Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders Head to Swedish Final for 7th Straight Year

It took the Carlstad Crusaders a quarter to get rolling but once they did there was no stopping them as they overwhelmed the Uppsala 86ers 43-0 Saturday in the first of two Swedish semifinal games. Crusaders quarterback Anders Hermodsson threw three touchdown passes and ran for another while running back Brett Koepp added one while Cliff Stokes has his second interception return for a touchdown in manhandling the 86ers.

This will be the seventh straight appearance in the Swedish championship game for Carlstad.

Both teams opened the game tentatively and it was Uppsala who moved the ball the best driving down deep into Carlstad territory twice but coming up empty handed both times.

Sweden - Carlstad v Uppsala6

The Crusaders offense struggled until a high punt snap by Uppsala on a fourth down early in the second quarter gave Carlstad the ball on the 86ers seven yard line. Three plays later Hermodsson carried the ball in for the game’s first score.

Late in the second quarter Hermodsson guided the Crusaders on a 17 play, 83 yard five minute drive finally hitting receiver Harry Routledge from four yards out to give Carlstad a 14-0 halftime lead.

Sweden - Carlstad v Uppsala7Once the Crusaders scored on their opening drive of the third quarter to make it 21-0, the 86ers seemed to fade. Their mistakes mounted like having a touchdown called back due to an ineligible player being downfield. Meanwhile the Crusaders continued to gain momentum scoring a fourth touchdown late in the third as the Koepp/Hermodsson ground game took over. The four play 50 yard drive was too easy as Uppsala’s defense began to wear down.

With a 28-0 lead entering the fourth quarter Brett Koepp took over hauling in a 57 yard pass from Hermodsson and then finishing the drive with a 24 yard touchdown gallop to extend the lead to 35-0.

Carlstad eased off but Cliff Stokes snagged an errant Jeff Welsh pass at his own 33 yard line and raced untouched to the end zone with Routledge adding the two point convert to seal the 43-0 win.

Hermodsson finished the game completing 20 of 34 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns while Koepp rushed 10 times for 81 yards and a score. Koepp also caught four passes for 78 yards. Uppsala quarterback Welsh completed 33 passes for 274 yards, but nothing in the red zone which was the 86ers downfall. They played well between the 20 yard lines but not across. The Crusaders held the league’s leading rusher Jonathan Wikstrom to 28 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Sweden - Carlstad v Uppsala - Stokes

Cliff Stokes has had 2 interceptions for touchdowns in 2 games

The Crusaders head into the final to face the Örebro Black Knights for the third consecutive year as the Black Knights upset the previously undefeated Tyresö Royal Crowns.

However, it was not certain until late Sunday night that the Black Knights, despite their on-field win, would be playing in the final. Apparently Örebro played their semi-final game with three junior players whose eligibility is in question. The Black Knights allegedly filed too late to have the players added to the roster. The matter was ultimately decided by the Swedish American Football Federation’s Competition Committee after the game was originally awarded to Tyreso.

A sad way to determine a finalist in a championship game.

Photo credit: Hans Cullberg

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.