As the Swedish league returns to action this weekend, the game of the week in Sweden may well be two time Swedish finalist the Örebro Black Knights traveling to Stockholm to take on the powerful Tyresö Royal Crowns.
The undefeated Royal Crowns (7-0) sit atop the Swedish standings with the league’s leading offense having scored 357 points in seven games while giving up 99. Örebro are sitting precariously in fourth at 4-2 but having only scored 97 points total. On the other hand, the Black Knights defense is ranked third in Sweden allowing only 117 points in six games so far in 2015.
Tyresö head coach Andreas Ehrenreich inherited a team that had been to the Swedish semifinals twice in a row in 2013 and 2014 and was bounced twice in a row by the very same Örebro Black Knights. Motivation will not be a problem.
Ehrenreich feels good about the team’s readiness for this game:
“We had maybe the best week of practice we have had all year, and all the nagging injuries seem to have healed up. We know what they will probably do and are well prepared for it.
This game could be decided on the line of scrimmage. Colby reads very well and fast and handles the rush very well. If our line can give him the protection we have a chance.”
Royal Crowns starting quarterback Colby Kirkegaard has been playing superb football and with a receiving corp which includes Fredrik Isaaksson and Pär Lindelöf he has become one of the leading passers in in the country. Running backs Josef Saker and Emil Knutsson have been solid all year and complement each other well.
Linebackers Pontus and Markus Westman as well as Erik Auge lead an aggressive Tyresö defense which includes strong safety Andrew Preston, defensive lineman Okko Outinen and hard-hitting corner Philip Minja. Tyresö welcomes back defensive lineman Efe Evweraye to the lineup and the Finnish All European player will be an outstanding addition.
Örebro head coach Randy Beverly has gradually turned the Black Knights into a power running, defense first team. In their final game before the break, they held the high scoring Kristianstad Predators to just six points in a 9-6 win. And Beverly is still seething about those six points they gave up.
“We were trying a new long snapper and he sailed the ball over the head of the punter deep in our zone. I still think about that play.”
Örebro’s new “old” approach may not yield the flashy scores and points on the scoreboard, but it does produce wins and that is all they worry about. Quarterback Grant Welp, who was comfortable in a spread offense, has adjusted well and handles the “run-first” offense he commands with authority. With Anton Kallvik running the football along with Frenchman Cesar Hebel at fullback the Black Knights are averaging more than 200 yards rushing per game.
Beverly wants to see a full effort in all four quarters:
“My team has really developed since the beginning of the year. But they (the Royal Crowns) are playing at a high level in all segments and we will have to play a full game of football without letup if we are going to have a chance.”
Defensively, the Black Knights look to their linebackers the Murphy twins Eric and Josh, along with Mike Kagafas to make plays. They are an aggressive group and extremely agile. Kagafas also sees time running the ball. Veteran Johan Stål plays corner and gives the secondary stability. Beverly was a corner himself at UCLA and this group has been improving rapidly under his tutelage.
The defensive line has been playing much better with defensive ends Milos Lisanin (aka Lisko Malina) and Aleksi Nystrom leading the way.
Although on paper, the odds would seem to favor the Royal Crowns, Beverly’s squad seems to be buying into his way of doing things. Kallvik missed the last game and will give Örebro added firepower.
This could be an interesting matchup.
Kickoff: Saturday August 1, 5 PM (11 AM EDT)
Pay per View: 69 Swedish Kronor ($8)(Follow the instructions on the screen)