PREVIEW: Maple Bowl XXXV – Finland’s Championship; Helsinki Roosters v. Turku Trojans

Helsinki Roosters look to add Finnish championship to IFAF Europe Champions League Title!


It has come down to this. The only team to come close to the Helsinki Roosters in Finland during the regular season was the Turku Trojans.

Now Helsinki and Turku face each other in the 2014 Finnish championship game – Maple Bowl XXXV – this Saturday in Helsinki’s Sonera Stadium. The Roosters will be aiming for their 17th Finnish title and third in a row. This will be the sixth time these two teams have played in the Maple Bowl with the Roosters having a lopsided edge. They have beaten the Trojans five of the six times.

Maple Bowl Turku Trojans

Trojan running back Jocques Crawford in action again Helsinki.

Both teams showcased strong defensive play in the semifinals to advance to Maple Bowl XXXV as the Roosters beat the Porvoo Butchers  32-0 while the Trojans upended the Seinäjoki Crocodiles 28-7.

The Roosters won both games with the Trojans this year, but never by much. In late July, Helsinki had to come from behind in the second half to beat Turku 48-41 after the Trojans had taken a 27-17 at the break. Trojan running back Jocques Crawford was a beast in that game with 280 yards rushing on 19 carries, scoring one touchdown. The Trojans also added four touchdowns in the air. Then in late August, the story was a little different and defenses were better. The Roosters took a 7-0 lead at the half and won 21-10. Crawford was held to 77 yards on the ground, but even more telling was that the Trojans could only muster 75 yards passing in that game. In fact, the Trojans lone touchdown was a 90 yard kickoff return by Chris Poston.

The Roosters receivers Kimi Linnainmaa, Ilkka Laitinen, Ville Palikainen and Julius Majander will be challenged by a tough Trojans secondary led by Chris Poston and Ville-Valtteri Suojanen. Nevertheless Helsinki receivers led the league in receiving catching an average of 258.5 yards per game.

Rooster quarterback Sean Shelton has really come into his own after arriving to replace injured Robert Johnson halfway through the season. Since then he has averaged 229 yards passing per game with 12 touchdowns. He has also rushed for almost 70 yards in every game making him a potent threat in the air and on the ground.

Helsinki QB Shelton2

Shelton getting set to throw.

On defense the Roosters will face the powerful rushing offense of the Trojans with Crawford leading the way. In last week’s semi-final against the Crocodiles he rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns. The Roosters defensive front led by Aleksi Aitala, Victor Sarvi, Lasse Kankaanpää and Samuli Vehkomäki will have to control the line of scrimmage to limit the chances of Crawford getting up to speed and into the open field where he can do plenty of damage.

Helsinki running back Jaycen Taylor has had an outstanding year himself averaging over 80 yards a game and scoring a touchdown a game. He was a key in the Roosters IFAF Europe championship run.

Helsinki RB Jaycen Taylor2

Jaycen Taylor finds a hole against Trojans.


Pay-per-view LIVESTREAM

Kickoff Saturday September 13 is 6 PM local time (11 AM EST). The game will be streamed live on a pay-per-view basis. Follow the link below.

Follow the Game; Live play-by-play

The game can also be followed via live play-by-play stats using this link:

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.