The oldest rivalry of American Football in Finland was played on Sunday. For the 56th time the Helsinki Roosters and the Turku Trojans squared off on the gridiron. The Finnish equivalent of the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers was all hype. Roosters won convincingly 38-7, here’s what I took away from the game:
The Roosters are a great Finnish team
I like to talk about the great players I see in games and how they impact their teams, but the Helsinki Roosters are an European powerhouse fueled by Finnish talent. Minus a few European and American imports, the Roosters boast a team full of national team players and the best of the best Finnish talent. Junior players from different teams in Finland gravitate to the Roosters as adults knowing that they will have the chance to play at the highest level instead of being an import fill in. Watching the Roosters prepare for the match they were loose yet focused, happy yet hungry for a win. This team is headed for their 5th straight maple league championship, and I dare anyone to argue anything different.
Micah Brown gave a very unconvincing performance today. I’m a big fan and expect great things from the quarterback in the future, but today was not his best work. Even though he accounted for 4 of the Roosters 5 touchdowns , Brown left points on the board by consistently overthrowing his receivers for the better part of three quarters. He gave his best Russell Wilson impression by making a few long runs out of scrambles, which helped move the stagnant offense at critical parts of drives. Micah played good, I was just expecting great.
Jaycen Taylor Spears or just Jaycen Taylor, (I really don’t know, someone please inform me of the correct name he prefers) was used sparingly today as he recovers from an injury sustained in the Helsinki’s game versus Swarco earlier this year. Even so, when Jaycen had the ball he was electric and I can’t wait to see him carry a full load to help balance the Roosters offense in the future.
Curtis Slater was everywhere he was supposed to be for the defense. Stats wise he might not have been a headline player but he anchored a defense that consistently held Turku to 3 & outs while protecting a lead. This guy also was very effective on punt returns all game.
Bernard Luster had a quiet game in terms of his potential to be the game changer. He was not targeted very much, but made the most of his 3 catches by catching one for a touchdown.
Kimi Linnainmaa was the main receiving target for the Roosters this game, scoring 2 touchdowns on just 5 catches.
Alexander Kuronen was a workhorse today! He was consistently running the ball well all game, obviously Spears has coached him up well. In my best Finnish accent, Hyvää Kuronen!
Turku still has a QB issue
Combined Kadmiry and Berndtsson accumulated 8 completions on 25 attempts for 65 yards for the Trojans offense. Berndtsson attempted more passes late in the second half because the Trojans were so far behind, but basically both quarterbacks were ineffective and provided no answers for Turku’s offensive woes. Chris Douglas had trouble with his footing at the Velodrom in Helsinki. If you have ever been to that stadium you know that the field is pretty much carpet and cleats don’t work on that surface. Douglas did not know this as he slipped several time trying to make explosive cuts. Once he figured this out late in the second half he was more effective but Turku’s offensive linemen were no match for the Roosters rotating 8 man rotation.
Roman Runner needs some help! This guy played wide receiver, nickel corner, safety, and returner. Offensively he was not very effective after shadowing Luster around all game on defense. He did manage to break a long kickoff return for the Trojans only score. As I said last week, this guy always produces, just too bad no one else does.Speaking of not producing, Cameron Gupton is probably the odd man out in Turku. Gupton is not playing bad, but his presence is not making an impact like Douglas or Runner, matter of fact he mostly defended the local Finnish receivers during this game and not very well at that. In my opinion Turku will send him back to the states as they find an American quarterback to improve their offense. The other option would be to keep Gupton and add an American quarterback anyways. Either way Turku has a QB problem!
Maple League competition issues
Four maple league games so far and not one close game? The only team not to play yet is the Porvoo Butchers, who will probably continue the blowout fashion on the losing end. What’s really going on in Finland? Is the talent level between teams that different? Are the styles so different that early on the teams don’t know what to expect? I’m not sure what it is, but I hope it gets better before I have to result to watching Division 1 games to see some competition.