The Porvoon Butchers have 35 years of of American Football history. They have 6 Maple League Championships and are always in the discussion of best teams in Finland. But 2016 was not so kind for the Butchers as they finished 2-10 in the Maple League and missed the playoffs. I spoke to new Head Coach Jimi Roiko about his team returning to the Porvoo Way in 2017.
The first thing needed to return to winning is to make a change. Coach Roiko made lots of changes to improve the team this offseason. Starting with training, the butchers have a more structured practice schedule. The Butchers new schedule included 3 to 4 practices each week in addition to gym workouts. “We made quite a turn around compared to last offseason. Our DC(Defensive Coordinator) Jan Vilkko held 2 to 3 times a week practices to get our guys movement and elasticity better. Then we had positional trainings once a week.” Another change was qualitative information. The Butchers players have been tested 3 times this offseason and everyone has seen measurable improvements comparing October to March (Last month of testing).
Making changes is necessary, but building a good team is a difficult task every year in the Maple League. Most teams lose players to life situations, so securing next season’s team is very important for future success. “We started to build the team right after last season. Our first priority was to get 3 American imports in October so we could create an offense and defense playbook.” Those American imports are (QB) Jordan Moore, (RB) Darion Hall, and (LB) Troy Roach.
THE FINNISH TEAM
After securing national players and American Imports, most teams would like to fill in certain spots with EU players to complete their rosters. Not the Butchers, they are going all in with the Finnish players they have. Coach Roiko is confident, “Our guys can compete with European players.” The Butchers don’t feel the need to bring in European players just to play in the summer. Roiko explained “Unless a European guy lives in Finland, so we can have them in the offseason.” This is the Porvoo Way, put in work year round and grow as a team.
To be able to bypass bring in EU imports, the Butchers must be confident in their local players. “We can compete against any team in the Maple League.” Coach Roiko can back that statement up with some pretty good local youth talent considering he has spent the last 6 years helping coach the Porvoon Butchers youth program. A few of the names Roiko mentioned that should be watched this season are (OT) Väino Pääkönen, (WR/K/P) Daniel Luoma, (WR) Mikko Seppänen, (WR) Arttu Erikklä, and (LB) Jussi Mäkelä.
Not only do the Butchers intend to put their Finnish players against anyone in the Maple League, they also have more specific long term goals. “We hope to someday have an active roster of 35 Porvoo Guys. A true Porvoo team would be awesome.” The Butchers are definitely taking the right steps to make that someday sooner rather than later.
2017 MAPLE LEAGUE GOALS
The Helsinki Roosters are the favorites to win this season, but games are played on the field not with past reputations. When asked about how the Butchers would fare this season, Coach Roiko stated “Other teams don’t expect us to be able compete with the top teams, so we will be a surprise to them.”