PREVIEW: Clash of the Titans in Sweden as the Carlstad Crusaders Face the Tyresö Royal Crowns

It is rare for two teams to have remained undefeated and to face each other with only two games left in the regular season but that is case this Saturday as the 8-0 Carlstad Crusaders play host to the undefeated Tyresö Royal Crowns in Sweden’s top match up this season.

Head coach Malik Jackson’s Crusaders have returned to the form that gave them five titles in a row and dominate teams as they did last year in Sweden. They have scored 368 points while allowing only 113 in eight games second only to their rivals Saturday, the Royal Crowns. But more importantly they have hit their stride at the right time of the season.

They made mincemeat of their opponents in the IFAF Europe Champions League beating France’s Thonon Black Panthers 41-6 and then running away with the title with a 84-49 win over the Vukovi Belgrade team from Serbia.

With quarterback Anders Hermodsson in championship form the offense is formidable. Running back Brett Koepp is the engine who powers the backfield and he is on a roll. However, they will be facing perhaps the best front four in Sweden although new arrival Efe Evweraye will likely miss this game. Nevertheless, Andrew Preston has been having a banner year at strong safety and can help put pressure on Hermodsson.

Sweden - Tyreso Preston

Andrew Preston making another tackle

Last week Orebro’s quarterback Grant Welp was running for his life for much of the second half against the Royal Crown front seven.

Tyresö is having a great year themselves and head coach Andreas Ehrenreich has had his team dominating opponents much the same as Carlstad has. The Black Knights were tougher than expected last week though. Nevertheless, despite the one interception Colby Kirkegaard was on target especially in the second half. After falling behind 13-6 at the break, the Royal Crowns scored 17 unanswered points to win 23-13, shutting down the Black Knights in the process. Running back Joseph Saker is also crucial to this offense which has outscored Carlstad in Sweden racking up 380 points while giving up only 112, one less than the Carlstad defense, in eight games.

Carlstad’s defense suffered a couple of blows in the game against the STU Northside Bulls. Although the Crusaders cruised to a comfortable 60-24 win they lost two key starters from their defensive squad as safety Jack Moro is out of the season with a suspected torn ACL while linebacker Christian Kuylenstjerna also suffered an injury and will miss this game.

Head coach Malik Jackson is concerned but not in a panic:

“There is no question that the loss of two players of that caliber is a serious blow, injuries are part of the game and this team has shown how it can respond to adversity.”

Sweden - Carlstad - Flemstrom2

Olof Flemstrom battling

Viktor Johnson is expected to rotate over to replace Moro at the safety spot while Olof Flemström will shift from defensive end to linebacker with young Alex Tylander moving up to starter on the defensive line.

With Moro missing, the Crusaders secondary will have to find a way to deal with Fredrik Isaaksson and Pär Lindelöf perhaps the best one-two punch receivers in Sweden.

Tyresö has also suffered the loss of starters offensive tackle Olle Norberg, kicker Hampus Simon and slot receiver Christian Nielsen in addition to Evweraye

Nevertheless, the Royal Crown linebackers are solid with Pontus and Markus Westman along with Erik Auge playing very aggresively. Defensive lineman Okko Outinen and hard-hitting corner Philip Minja are also tough for offenses to scheme against.

The calendar has been marked all year in anticipation of this game.

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.