Preview: Finland’s 2016 Championship Game – Maple Bowl XXXVII

Finally, Vaahteramalja – Maple Bowl XXXVII – has arrived! My Preseason rankings proved to be way off, as well as my Midsummer re-do. I was correct about the Helsinki Roosters and Seinäjoki Crocodiles being the top 2 teams, even though I posted the Roosters as the #1 team both times. But rankings and seeds don’t matter now. This Saturday there will only be two teams fighting for the right to be Maple League Champions!

Crocodiles Keys to Win


Photo Credit: Seinajoki Crocodiles

Big Plays by Play Makers

Offensively, the Crocodiles are the best passing team in the Maple League. The Seinäjoki fans are calling Justin Sottilare and company “Air Force 1” because they spend so much time in the air! Timmy  Thomas, Spencer Cutlan, André Feuerherdt, and Niko Lester give the Crocodiles as many possible options as necessary in the passing game. Having these four talented receivers as well as a very intelligent quarterback, makes exploiting matchups a key ingredient to the offensive success of the Crocodiles in this game.  Steven Strother is the X factor for the Crocodiles. Strother is a true running back type, not afraid of contact but willing to use his speed to his advantage to make big plays.

Stop the Run

The Crocodiles have a pretty stingy defense that has a tough night ahead of them against the Roosters. The French duo of Robin Mouton and Mathieu Fayard must put a stop to the running attack of the Roosters. The Crocodiles have the best passing defense in the Maple League thanks in part to the secondary Fantastic Four: Pierre Courageux, Tuomas Leinonen, Toni Haukkamaa, and Juhani Kouivumaki. Also in the mix for secondary operations is the talented Niko Lester who is sometimes tasked with shadowing opponents’ number one receiver. This talented group will be of no use if the Roosters are able to establish their dominant run game.

Avoid Curtis Slater

The Crocodiles are a great team, well coached, talented, and full of play makers. But Curtis Slater is a game changer. Whether he is at safety or lined up as a punt returner, the Crocodiles need to locate him and avoid him. It only takes one mistake by the Crocodiles for Curtis Slater to make the them leave this game with regrets.Roosters Keys to Win

Roosters Keys To Win

Mic Brown

Finland - Roosters-Trojans 2016 semis - Mic Brown-2

The Roosters have been a dominant team all year, minus the two games they have faced the Crocodiles. I see no reason to expect anything different this game. Helsinki has spent most of the season playing role players to help make their team a more experienced group as a whole. The Roosters have had great success with this strategy, but this is the championship game. This is what the entire season has been geared for, Strive for Five. Mic Brown has been an integral component to the Roosters development process over the last year. He has sat out games to help mentor and coach his teammates to success. He is the heartbeat of the Roosters in 2016. Wherever Brown leads, the Roosters will follow. That is why Mic Brown will be the best version of himself in this game, because anything less than his best would not be accepted by his teammates or coaches.

Run the Ball

Jaycen Taylor, Alexander KuronenKarri Pajarinen, and Mic Brown. These four players make the Helsinki Roosters rushing attack the most dangerous in the Maple League. Kuronen  has great vision and patience to know exactly when to explode through gaps to make big plays.  Taylor is arguably the best running back in the Maple League and definitely one of the top in Europe this year. There also is young Karri Pajarinen, the rookie.  What he lacks in game experience, he more than makes up for with blazing wheels. The last piece of the run game puzzle is Mic Brown. Whether it is using designed runs, or scrambling on pass plays, Brown’s running ability is always a dangerous threat.

Shoot that Plane down

The Roosters defense has a tough task ahead of them. They must stop “Air Force 1” and do it consistently for an entire game. Curtis Slater leads a strong secondary group including Pekka Rantala, Akseli Olin, and Ville Rontu for the Roosters.  Turning the Crocodiles into a ground force is extremely hard, but possible if the Roosters can create a hostile environment and create turnovers in the passing game. Then the responsibility will be on Sebastian Karbin, Roni Salonen, Aleksi Aitala, Lauri Antilla, and the rest of the Roosters front 7 to put a clamp on Steven Strother.

Game Information – Maple Bowl XXXVII


Photo Credit: SAJL

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sonera Stadium

Urheilukatu 500250 Helsinki

Live stream:

Live stats:

SAJL Vaahteramalja Preview Preview

Seinajoki Crocodiles Preview

Helsinki Roosters Preview

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Perfect Pervis is a football enthusiast from Texas City, Texas. Perfect currently resides in Finland, playing & coaching American Football and writing a blog about the football culture in Europe.