In a game that was predicted to be an epic battle, the Hämeenlinna Huskies defeated the Wasa Royals 34-9 on Saturday afternoon. This would be the second “Big” game in the Maple League for the Wasa Royals, both ending in embarrassing losses. Despite the lopsided score, there was plenty of action in this game. * Featured image photo credit: Samppa Toivonen
NEW JERSEYS, SAME TEAM
This might turn into a short novel, because a lot needs to be said here. The Wasa Royals are not playing like a top 2 team in the Maple League. I personally predicted them to finish atop the league standings, so it’s not easy for me to write this. Against two very good teams, the Royals have proven that they do not possess the “IT” factor that it takes to win big games in the Maple League.
Against the Huskies, the Royals had a touchdown run negated by a false start penalty. Before that penalty the scoreboard read 14-6 and the Royals would have had momentum to carry them forward. But that penalty happened, so the score remained 14-0 with the Royals in the red zone. Instead of responding with a big play, the Royals had a pass intercepted by Niko Lester for a 98 yard touchdown for the Hämeenlinna Huskies. At that point the Huskies went ahead in the game 22-0. Instead of 14-6 or even a 14-3 game, it was 22-0! That changed the outlook of the game for both teams. The Huskies had increased confidence and momentum, while the Royals had their backs against the wall and started to look desperate. The Royals responded to this adversity by turning the ball over on the next two consecutive possessions and helping the Huskies have a cushioned 28-0 halftime lead.
Injuries, suspensions, unforeseen circumstances, and luck are all part of football. The Wasa Royals are no exception, but none of these are a legitimate reason for a loss. Every team must be prepared for these situations, because they happen. The Royals do not look like they were prepared for these situations, despite it being their major setback last season as well. They are prepared to have multiple uniforms throughout the season, so there’s always that.
SWISS ARMY KNIFE NIKO LESTER
In this game, the multi-talented Niko Lester did not play as much as he would have liked due to a small injury. But when you have the talent and skills it takes; you don’t need much to make an impact. Lester did exactly that with his 98-yard interception that shifted the entire feel of the game in favor of the Huskies. I wonder if Coach Bedwell will ever let him throw a pass for a touchdown so he can add that to his many accomplishments?
TAHJ JONES WAS EVERYWHERE
He racked up 10.5 tackles and 3 tackles-for-loss, Tahj Jones was the Huskies defense. When the Royals ran the ball, Tahj was there. When the Royals passed the ball, Tahj was there. When the Royals went to their locker room at halftime, Tahj was there! If you think I’m exaggerating, just follow the dreads; the hair never lies.
JUSSI KAAS STEPS HIS GAME UP
Jussi Kaas is a name most never heard of before the season began. If you don’t know who the tall #19 for the Royals is now, please get from underneath that rock. Kaas has been thrown into the deep end of the pool by the Royals, becoming their number two receiver in the absence of Spencer Cutlan. Against the Huskies, he again proved to be a reliable source of catches and yards, gaining 92 yards on 8 catches.
3 interceptions thrown by Justin Sottilare almost brought me to tears. I am very emotional about turnovers, and Sottilare’s three consecutive turnovers were hard to handle. Turnovers happen, but at some point, the quarterback must start being more careful on those throws. Wins and losses are usually tied to the quarterback, and interceptions don’t help that narrative.
KEY PLAYER STATS
QB Stan Bedwell – 11/28, 120 yds, 3 tds, 3 ints
WR/DB Niko Lester – 2 rec, 20 yds/2 tkls, 2 pbu, 1 int(td)
WR Tommi Pinta – 2 rec, 42 yds, 2 tds
WR /DB Roman Runner – 1 rec, 29 yds/ 2 tkls, 2 pbu
LB Tahj Jones – 10.5 tkls, 3 tfl
DL James Perrineau – 3.5 tkls
DB Daniel Mackenzie – 2 tkls, 2 pbu, 1 int
DB Mikko Isokääntä – 5.5 tkls
QB Justin Sottilare – 24/55, 255 yds, 1 td, 3 ints
WR/DB RJ Long – 4 rec, 75 yds, 1 td/2 tkls, 1 int
WR Jussi Kaas – 8 rec, 92 yards
RB Tom Suoste – 14 att, 23 yds/5 rec, 35 yds
LB Chris Young – 6.5 tkls, 2 tfl, 1 pbu
DB Jefferson Davis – 1 tkl, 1 pbu, 1 int
DL Efe Evwaraye – 6 tkls, 3 tfl, 1 sack