Sweden’s Örebro Black Knights back in championship game, face daunting task

Every team in any league anywhere in the world wants to reach the last game of the year. Well, for the fourth time in five years, Sweden’s Örebro Black Knights find themselves in the final game in the Swedish Superserien, again. And again up against their old nemesis, the seven-time champion Carlstad Crusaders.

The Black Knights defeated the Stockholm Mean Machines 36-14 last weekend in the second semifinal in the Superserien to advance to the title game again.

Two years ago in the Swedish championship game, Carlstad exploded for 28 points in the second half to beat the Black Knights 42-17. In 2014, the Crusaders beat Örebro 49-9 and the year before 47-25. Örebro was eliminated in the semifinals in 2016.

You think the Black Knights would like to get this monkey off their backs?

According to head coach Aaron Fiddler, it is not something he thinks about. Fiddler took over as head coach of the Black Knights in 2016 and since then has fashioned a 15-4 record reaching the semifinals both years and moving on this season. In fact, the only team that has beaten Örebro in the regular season for the past two years has been, you guessed it, Carlstad.

Örebro Black Knights HC Aaron Fiddler Photo: Håkan Ghil

“Of course, we know full well, our record against the Crusaders. But you have to enter every game forgetting about a loss but remembering the lessons learned from that loss.”

That is what the Black Knights have been doing this week.

They have lost to Carlstad in both regular season games they have played this year, 34-0 and 49-21. Both games were closer than the score indicates. In the first, Örebro drove down to the Crusaders red zone three times in the first half without scoring a point. In the second, with the score 26-14, a couple of second half mistakes made the difference.

“In both games, there was s shift in momentum in the second half. It was little things and we just didn’t play well enough at key stages to win.”

Örebro relies heavily on the running game with their running back tandem of Kasper Wedberg and Marcus Hudritsch the second and third leading rushers in Sweden.

“That front seven of Carlstad’s is tough. We know have to get quicker to get past the defensive line and into the second level. But they are so quick, it is not easy to do.”

Quarterback Corbin Lawler struggled in the first game against the Carlstad defense but in fairness, he had not faced a defense like it all year until then. In the second game, he threw three touchdown passes, as he did a better job of adjusting to the pressure.

Defensively, Örebro has to find a way to get pressure on Crusaders quarterback Philip Juhlin.

“They have the best offensive line in the league so we have to do a better job getting to Juhlin. He has so many targets to choose from, if he gets time he can hurt you.”

Nevertheless, if ever there was a time to buck that trend it would be now, at the end of Fiddler’s second season of five with the team. And he is glad of the chance:

“I am so happy we have this opportunity. Last year we slipped up and lost in the semifinal. This year, we have given ourselves a chance. That is all you need is a chance.”

 

 

 

Roger Kelly
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.
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