Finland’s Maple League heads into the semifinal stage starting Friday, September 6 with the top four teams squaring off.
The Helsinki Roosters, who finished the regular season with an 10-2 record and in first place, will play the fourth place Seinäjoki Crocodiles (6-6) while the second place Kuopio Steelers (9-3) will take on the Helsinki Wolverines (7-5) who ended up in third.
The Roosters and Crocodiles faced each other twice during the regular season with Helsinki coming out on top both times, 29-21 and 61-36.
Roosters quarterback Mira Kadmiry, who was the second leading passer in the league in pass, threw for 651 yards and 12 touchdowns in both contests, shredding the Seinäjoki secondary. Nnamdi Agude was unstoppable catching a total of 17 passes for 329 yards and eight touchdowns in the two games. For the Crocodiles, running back Christian Powell was the key, rushing for 235 yards and four touchdowns while quarterback Jonathan Baker had 432 yards passing, throwing four touchdown passes.
In other words, this will be the Roosters passing attack against the Seinäjoki running game. To say the Crocodiles are the underdogs here would be an understatement. The Roosters have reached the semifinals every year since 2012 and not lost a a single one.
The Steelers and Wolverines traded wins during the regular season with Helsinki winning the first game 54-21 and Kuopio the second in a back-to-back series, 40-21.
The keys to both teams lie in the quarterback/running back combinations. For the Steelers, Seth Peters has been steady at quarterback and in the two contests between the teams has thrown for 362 yards and four touchdowns. Gerard Johnson has rushed for 314 yards and three touchdowns. Their counterparts for Helsinki, Robert Johnson and William Young are a formidable duo. Johnson threw for a total of 442 yards and four touchdowns while Young had 391 all-purpose yards, rushing and catching the football.
This is the first year back in the Maple League for the Wolverines since 2014 when they dropped out of the top division. The Steelers returned to the top league in 2018 for the first time since 2002 when they finished dead last. Last year, they reached the final and were downed by the Roosters.
This one is a toss up.
The Maple League semifinals kick off tonight with the Roosters hosting the Seinäjoki Crocodiles.