.

The Roosters won the fifth of five consecutive championship titles in 2016 but the team has undergone some change since then. For the first time since 2012 they will have a new head coach as Marquette Floyd takes over from Juha Hakala who is now coaching in Italy.

Also new to the team this year is quarterback Brandon Connette who was the top rated passer in the German Football League in 2016 with the Dresden Monarchs. He threw for 4,747 yards and 68 touchdowns averaging almost 300 yards per game last season. In other words, expect an aerial attack Saturday.

Connette is feeling comfortable with the offense even though he has only been in Finland couple of weeks:

“A lot more comfortable. I was comfortable even after the first practice we had a week ago and now that we had one more week it’s even more comfortable. So I think we are ready to play the game and I think after last week we’ll be in a really good situation to put on some points on the board Saturday.”

Roosters’s head coach Marquette Floyd believes that all the hard work during off-season will pay off in the end:

“We have watched a lot of film and also the coaches have the game plan together. I’m confident if we execute we will have some success.”

The Uppsala 86ers have also added changes including a new quarterback as Kieran McDonagh replaces Australian Jared Stegman.

The 6’2″, 225 lb McDonagh had an outstanding career at Portland State University throwing for 5,913 yards and 42 touchdowns in his three years starting for the Vikings. He is joined in the backfield by lightning quick Canadian running back Victor St Pierre Laviolette (5’10”, 180 lb) who played junior football for the Regina Thunder where he averaged 100 yards rushing per game and scored 19 touchdowns in 17 games.

The 86ers added another Australian receiver, Blake Marklew from the Australian national team and the Brisbane Rhinos. With the Rhinos last season he was a prolific scorer catching 19 touchdowns in nine games.

For both teams it’s the first game of the season, so preparation to it is partly a guessing game. Neither team knows what to expect with revamped rosters on both sides.

Kickoff is 12:30 pm local time (11:30 am CET, 5:30 am EDT). Live stats will be available

Uppsala offensive coordinator Darwin Paris Salaam II is feeling confident about the team’s chances

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