LIVESTREAM Finland: Kuopio Steelers @ Wasa Royals, 15:30 CET (3:30 pm, 09:30 am ET)

The Wasa Royals will host the defending Maple Bowl Champion Kuopio Steelers as both of these teams kick off their 2021 seasons today. The Steelers expect to repeat while the Royals are eager to make a run at the championship in what projects to be another competitive Maple League season.

Kuopio’s roster has gone through some major changes since their 2020 championship season. New quarterback Joey Bradley comes to Kuopio after a long career in Europe that featured stops in the Czech Republic, Spain, and Poland. Bradley’s offense should be aided by division three All American running back Le’Anthony Reasnover and French national team receiver Alexandre Jefferson. The new faces in the Kuopio offense mix with key returning offensive lineman Roope Korhonen, Oskari Laitinen, and young receiver Jaako Paanen.

Kuopio Steelers @ Wasa Royals, 15:30 CET (3:30 pm, 09:30 am ET)

Defensively, edge defender Semmie Radji returns. Last season the Dutchman was one of the country’s most feared pass rushers using his length and speed to get to the quarterback. Radji is part of a fierce defensive pass rushing unit that features Finnish veterans Janni Lindqvist and Aatu Suhonen. As if that wasn’t enough coach Pekka Utriainen has brought in former Miami of Ohio (NCAA D1) defensive lineman Ikeen Allen. This defensive line should be the strength of this Steelers team and one of the Maple League’s most feared position groups. Today that pass rush will face an athletic Royals quarterback and an experienced offensive line.

The Wasa Royals enter 2021 looking to build off of a semi final 2020 season. Management has brought back head coach John Booker and quarterback Brandon Gwinner. Gwinner was one of the league’s most exciting passers last season as his accuracy and athleticism gave this Wasa offense big play potential. Running backs Tom Suoste and Nico Barrow also return to Wasa and should provide stability and physicality in the ground game.

On defense, safety Tommy Kazocha has joined the Royals after playing the previous two seasons for the Steelers. Today, he’ll face his former team that he helped build into champions in 2020. At the line of scrimmage, the Royals have brought in 6’3″ 305 pound Ray Lima. Lima was an all-conference defensive tackle for Iowa State (NCAA D1) before spending a training camp with the Miami Dolphins. His experience, size, and strength could be a game changer for this Wasa defense.

This game gives Finnish football fans a great first look at the defending champion Kuopio Steelers. The first test for coach Utriainen and his revamped squad will be against an experienced Wasa team that brings back much of its 2020 semi-finals roster.

Watch the game live here. Kuopio Steelers @ Wasa Royals, 15:30 CET (3:30 pm, 09:30 am ET)

Wasa Royals roster

Kuopio Steelers roster

 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football