Helsinki Roosters getting set to kick off ‘historic’ shortened season

The defending Finnish champion Helsinki Roosters are getting ready to play their first football game in almost a year and only two months later than originally scheduled when they host the Kuopio Steelers on July 31.

Finland’s Maple League is the first league in Europe, and perhaps the world, to kick off a “post-coronavirus American football season”.

Also playing in the first week will be the Helsinki Wolverines and the Seinajoki Crocodiles as well as the Wasa Royals who will face the Porvoo Butchers.

The Maple League will play a truncated season with only half the number of regular season games, starting July 30 with Maple Bowl XLI scheduled to be played at Lahti stadium on September 12. Each team will play only five games during the regular season.

Roosters head coach Juha Hakala is excited to get back on the field:

“We have prepared for this season from last October and had that 1-2 month break due to covid-19 in April-May, so our guys are really eager to get on to the field and kickoff a season that should have started for us with the international games in April.”

Helsinki enters the shortened season without imports and will rely solely on their Finnish players.

Anchoring the offense is national team running back Karri Pajarinen. arguably the top Finnish ball carrier according to Hakala:

“Karri has great vision, excellent balance and speed. He is very hard to bring down one on one. He needs to be gang tackled.”

Starting quarterback for the Roosters will be another national team player, Miro Kadmiry, who led the team to the Finnish title in 2019.  The receiving corps will be led by Alexander Wasiljeff, while the offensive line is anchored by Tony Koskinen.

“For defense our strength is our defensive line, led by veteran Okko Outinen who has a high motor to track down running backs and if left alone in pass rush will create pressure and win lots of battles around line of scrimmage.”

Key to the linebacking crew is Akseli Vartiainen, the team’s third leading tackler in 2019. Behind him in the secondary is defensive back Viljo Lempinen.

Hakala has praise for his coaching staff:

“We have the most experienced staff in the league including both national team coordinators, Mikko Koikkalainen on offense and Kalle Karppinen on defense. He will co-coordinate the defense with Sampo Ranta who is also the u19 national team defensive coordinator.”

The Roosters will play a total of three home games and two away with the regular season finale on August 27 against crosstown rivals, the Helsinki Wolverines.

Roosters schedule

July 31: Kuopio Steelers @Helsinki Roosters

August 6: Helsinki Roosters @Seinäjoki  Crocodiles

August 13: Porvoo Butchers @Helsinki Roosters

August 21: Wasa Royals @Helsinki Roosters

August 27: Helsinki Roosters @Helsinki Wolverines

 

AFI
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