Seinäjoki Crocodiles are set as Finland’s Maple League ushers in ‘post-COVID-19 lockdown’ era

As Seinäjoki Crocodiles head coach Samu Juppo prepares his team for a historic, “post-COVID-19 lockdown” Maple League season, he is fully aware that he has a special squad.

“This year we have a lot weapons on offense. Everyone knows the talent of our running back, Christian Powell, or CP, and hopefully we can spread out defenses with our other weapons, so that we are able to make CP even better.”

As the only men’s football league in the world, Finland’s Maple League will kick off the season with six teams. In fact, teams in Finland’s top league have been practicing in pads with full contact since the beginning of June.

The Maple League will play a truncated season with only half the number of regular season games, starting July 30 with Maple Bowl XLI scheduled to be played at Lahti stadium on September 12. Each team will play only five games during the regular season.

The Crocodiles will travel to Helsinki on July 30 to face the Helsinki Wolverines in the first game of this historic Maple League season. These two teams met twice in 2019 splitting the series. Helsinki took the first game, at home, beating the Crocodiles 47-29. Seinäjoki got their revenge though late in the year, whipping the Wolverines 41-13.

In 2019, Seinäjoki finished the regular season with a 6-6 record, reaching the semifinals where they were eliminated by the eventual champions, the Helsinki Roosters.

This year, Juppo’s Crocodiles will again definitely have a rushing attack with Powell in the backfield. In 2019, Powell had an outstanding year rushing the ball leading the league by a good margin with four 200+ yard games, winding up up with 1,620 yards averaging 135 yards a game.

Seinäjoki has made an interesting decision for the new season, converting wide receiver Spencer Cutlan into a quarterback. The 29 year old native of Great Britain, hauled in 487 yards in passes in 2019, scoring seven touchdowns. He also kicked five field goals and 46 extra points, scoring 105 points in the process, second best on the team behind Powell. Juppo is comfortable with the move:

“When Spencer steps into something he does with his whole heart. It has been great to follow him in his new role as quarterback. He is a great leader for the offense.”

The Crocodiles receiving corps is impressive with the recent signings of two of Europe’s premier receivers, Nate Robitaille and Tim Thomas.

On defense, the Crocodiles are led by their Finnish linebacking trio and Juppo is filled with confidence:

“Our linebacking trio of Jaska Värinen, Saidou Jallow and Veikka Lehtonen is pretty competitive. Jaska’s ability to move and fill around the field is amazing.”

Seinäjoki has added a key element to the defensive secondary as Alex Germany has joined the team after spending the last three seasons in Italy. The 30 year old California native showed off his versatility with the Bergamo Lions last season, finishing as the second leading rusher on the team, the leading receiver and one of the keys to the defense. In fact, after the season, he was clocked at a 4.36 laser-timed 40 yard dash. He will definitely have an impact.

“Alex is new player in our team. He is multi-talented athlete who can play in multiple positions. I’m really looking for to see him on the field in games.”

The coaching staff of the Crocodiles gives Juppo a feeling of confidence:

“Our coordinators Joni Mäkelä and Tuomas Leinonen have been doing a great job with the team. We are going to see enjoyable football from the Crocodiles this season. For me it has been easy to work with this talented coaching staff.”

Also playing in the first week will be the Helsinki Roosters and the Kuopio Steelers as well as the Wasa Royals who will face the Porvoon Butchers.

Crocodiles schedule

July 30: Seinäjoki Crocodiles @Helsinki Wolverines

August 6: Helsinki Roosters @Seinäjoki Crocodiles

August 14: Seinäjoki Crocodiles @Wasa Royals

August 22: Kuopio Steelers @Seinäjoki Crocodiles

August 27: Porvoon Butchers @Seinäjoki Crocodiles

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