Sweden: Örebro Black Knights open with victory, but win was bonus for RB Kasper Wedberg

The Örebro Black Knights opened the 2020 Swedish Superserien shortened season with a solid 21-7 win over the Uppsala 86ers and for returning son, running back Kasper Wedberg the victory was a bonus.

After two very good years playing in France, culminating with a French championship last season with the Thonon Black Panthers, Wedberg was supposed to be playing in Germany with the German title holders, the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions. When the season in Germany was cancelled, a despondent Wedberg was delighted to find out that Sweden was going to play. So for him, simply getting back on the field was satisfaction enough

“My motivation was through the roof when I finally was on my way to play in the German Football League with the New Yorker Lions. But when they cancelled and postponed football everywhere my motivation really dropped and I didn’t know if I would play any football this year. When I came back to Sweden I found out that the Swedish league would still be played, so my plan all along was to play in Sweden if the GFL got cancelled.”

On Saturday, Wedberg was back on the field in a football game for the first time since June 29, 2019 when he played in the French championship game. It did not take him long to shed the rust, as he ran for 48 yards and a touchdown, before leaving the game in the third quarter, helping the Black Knights to a valuable win.

“Being back with my old team got me real excited. We had the longest preseason ever and we worked hard every day both on the field and in the gym to get ready for the season. It’s been over a year since my last game, so it was really fun to be back on the field again. I was a little nervous pregame but after the first hit the adrenaline came along and everything felt great.”

For head coach Tim Speckman, this game was special given the circumstances and the fact that it did not look like he would even be back on the sidelines a little over a month ago. The Black Knights appealed to their fan base to raise the funds to bring Speckman back from Germany where he had spent much of the pandemic, and the fans responded.  So he was happy to get a first game behind them:

“Glad we got the first one in the books. Offense was looking good in the first half. Had some dropped balls that slowed us down from being more explosive but overall, for a first game, it looked promising.”

Black Knights QB Jake Sisson Photo: Jonas Domfors

Black Knights quarterback Jake Sisson completed eight of 16 passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns in the win before being forced out of the game at halftime with a shoulder injury. Wide receiver Jimmy Palmborg caught four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown while Johannes Lindeus caught the other touchdown pass. Running back Gustav Skeppner rushed for 73 yards.

The Black Knights took an early 6-0 lead on a Sisson to Palmborg 14 yard scoring pass but Uppsala answered on the next possession with quarterback Olle Hesselgren hitting Ayden Seo with a 23 yard touchdown pass and with the extra point went up 7-6.

Wedberg capped a 10 play, 44 yard scoring drive with a five yard plunge into the end zone to open the second quarter to give Orebro the lead back, 12-7.

Sisson marched the Black Knights 50 yards in 10 plays late in the quarter and connected with Lindeus for a touchdown to extend the lead to 18-7 at the half.

Joey Cafferky kicked a 34 yard field goal in the third quarter giving Örebro a 21-7 lead that would hold through the end of the game.

Black Knights linebacker Eric Murphy knocks down a pass Photo: Jonas Domfors

Despite the lack of scoring in the second half, Speckman was happy with the result given the fact that Sisson had to leave the game:

“Of course once our quarterback went down we had to lean on the run game and limit what we were doing. The Oline played very well and allowed us to grind out the win.”

The Black Knights defense held Uppsala to just 80 yards of offense and four first downs the entire game which of course pleased the head coach.

“On defense I was really happy. Our guys played hard, swarmed to the ball and got a lot of pressure up front. Anytime you can limit your opponent to seven points you have a shot at winning so the D did their part and then some.”

The injury to Sisson was troubling but according the Speckman it was not season-threatening. Still, he admits it is hard to predict:

“It’s still a bit early to say exactly how bad it is or how long he will need. He’ll see a second doctor tomorrow. He’s feeling better but because it’s his throwing shoulder it’s hard to estimate. Definitely not season ending.”

Black Knights HC Tim Speckman Photo: Jonas Domfors

For Wedberg, it was a game to remember simply because he was back home after a two-year absence:

“I’ve missed playing at Behrn Arena with the Black Knights. We had a good team win in the season opener and that’s what we needed. I am really proud of everyone on the team.”

Örebro now heads to Carlstad on August 29 to face the Carlstad Crusaders, who lost their opening game of the season 18-12 to the Stockholm Mean Machines

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