The Helsinki Roosters will welcome the Kuopio Steelers to the Velodrome in Helsinki, Finland Friday, July 31 in a rematch of the last two Maple Bowl championship games as Finland’s Maple League continues its first round of historic, “post coronavirus lockdown football”.
These two teams met three times in 2019 with the Steelers winning the first two games, 57-41 and 20-14. However, Helsinki won the all important final matchup, the championship final, whipping Kuopio 50-6.
For the defending champion Roosters the 2020 season will be paired with a new attitude focusing on developing and winning through their homegrown Finnish players. That being said the Roosters goal remains the same as almost every year, defend their title as the top team in Finland.
On offense, two homegrown players that will be featured this season are quarterback Miro Kadmiry and running back Karri Pajarinen. Kadmiry is coming off an excellent season where he threw for 51 touchdowns and 3,213 yards. Pajarinen and the Roosters’ running game will offer balance to the offense. Pajarinen is poised to have another productive season coming off of a 2019 campaign where he averaged 105.8 yards per game on the ground.
Defensively, the Roosters will be anchored by veteran defensive lineman Okku Outinen. In 2019, Outinen had three sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss. Head coach Juha Hakala believes he is one of the keys to the Roosters defense in 2020.
“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.”
For the visiting Kuopio Steelers, their goal hasn’t changed either. Head coach Pekka Utriainen is confident this year can be the year the Steelers will be hoisting the trophy.
“We feel we are ready to compete again. The goal before the Covid-19 hit was to win the Maple Bowl and nothing has changed in terms of that.”
On offense, the Steelers will return quarterback Seth Peters for his fourth season. Peters threw for 31 touchdowns and 2,669 yards last season. One of Peters new weapons will be newly signed running back Lamar Caswell. Caswell is coming off of an amazing senior year at Trine University where he ran for 2,294 yards his senior season.
Defensively, the Steelers have added two new import players to their already talented unit. Linebacker Kadel King joins them after a phenomenal 2019 season with German Football League semi-finalists, the Frankfurt Universe. King totaled 20 tackles for a loss and 2 interceptions for the Frankfurt Universe of the GFL in last season. Another newcomer from the German Football League will be edge defender Semmie Radji. Radji is looking forward to taking on the defending champions on Friday.
“They’ve been the defending champions for a while so I’m sure its going to be a great challenge and a good game see where we are at as a team”
Friday’s game could be the preview of the 2020 Maple Bowl matchup. The game will be full of returning and new talent to two of the Maple League’s best teams.