After a long 4 months of games, the playoffs are finally here! It has been a season with two main narratives: 1) Will anyone beat the Roosters? 2)Who will get the final playoff spot? Both of these narratives have been answered, so now what do we look forward to? It’s the playoffs, have NO expectations! This is win or go home ball. In American Football there is no consolation game, you either make it to the finals or you don’t. These playoff teams had 16 weeks to work all the kinks out, get the proper personnel, and prepare for this ONE SHOT! The only thing that fans can expect to see this weekend is the Best from the Best. There will be no mercy given by anyone, this is for ALL the marbles!
Seinäjoki Crocodiles (11-1) vs. Wasa Royals (6-6)
Game Day Information: Facebook
Live stream: Ruutu.fi
Who are the Crocodiles?
If you don’t know who the Seinäjoki Crocodiles are, get from under that rock please. The Crocodiles boast the top passing game in the Vaahteraliiga, thanks to the talented Justin Sottilare at quarterback and a dominant receiving group. Most teams have a go to wide receiver, or even a dynamic duo, but the Crocs have four receivers you have to respect.
Timmy “Top Snake“ Thomas
Always a big play threat, Thomas led the Maple in touchdown catches and amassed over 1k yards receiving, while constantly being labeled the #1 receiver and drawing the best defensive coverage all season.
Spencer “I Don’t Get Tired” Cutlan
If you think Timmy is a handful, try keeping up with #88 as he torches defenses on a regular basis, kicks the extra points and field goals, does kickoffs, and in rare cases of fourth downs he even handles punting duties.
André “Fades” Feuerherdt
He runs other routes, but at 193 cm André makes every high pass look even better as he goes up and gets it. Don’t let the neckpad fool you, this big guy is a big play threat at all times.
Niko Lester – The Man, The Legend
Cornerback, Running Back, Returner, Receiver, this guy does it all, and does it well! Whatever the Crocodiles ask of him, he does and he does it great. One of the most dynamic players in the Maple League this year, Lester is always the best athlete on the field no matter the capacity.
To compliment this offense, the Crocodiles have one of the top defenses in the Maple League. With their offense putting up big points weekly, the defense does a great job of limiting opponents success despite the large number of opportunities. The defense is anchored by a very talented secondary.
Tuomas “Thing 1” Leinonen
The first half of a very dynamic cornerback duo, Leionen has matched up well against all receivers he has faced which is why he leads his team in interceptions and pass breakups.
Toni “Thing 2” Haukkamaa
The second half of the duo is just as talented as the first. Despite consistently being undersized against his opponents this season, Haukkamaa has proven that size doesn’t matter by racking up interceptions and passes defended.
Pierre “Everywhere” Couragueax
Playing the Safety position brings a lot of responsibility and Courageaux accepts that. Interceptions, pass breakups, forced fumbles, and making tackles are all included in a typical game for the athletic safety. Pierre is one of the top players on the crocodiles in terms of tackles and passes defended, which explains why he is everywhere no matter the play.
Juhani “Don’t Forget” Koivumäki
The safety defends the pass game better than most and makes solid tackles when needed. He is not the most exciting player to watch, but someone has to do the dirty work , right? Just don’t forget about him!
Wasa Royals Make history
The Royals have a great team this year, but you can find that detailed information elsewhere, I’m going to inform you of the history being made this weekend. The Wasa Royals originated from the West Coast Vikings, who were created in 1985 and formally introduced in 1994, and have a 3o year history you can read about on their website, Royals.fi . This Vikings organization spent a short period in the Maple League from 2001 to 2003, where losing was the only thing they experienced.
Fast forward through a decade of losing and lack of organizational direction, in 2012 with Seppo Evwaraye as the president, the Wasa Royals competitive men’s American Football team was created. Technically, this team is a revamped version of the original West Coast Vikings, but besides location & historical records there are NO similarities between the two teams. The Wasa Royals have done nothing but win since their inaugural season in 2013 where they went undefeated in route to being the Division II Rautamalja champions. This was followed by another championship season winning the Division I Spagettimalja trophy in 2014. Last year was another great year for the Royals as they went 7-2 in Division I before losing to the Tampere Saints in the semifinals.
This year has been the first taste of defeat for the Royals in terms of overall record. Usually accustomed to being one of the best teams in the league, the Royals find themselves at 6-6 and underdogs in their first Maple League playoff game. There are many factors to consider entering this game, but win or lose Wasa has made history making the playoffs every year of their existence thus far. If you are a Royal fan or supporter I suggest you do everything in your power to attend this game in Seinäjoki and be a part of this historic moment for the organization.
I believe this will be a close game no matter the score. The two times these teams met before each contest was decided by 9 points in favor of the Crocodiles. A lot has changed in the past month and both teams will play with a heightened sense of urgency, but I think the Crocodiles will be the winners of this contest. I will not attempt to guess the score, because I am just a man, not a God. Good luck to both teams!
For additional Information on the Maple League playoffs checkout Gridiron.fi