Maple League playoff QBs Miro Kadmiry and Jabari Harris are ready for Saturday’s bout

When the Helsinki Roosters and Porvoo Butchers take on each other in Finland’s Maple League semifinal matchup this weekend, the two quarterbacks will be in familiar territory.

Both Helsinki Roosters’ quarterback Miro Kadmiry and his counterpart with the Porvoo Butchers, Jabari Harris, have been fequent participants in the Maple League playoffs. 

Harris signed his first contract with the Butchers in 2014 and ever since the 29-year-old signal-caller has played in Finland, missing the playoffs only once. Harris has even won a Maple Bowl with the opposing team, the Roosters, in 2016 and making a home for himself along the way:

“Besides having work and family in Finland, the country is a very easy place to adapt to. The culture here is a bit more open than it was in Poland back when I played there in 2016, and the language barrier isn’t a big issue. Finland is very Americanized in a lot of ways, so it’s easy to get comfortable here. Not to mention, it has one of the top football leagues in Europe, so that’s a plus.”

After four Finnish teams and two stints in Poland, Harris came back full-circle to Porvoo in 2020. His ability to both pass and run with consistency has led to a combined total of 1,873 yards this season, second only to Crusaders quarterback Robert Johnson. This is something that has not gone unnoticed by Kadmiry:

“On offence Jabari has played very well, spreading the ball all around and making big plays with his feet. I think they play and look like a solid team this year. I would say that is their biggest strength as well.”

But to Harris’s disappointment, the Butchers didn’t have the same hype surrounding them last year. The Finnish Maple League was one of the few leagues in Europe able to get a season off – even if it was only five games – but Porvoo and Harris must have surely been wishing they hadn’t after losing all five. Harris dug in and bounced back, however.

He has committed to the Butchers and the Finnish talent that surrounds him:

“For me, the season has gone as expected. We are literally right where I figured we would be this winter, which is a good place to be. Not at the bottom, not at the top. But right in the middle where anything can happen. I think our team has made an amazing improvement for the prior season, or seasons and we are proud of what we have accomplished thus far. 

“This year we were more balanced than last. We have many weapons involved in both the run and pass game that allow us to be more dynamic and creative. We have a lot of men with play making ability and it has reflected on our success this season.”

The opposing quarterback, Roosters’ Miro Kadmiry is also no stranger to playoff football in the Maple League. Although the 30-year-old Helsinki native didn’t get his big break at quarterback until 2018, he has been to the playoffs now five times. But for Kadmiry it doesn’t make a difference how many times he’s been there:

“In the Maple League this is my fifth run in the playoffs. I personally feel like it doesn’t help at all if it’s my first or 10th time in the playoffs. It is a win or lose situation. And we have to play well to be able to win it.”

And “we” really is the optimum word here. Although thequarterback has lit the league up with 21 passing TD’s and 1,683 yards while being the only starting Finnish quarterback in the league, his defense has run rampant. Finnish standout LB Roni Salonen has led the number two defense in the league as he continually batters his opponent behind the line of scrimmage.

This is a factor that Harris has not forgotten from the last time the teams met:

“In my opinion, their defensive line and linebacker group is the game changer for them. They bring pressure and do many different things with their personnel. We have to do a great job adjusting and getting favorable matchups. I have to get the ball out of my hands quickly and make them work.”

The Roosters and Butchers have already met twice this year. The games were however decidedly different, despite the Roosters winning both. The first game ended in a 42 – 14 blowout, but the second, a week later, came down to the wire as the Butchers regrouped and narrowly lost out 39 – 35.

This time however, Harris feels confident and know what he has to do to secure the win:

“We have to be disciplined and make fewer mistakes than we have in the previous games. The Roosters are a well coached team with veteran players that know how to play in different situations of the game. If we can play smart football, and together, I think we have a good chance to win.”

But for Miro Kadmiry and the rest of the Roosters, they will surely have other plans.

Make sure to watch the Roosters and Butchers in the Finnish playoffs this weekend on Game time is Saturday, September 4 at 17:30 CET (5:30 pm, 11:30 am ET).

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.