Sweden: Stockholm Mean Machines get by Carlstad Crusaders in defensive battle, both coaches looking for improvement

The Stockholm Mean Machines downed the Carlstad Crusaders 18-12 in the opening contest of the Swedish Superserien’s“post COVID-19 pandemic” shortened season Saturday and without question, defenses ruled.

It was the first game in 14 months for both teams and as perhaps could be expected, the offensive units lagged behind in their execution with the defenses of both squads playing well.

For the first game of the year, Stockholm head coach Fredrik Pilbäck was pleased with the performance of his defense:

“It was not a pretty game at all but we got the W. I was really happy to see our D ball out.”

Stockholm Mean Machines defense hauling down Carlstad RB Emil Ostlund Photo: Stefan Akander

Both head coaches faced similar circumstances as neither signed American import quarterback was able to play the game. Stockholm’s Timothy Morovick had travel issues related to the pandemic while Danny Farley from the Crusaders suffered an injury during practice. The absence of the starters may partly explain the low score and the fact that the two teams combined for a total of only 357 yards of offense between them. But defenses made it tough for both teams.

Billy BD Kennedy, head coach for the Crusaders was equally pleased with the way his defensive unit performed despite the loss.

“Our defense played solid football. They forced two turnovers and were very stingy in giving up yardage. We feel like we have a nice mix of “old and new.”

Pilbäck admits that this early in the season, the offense always takes more time to gel than the defense.

“Offense takes time. We were okay on the ground but need to compete more during pass/scelly sessions this upcoming week.”

Stockholm Mean Machines QB Jan Weineich facing heat Photo: Stefan Akander

However, Morovick is expected to be behind center this weekend and naturally he will be a welcome addition to the roster says Pilbäck:

“We look forward to have Tim play this weekend against the Uppsala 86ers.”

Kennedy faced a more sudden situation with his quarterback, Danny Farley after he suffered an injury at practice a couple of days before the game. That injury proved to be more serious than initially thought so the decision was made for him to sit out the game and for young Alf Ransjö, quarterback for the Crusaders U19 team, to start:

“It’s hard to put into words all the things that went through my mind when we had to make the decision that Danny could not play. Everything happened over a 24 hour period. I cannot say enough about Alf Ransjö. He finds out Friday afternoon that instead of backing up our import QB, he is starting. Sure we see things we need to improve on, and we will. But to make your Super Series debut in a 24 hour notice against the Stockholm Mean Machine, and it comes down to a final possession is a nice way to break into senior football.”

Stockholm’s Jan Weinreich, who was a quarterback for the Cologne Crocodiles in 2019, threw for 152 yards and two touchdowns in the win and his poise and experience showed. Ransjö did not embarrass himself though, throwing for 128 yards and two touchdowns but was picked off twice, once for a touchdown.

For the Mean Machines, Per Lindelöf was the leading receiver with five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown while Edvin Almeida pulled down three for 43 and a score. Stockholm’s third touchdown came when linebacker Leon Littfinski picked off a Ransjö pass and returned it all the way.

Carlstad receiver Kevin Börzsei scored both touchdowns for his team and had three catches for 56 yards.

Carlstad QB Alf Ransjö under pressure Photo: Stefan Akander

Carlstad trailed 12-0 until early in the fourth when Börzsei scored on a five yard pass from Ransjö. Stockholm increased the lead to 18-6 on Almeida’s touchdown and then Börzsei scored again with less then two minutes left.

Kennedy is aware that there is much to work on with the Örebro Black Knights coming to Karlstad this weekend:

“All in all, we can recognize the areas we need to improve on. We will work on those. We will face an excited and talented Örebro team this weekend. Our goal is simply to improve.

The Mean Machines travel to Uppsala on August 28 to face the 86ers and Pilbäck also realizes that even though his team won, they too have plenty to improve on:

“Overall it was an okay start versus a solid opponent. Special teams need more energy and effort from me. But the plan is continuous progression all the way to the final.”

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