The 2014 Maple Bowl, the 2015 Semi-finals, and now the 2016 Semi-finals, the Helsinki Roosters and Turku Trojans are no strangers to playing each other in the playoffs. The last two meetings have been in favor of the Roosters, but the saying goes “third time’s the charm”, so don’t count the Trojans out of this matchup!
Strive for Five
That’s the 2016 Roosters theme and nowhere in that phrase does it say “lose in the playoffs.” The Helsinki Roosters having been eyeing the championship game at Sonera Stadium since May and have shown no signs of being stopped. Using their rushing attack to do the most damage, the Roosters have the best two back system in the Maple League.
Taylor has rushed for over 1k yards this season while splitting time at the runningback position. He has been the most explosive runner in the Maple this year averaging over 8 yards per carry this year. You can always expect big plays from Taylor, and he never disappoints.
Don’t you dare call him a good Finnish back! Kuronen is one of the best Runningbacks in Europe, period. Kuronen can play all 3 downs and has proved that despite splitting time at the position he is a big play threat too, averaging over 6 yards per carry and being the Roosters record holder with the longest run this season of 70 yards. It’s just crazy that he is option 1B for the Roosters!
The Roosters are not just great at running the ball, they are also the best team in the Maple League at stopping the run. A major key to the defensive success can be credited to the talented Linebacker group.
The Roosters leading tackler has great instinct to get to wherever the ball is. You can expect to see him making plenty of plays.
Santuu is incredibly athletic, which allows him to play both the run and pass without missing a beat. he will be instrumental in stopping the Trojans offense this weekend.
Playing in Austria has helped make Salonen even more valuable to the Roosters squad. His aggressiveness and play making abilities are second to none and complete this linebacker group.
Miikka has proven valuable to the rosters defense this entire season, consistently making plays when needed.
Trojans Key Matchups
Yea, they’re the underdogs, but that does not mean the Trojans don’t have the tools to win this game. Turku will have to utilize it’s roster to full capacity to pull off this upset and stamp it’s spot in the finals.
In Chris We Trust
The single most important player for the Turku Trojans is Chris Douglas. If the Maple League’s leading rusher can be successful against the stout linebacker group of Helsinki, the Trojans will keep this game within reach of victory.
Run Runner Run!
I hope Roman Runner ate his Wheaties, he’s going to need all the energy he can for this game. It’s win or go home (a very long way home to the states), which means Runner will need to be available for defense, offense, and special teams. Keeping up with Bernard Luster or Kimi Linnainmaa will take a lot of energy out of Runner on defense, but he will be needed as well on offense if the Trojans want to put up their best performance of the year.
Shortell Play Tall
Max Shortell will have to play to his height, not his namesake. Shortell has the skill set to be a nightmare for the Roosters secondary if he can keep calm and stay consistent. There is no room for error, one bad pass against Helsinki’s defense could easily result in a touchdown for the Roosters (Curtis Slater). No pressure, but go big or go home!
I think this game will be much closer than any of the previous meetings between these two teams. The Trojans will have to make exceptional plays to gain momentum and distrupt the Roosters gameplan to win. But ultimately, I believe the Helsinki Roosters will win this game and advance to the championship game.
For additional Information on the Maple League playoffs checkout Gridiron.fi