There has been one constant in the Maple League the last half decade, The Helsinki Roosters are the best. Heading into the 2017 season the Roosters are the team to beat, but what about everyone else? If you follow Europlayers, American Football International, or The Podyum media outlets, you know that teams have been making moves this offseason. The Wasa Royals and Hämeenlinna Huskies immediately come to mind of teams gearing up to take on the Roosters. But Teemu Majander sees another team ready to shake this league up, The Maple League Underdog Tampere Saints.
THIS IS NOT LAST YEAR
Last season the Saints missed the Maple League playoffs after looking like the 4th place team early in the season. They had some personnel issues to address in the middle of the season which could account for them missing the playoffs. I asked Coach Majander what changes have they made to prevent this situation again. He stated that the lesson learned from last year’s issues is “Stuff will happen” and that some things are just out of your control. Majander went on to explain that the Saints still played very hard despite their personnel issues and only missed the playoffs by one game.
Last year was the Saints first year in the Maple League since climbing through the lowering divisions. For a rookie season, the Saints played well and showed they belong in the Maple League. Majander agrees that last season was proof that the Saints do belong in the Maple League with the top teams in Finland. He explained “The question now is can we win? And can we win consistently?” Those are the questions the Saints will definitely answer this season. Now that the team knows what it takes to win in the Maple, time to show it in 2017.
THE 2017 TAMPERE SAINTS
There are only two teams in the Maple league with returning head coaches. Teemu Majander is the only one who was in the Maple League last year. Speaking about the advantage of retaining the majority of the Saints coaching staff, the coach stated “It certainly brings on stability”. Other teams have fluctuation that effects each team differently, but Majander and the Saints continue the “building on top” philosophy. This is the philosophy of building on top of last season for the next season.
The Saints have made offseason moves to improve the team with both local talent and imports. Some people do not know what to expect from the roster that has only gotten better in my opinion. So, I asked Majander to name a few players who should help contribute to their success this season. Of course the American imports can be expected to make big impacts, but the Head Caoch highlights the guys who have been in Tampere working all offseason. Here are a few key players: Benjamin Ylipää (S), Anton Pouttu (DB), Janne Kreus (DL), and Tukka Lehtonen (RB). Majander goes in depth about what to expect from each of these young players in the audio interview.
WHY ROOT FOR THE UNDERDOG?
Obviously, the Helsinki Roosters are the favorites to win this season, but games are played on the field, not with reputations. I asked Coach Majander, what makes the Saints a competitor for the title? “Our secret weapon is being the Underdog and always ready to attack”. The Saints rarely make it into the conversation of one of the better known teams in Finland, and they like it that way. Majander trusts his players and his team to play the underdog role throughout the season. So why not root for the Underdog in 2017?