Finland’s Maple League Playoff Preview: Wasa Royals

The 2017 Maple League playoffs are finally here!! After 15 weeks, only the Helsinki RoostersWasa RoyalsHämeenlinna Huskies, and Porvoon Butchers have a chance to win the Vaahtera Malja! It’s been a very interesting season, seeing all of the playoff teams look like the best team in the league at some point. But now as the first weekend of playoff games approaches, I’d like to tell you a little bit about the best four teams in Finland. Today we look at the Wasa Royals located in Vaasa, Finland.

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WASA ROYALS (9-3)

Photo Credit: Samppa Toivonen

OFFENSE

PERFECT: Potent, explosive, dangerous, & unstoppable are just a few words I would use to describe the Wasa Royals offense. Despite a rocky start to the season, quarterback Justin Sottilare has returned to his gun slinging ways and the Royals offense has benefitted from it tremendously. American receiver RJ Long leads an internationally talented group of receivers that includes Spencer Cutlan (United Kingdom), Nicholas Peterson (Sweden), and Jussi Kaas (Finland), that is a matchup nightmare for most teams each week. Since the Midsummer break this group has been on a tear through the Maple League and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

DEFENSE 

PERFECT: The Royals defense is suffocating. The defensive line, led by Efe Evwaraye, constantly pressures opponents’ quarterbacks, while the rest of the defense has an “11 people to the ball” mentality that results in gang tackling, turnovers, and limited yards after contact. The speed of this defense to the ball is what makes them such a difficult group to defeat. A slight hesitation or indecision by any offense will turn into a big play for this fast defense.

Photo Credit: Samppa Toivonen

KEY PLAYERS

PERFECT: There are a lot of good players on the Royals roster, but RJ Long is the key to their success. As a receiver, he is hands down the best in the Maple League, but adds even more value to the Royals team when they find different ways to get the ball in his hands. A player to keep an eye on is running back Tom Suoste. Since the Royals have shifted more to a passing attack, his presence has diminished, but in the playoffs, time of possession will play an important role, and that’s where he will shine. Cornerback Rufail Khalifa is a physical player who guards the best receivers in the league each week. Nicholas Peterson plays an important role for the Royals, giving them depth at receiver, but also creates big plays in the return game at moments when it is needed the most.

Photo Credit: Jukka Salo

X-FACTOR

PERFECT: For the Wasa Royals, the x-factor is swag. Yea, I used the word swag! To be politically correct, confidence would be more appropriate. The Royals came into this season with very high expectations, and looked the part before any games were played. That quickly went away as the team spent the first half of the season trying to find themselves. Since the midsummer break, this team looks like they are having FUN! You can see that they are playing with light hearts and pure passion for the game. They are relaxed and trust what they are doing. Their touchdown celebrations are even getting more entertaining! That’s swag, and that’s what the Royals use to play their best football.

Photo Credit: Samppa Toivonen

GAME INFORMATION

The Maple League Playoffs start Saturday, August 26, with the Hämeenlinna Huskies (3) versus the Wasa Royals (2) at Kaarlen Kenttä, Vaasa 15:30 UTC +3. Sunday, August 27, will be the Porvoon Butchers (4) versus the Helsinki Roosters (1) at Myyrmäen Jalkapallostadion, Vantaa 15:30 UTC+3. Both games will be televised on the Ruutu subscription service. Good luck to all the teams and players involved!

 

*For more articles by Perfect Pervis check out his Blog

Perfect Pervis
Perfect Pervis is a football enthusiast from Texas City, Texas. Perfect currently resides in Finland, playing & coaching American Football and writing a blog about the football culture in Europe.
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