Remember the day: Thursday evening, May 18, 2017. On this day, the Hämeenlinna Huskies played their first ever Maple League Football game, and crushed it! The Hämeenlinna Huskies defeated the Tampere Saints 50-0 without any trouble at all. The Huskies had a total of 471 yards of offense and average starting field position was their own 40 yard line. The Saints showed signs of life throughout the game to total 258 yards on offense, but ultimately didn’t have enough to produce any points on the scoreboard.
The Hämeenlinna Huskies started the game with a constant mix of jet sweeps, screen passes, and quick passes to keep the Tampere Saints off balance all the way down the field. Running back Arkadi Meerschout scored the first points of the game with a short run up the middle of the field. This was followed by a Tommi Pinta (WR) one handed catch for the 2 point conversion. Huskies first Maple League lead was 8-0. The Huskies attempted 2 point conversions the entire game. The Saints went 3 & out on their first two opening drives.
On a 4th & goal situation for the Huskies, defensive back Benjamin Ylipää broke up a potential touchdown pass to give the Saints defense some early confidence in the game. That confidence would not stay long as the Huskies took the next drive down the field and scored on a Niko Lester (WR) 23 yard run. The 2 point conversion was good and the Huskies lead 16-0 after the first quarter.
The Saints began the second quarter making their way down the field running with Juzz Tiny (WR) jet sweeps runs. Running back Tuukka Lehtonen broke through the middle for a big 33 yard gain and the Saints were in Huskies territory. On third down, quarterback Raleigh Yeldell found Juzz Tiny on the sideline for a toe tapping first down catch. Unfortunately, a penalty by the Saints negated the play and the Saints drive stalled. The onslaught of screen passes and quick throws got the Huskies inside the Saints territory again. Receiver Roman Runner caught a 30 yard screen pass in the middle of the field to make the score 22-0 with less than 4 minutes left in the half.
The Saints had one more chance to get points on the board before the half ended. Raleigh Yeldell did his best to escape the pressure of the Huskies defense and make throws to his receivers. He connected with receiver Jere Tuhkanen for a 51 yard bomb to put the Saints inside the Huskies red zone. On a 4th & 7 Yeldell hit receiver Mikko Sinikallio on an 8 yard hitch for a first down. But again, a Saints penalty erased the good play and another drive stalled. The Hämeenlinna Huskies lead at the half 22-0.
The Saints used a combination of Juzz Tiny runs and Yeldell scrambles to get on the Huskies side of the field. On 4th & 3 the Huskies stuffed a rushing attempt by Tuukka Lehtonen to end that slight threat of a score. The Hämeenlinna Huskies are a shotgun air raid team, but showed a wishbone formation at times. In the wishbone formation, quarterback Stan Bedwell connected with receiver Reuben De Ruyter for a big 31 yard gain in the middle of the third quarter. Later in the drive receiver Tommi Pinta contributed to the passing game by making a big catch in the middle of the field for the Huskies. The Huskies ended the drive with a 17 yard touchdown pass to Reuben De Ruyter to extend their lead to 30-0.
The Saints showed flashes of greatness, followed by ultimate disaster. Quarterback Raleigh Yeldell somehow threw a pass, while being tackled, to Jaako Koivunen to get the Saints moving down the field. The next play was a pass thrown into double coverage and intercepted by Roman Runner. Another Saints opportunity wasted. The Hämeenlinna Huskies continued their air raid system down the field capped by a 17 yard touchdown catch by receiver Juuso Alikoski to make the score 36-0 at the end of the third quarter.
The last quarter was more of a formality for both teams. The Saints had more big plays taken away by penalties and could not move the ball afterwards. The Hämeenlinna Huskies drove 99 yards and scored on a 17 yard pass to receiver Jani Luiro to make the score 44-0.
After that dominating 99 yard drive, both teams conceded to playing their backups to finish the game. The Huskies backup quarterback Eemi Huhtinen scored the final points of the game on a 1 yard quarterback sneak. Final score Hämeenlinna Huskies 50, Tampere Saints 0.
PERFECT PERVIS VIEW
The Hämeenlinna Huskies used this season opener to prove that they are more than just a Maple League team, they are a Maple League contender. Stan Bedwell’s air raid offense is just as potent as advertised; putting up 50 points is never an easy feat no matter the opponent. The Tampere Saints showed signs of growing together as a team, but still have major problems with penalties and giving their quarterback better protection. Tampere played well enough to score points in this game, but they lacked the resilience to make plays when faced with adversity. The Saints will gain valuable experience from this loss, but the Huskies are definitely using this game as a stepping stone for much larger season goals.
Next week the Hämeenlinna Huskies will take on the Seinäjoki Crocodiles on Saturday 5/27, while the Saints will have a bye week.
KEY PLAYER STATS
QB Stan Bedwell – 30/36 , 350 yds, 4 td
RB Arkadi Meerschout – 5 att, 29 yds, 1 td/ 7 rec, 75 yds
WR Niko Lester – 2 att, 26 yds, 1 td
WR Roman Runner – 6 rec, 64 yds, 1 td
WR Tommi Pinta – 5 rec, 48 yds
WR Ruben De Ruyter – 4 rec, 67 yds, 1 td
LB Tahj Jones – 5.5 tkls, 0.5 tfl
LB David Izinyon – 4.5 tkls, 0.5 tfl
DL Rickhard Helenius – 4 tkls, 1 tfl
DB Daniel Mackenzie – 4 tkls, 1.5 tfl
DB Mikko Isoääntä – 3 tkls, 1 pbu, 1 int
DB Roman Runner – 3 tkls, 1 int
QB Raleigh Yeldell – 13/24, 149 yds
RB Tuukka Lehtonen – 8 att, 47 yds
RB Matti Airalsinen – 5 att, 32 yds
WR Juzz Tiny – 7 att, 25 yds/ 4 rec 30 yds
WR Mikko Sinikallio – 4 rec, 39 yds
WR Jaakko Koivunen – 4 rec 29 yds
LB Tony Ballon – 10 tkls, 1 tfl
DB Benjamin Ylipää – 8.5 tkls, 1 pbu
DB Elliott Jeffcoat – 6.5 tkls, 0.5 tfl
DB Janne Moisio – 3.5 tkls, 1 pbu