Halfway through the Maple League season, it’s time to rank the teams and compete with my preseason predictions. If you have heard the most recent AFF Podcast, you already know how we ranked the Maple League teams regarding the playoff picture. But in case you want a visual reference to look back on, I will place them here for the world to see. Even though AFF is a collaboration, these rankings are exactly how my person rankings would be. Here’s how I think it will shake out.
STARTING FROM THE BOTTOM
7TH – TURKU TROJANS (0-5)
The Turku Trojans are exactly who we thought they were. Lack of depth on both sides of the ball has made every game difficult for them this season. Despite being fully committed to the run early in the season, midway they have turned 180 degrees and tried to install a new quarterback and passing game to create some type of offensive firepower. They might improve this season, but I highly doubt they close the gap enough to compete with the other teams in the Maple League.
6th – TAMPERE SAINTS (1-4)
The Tampere Saints are better than the Trojans, that is all they have proved in the first half of the season. Their defense is not good enough to stop the high-powered offenses of the Maple League which means they will always be playing from behind. This situation is not good for them since their quarterback is most effective with his legs, not his arm. If the Saints can get ahead on teams early they will put up a good fight each week, but I doubt their defense will be able hold any Maple League offenses for four full quarters.
5th – SEINÄJOKI CROCODILES (1-4)
The Seinäjoki Crocodiles are the only team in the lower half that has shown potential for a playoff push. Against the top teams in the Maple League so far, the Crocodiles have put up a decent fight, partially. Due to injuries, lack of depth, and a very inexperienced roster, they have not been able to compete to their full potential. Despite these obstacles, the Crocodiles look look like the team most likely to make a run at the 4th playoff spot if given the chance.
4th – PORVOON BUTCHERS (3-2)
This team went 3-0 against the lower teams in the Maple League and lost two games that included injuries to their best two players. If they can replicate their success against the lower teams in the second half of the season, the Porvoon Butchers will easily make the playoffs. Before the injuries to quarterback Jordan Moore and runningback Darion Hall, this team was poised for a 3rd or maybe 2nd place finish. But the reality of the situation is that this Butchers team now must prove themselves with new imports in the second half of the season. If the replacement players can replicate their successors production, the Butchers could easily move up to 2nd or 3rd before the playoffs. But right now this is pure speculation.
3rd – WASA ROYALS (3-2)
Last year when the Wasa Royals made the playoffs in their first Maple League season they exceeded expectations. This year, before the season began, they were crowned the Contender to the Helsinki Roosters. They have underwhelmed everyone who has seen them play. I won’t rant on why they played below expectations, but you can listen to why in the AFF podcast of the week. The Royals do not look like a good team, but have too much talent to lose to the lower half of the league so far. Hopefully the break has given them time to right the ship and become the championship contender they have intended to be.
2nd – HÄMEENLINNA HUSKIES (4-1)
I had this team ranked here before the season, take that Jabari and Rojo! This was based on pure guessing that the roster that Stan Bedwell put together would work. So far the Hämeenlinna Huskies have proven that they are the real thing and have a chance to compete for the title this season. In all honestly there is nothing negative to say about this team, except that they are not the Helsinki Roosters.
1st – HELSINKI ROOSTERS (6-0)
The Helsinki Roosters are the best team in the Maple League. Hell, the Helsinki Roosters are the best football team in Finland, winning 20+ games between their mens, womens, and multiple juniors teams so far. Regarding the Maple League team, the Roosters have been dominant all season on both sides of the ball. What sets them apart from all the other teams in the league is their winning culture. When it looks like teams might be able to hang with them, they make BIG plays to squash those types of hopes. The Roosters are playing football the way you want it to be played.