LIVESTREAM: Swedish championship game Carlstad Crusaders v Örebro Black Knights July 8 4:30 pm CEST (10:30 am EDT)

The Carlstad Crusaders and Örebro Black Knights get set to do battle Saturday, July 8 in a game that has almost become a ritual of late. The Swedish championship game. The Crusaders have won the last seven in a row and three of those last four wins have come against Örebro.

The two teams dominated the Swedish league in 2017 and both won their semifinal games fairly easily. Carlstad defeated the Uppsala 86ers, their 2016 title game opponent, 47-23, after taking a 44-7 halftime lead. The Black Knights downed the Stockholm Mean Machines, a team back on the rise in football in Sweden, 36-14.

The recent championship game history between these two teams does not bode well for Örebro.

Two years ago in the Swedish championship game, Carlstad exploded for 28 points in the second half to beat the Black Knights 42-17. In 2014, the Crusaders beat Örebro 49-9 and the year before 47-25. Örebro was eliminated in the semifinals in 2016.

Nevertheless, although Carlstad has beaten the Black Knights in both regular season games this year, 34-0 and 49-21, there is still not much separating the two. Örebro played well in the first half of both those contests but second half miscues against a team that does not make many mistakes, took their toll.

Carlstad QB Philip Juhlin throwing against Orebro earlier this season Photo: Tommy Andersson

Carlstad quarterback Philip Juhlin is having maybe his best season ever. He directs the offense like a maestro. He led the league in passing by a wide margin this year throwing for 2,550 yards and 36 touchdown passes. He has a receiving corps that makes life miserable for opposing secondaries. Jacob Dahre, Marcus Johnson and Alpha Jalloh are, as one coach put it,  a “pick your poison” trio. Stop one and the other two will hurt you.

Running backs Christian Forsman and Viktor Toresson give Carlstad a solid one-two punch on the ground. And Juhlin can be a dangerous runner too.

And, as so many opposing coaches have proclaimed, it all starts with the best offensive line in Sweden.

Defensively, as has been said so many times before, Carlstad has the best front seven in Sweden with Olof Flemström and linebacker Christian Kuylenstjerna (third leading tackler in the country) leading the way.

However, as daunting as this may look, Örebro has still averaged almost 43 points a game this season, and did score three touchdowns against Carlstad. Quarterback Corbin Lawler, leads an offense that can control football games. Running backs Kasper Wedberg and Marcus Hudritsch wound up 2nd and 3rd in rushing in Sweden with 621 yards and 517 yards respectively. Wedberg scored a league-best 11 rushing touchdowns. And in both games against Carlstad, they proved they can move the ball.

Black Knights LB Eric Murphy hauling down Photo: Yamamoto Shinji

National team receiver Fredrik isaksson is beginning to get back into form and Jonathan Gihl finished fifth overall in receiving yards and has speed to stretch defenses. The offensive line, anchored by center Sebastian Nilsson, once described as the toughest lineman in Sweden, can put Carlstad’s front seven to the test.

Defensively, Örebro‘s linebacking corps led by Eric and Josh Murphy is very quick.

The X factor may be kick returner and safety Danny Wynne. With his speed he constantly gives the Black Knights good field position on returns and he is always around the ball.

The key will be the front seven and their ability to get pressure on Juhlin. If he has to hurry, as Finland’s Helsinki Roosters proved in the second half of their win against Carlstad, he can make mistakes.

Will Örebro be able to surprise and end the Carlstad championship streak, now standing at seven? Or will the Crusaders march to their eighth straight?

Kickoff is 4:30 pm CEST (10:30 am EDT) and the game is being broadcast live on CMore in Sweden (PPV)

Watch the game live (Pay per View) by clicking here. Click on the button that says “Prova 2 veckor gratis – Try it for 2 weeks for free” . Then fill in your email address, name and password and click Skapa konto, Open account. Add your credit card number. You have two weeks free viewing. After that, if you don’t cancel it costs 99 Swedish kronor, or about $11 per month.

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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