With just two weekends remaining in regular season play, the Swedish Superserien hits a critical stage with the top three spots still up for grabs.
This weekend’s games will be pivotal.
So far though, it has been the defending champion Stockholm Mean Machines who have looked the most impressive, winning all four of their games. They square off Saturday, September 19 hosting the 1-2 Uppsala 86ers at home while on later in the day the 3-1 Carlstad Crusaders will face the 1-3 Örebro Black Knights at home.
Saturday, September 19, Uppsala 86ers (0-4) @ Stockholm Mean Machines (4-0)
Based on the numbers, this game would seem to be a mismatch. Stockholm enters unbeaten with a 4-0 record while the 86ers have not won a game in four attempts.
In the first game between these two teams, the Mean Machines blanked Uppsala 41-0 and have only looked stronger since then. In that game, which was quarterback Tim Morovick’s first full game in two years, he looked solid throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another 92 and one score. The 86ers were undone during a four minute span in the last two minutes of the first half and first two of the second during which time Stockholm scored three touchdowns, boosting their lead to 28-0.
Stockholm is the highest scoring team in the Superserien averaging 35 points a game while the 86ers are the lowest having scored just 13 points total. Morovick has thrown for 404 yards in two games while backup Jan Weinreich has thrown for 406. They have tossed 13 touchdown passes between them. The receiving corps is led by Edvin Almeida Taborda, Pär Lindelöf and Ben von Jagow and with Alpha Jalloh now joining the lineup, this is an even scarier group for opposing teams. The Mean Machines lead the league in overall offense, passing and rushing. Timmy Goransson gives them a solid ground game and if Morovick is healthy he more than adds to it.
For Uppsala, finding a quarterback has been the issue. Gustav Bowall has stepped in for the injured Olle Hsselgren but without any consistency. Last week, young Cristoffer Dessezar stepped in and threw for 130 yards. However, for this game, it is likely the 86ers will choose young Victor Ekberg, quarterback for the European Championship silver medal winning Swedish U19 national team. Ekberg saw limited action in game 1 and has a strong arm and has shown signs of poise in the pocket. Hopefully a chance to start will help him. Top receiver for Uppsala is Oscar Nevermann who is also the team’s third leading rusher. Leading rusher is Josh Akena who is also the leading tackler. With a thin roster (last week they only dressed 25 players for a road game), this will be a tough assignment for the 86ers.
Saturday, September 19, Carlstad Crusaders (3-1) @Örebro Black Knights (1-3)
This is the game of the week in Sweden. The Örebro Black Knights are desperate for another win with the end of the regular season fast approaching while Carlstad needs to keep pace with Stockholm in a battle for first. A win in this one means a showdown next week at home against the Mean Machines for first place.
In the first game, Carlstad managed to fend off the Black Knights, coming away with a tough 14-6 victory. In that game, Örebro starting quarterback Jake Sisson was missing while Carlstad’s Danny Farley was seeing action for the first time and was 8 for 12 for only 86 yards in limited playing time.
This game has a lot on the line so expect to see both starting QBs. Still, Black Knights backup Dammy Agbabiaka, who started in the first game between the two teams, can be dangerous although inconsistent. Last week, he scored two late touchdowns against Stockholm and was on the verge of pulling his team within striking distance again turning the ball over. The running game has been bolstered with the addition of Team Italy running back Mike Gentili who is also a dangerous returner and receiver. Look for Örebro to use him all over the field. He has just played for the Helsinki Roosters in Finland’s Maple League where he had an impact immediately although the team was ultimately eliminated from playoff contention. Jimmy Palmborg is the team’s leading receiver with Johannes Lindeus a distant second. Defensively, Örebro relies on defensive lineman Sebastian Nilsson along with the Murphy twins, Eric (linebacker) and Josh (defensive back) as well as linebacker Filip Jonsson.
Carlstad quarterback Danny Farley, facing the worst team in the league against the pass, will likely start to open up the game this week, throwing to Jacob Bergwall, Kevin Börzsei, Robin Juhlin and Alexander Segerfeldt. Last week, he threw for 209 yards and three touchdowns with Bergwall (76 yards), Juhlin (51) and Börzsei (51/2 TDs) his key targets. Emil Knutsson rushed for 103 yards and 2 TDs and took over the league rushing lead.
On defense, Carlstad relies on linebacker Christian Kuylenstierna who tops the league with 26.5 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss. Mattias Eriksson is right behind him with 22 tackles. The Crusaders ball hawking secondary leads the league in interceptions with six with defensive back Edward Onamade picking off two passes.
With so much on the line in this game, this could by anybody’s game but Carlstad has been more consistent so the edge goes to them.
Graphics: Igor Lazarevic