Saturday will be an epic Maple League matchup between the Wasa Royals (5-2) and the Hämeenlinna Huskies (6-2). This game will have a profound effect on the playoff scene as the season gets closer to an end. The last meeting between these two teams was a decisive victory by the Haämeenlinna Huskies by a score of 34-6 in Vaasa. But this game is not in Vaasa, the Royals are playing great lately, and the Huskies are eager to prove that they are not an early season fluke!
WASA ROYALS KEYS TO WIN
Since the Midsummer break, the Wasa Royals have looked like a real Maple League contender. To keep that image going the Royals will need to feed the beast, RJ Long. By keeping Long involved throughout the game, the Royals offense will be able to dictate the pace of the game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Royals must disrupt the Huskies offense. There is no one player to stop in the air raid system, so the Royals must focus on creating chaos within the strategy of the Huskies offense. The third key for the Royals will be to take care of the ball and prevent unnecessary turnovers. The Royals have been consistent in turning the ball over in big moments this season, so that must stop this week to get the much needed revenge they seek.
GET RJ LONG THE BALL
DISRUPT THE HUSKIES OFFENSE
HÄMEENLINNA HUSKIES KEYS TO WIN
The Huskies have not been playing their best version of football the last few weeks. The main cause could be due to injuries to some of their star players. Unfortunately, injuries or not, the Royals will show no sympathy this week. This is why the Hämeenlinna Huskies will need to get off to a hot start in this game. They do not have the luxury of playing a tough game for four quarters with nagging injuries. They need to get ahead quickly and control the flow of the game to win this game. Defensively, the Huskies will have to stop the run game of the Royals, specifically running back Tom Suoste. Suoste is an underrated player in the Maple League, but his consistent rushing attack is how the Royals open up their newly found passing game. The Huskies need to shut him down and make the Royals one-dimensional in the pass game. Lastly, the Hämeenlinna Huskies must have explosive plays from Niko Lester or Roman Runner. Offense, defense, special teams, or whatever else way is possible, these two guys have to create the momentum plays for the Huskies to come away with a win at home.
GET AHEAD EARLY
STOP THE RUN GAME
BIG PLAYS BY NIKO LESTER AND ROMAN RUNNER
#12 QB Justin Sottilare – 136 of 249 passes completed, 1739 yards, 16 touchdowns
#40 RB Tom Suoste – 118 rush attempts, 532 yards, 5 touchdowns
#13 WR RJ Long – 45 receptions, 719 yards, 4 touchdowns
#8 WR Spencer Cutlan – 24 receptions, 294 yards, 4 touchdowns
#7 WR Aapoo Saloranta – 5 receptions, 93 yards, 2 touchdowns
#33 LB Stacey Thomas – 17 tackles, 2 tackles-for-loss, 1 interception
#4 LB Chris Young – 58.5 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss, 2 sacks
#9 DL Efe Evwaraye – 21 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss, 4.5 sacks
#92 DL Rodon Zeqiri – 16.5 tackles, 7 tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks
#21 DB Rufail Khalifa – 18 tackles, 11 passes defensed, 2 interceptions
#9 QB Stan Bedwell – 165 of 270 passes completed, 2036 yards, 21 touchdowns
#16 RB Arkadi Meerschout – 30 receptions, 238 yards, 2 touchdowns
#11 WR Roman Runner – 40 receptions, 516 yards, 7 touchdowns
#8 WR Tommi Pinta – 20 receptions, 257 yards, 3 touchdowns
#23 WR Niko Lester – 31 receptions, 431 yards, 4 touchdowns
#84 WR Juuso Alakoski – 14 receptions, 237 yards, 2 touchdowns
#5 LB Tahj Jones – 45.5 tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss
#45 LB David Izinyon – 36.5 tackles, 4.5. tackles-for-loss
#13 DB Aku Kattainen – 17.5 tackles, 2 passes defensed, 3 interceptions
#6 DL Juha Yli-Arvela – 10 tackles, 5.5. tackles-for-loss, 3 passes defensed, 4 sacks
PERFECT PERVIS PREDICTION
The last time these two teams played I predicted a close game with the Wasa Royals narrowly winning. I was proven wrong by the Hämeenlinna Huskies, and should probably take that into consideration this time around. I believe this game will be close despite the mostly lopsided games so far this season. In my opinion it’s pretty simple: The Royals are playing well, the Huskies are not playing well. So I’m predicting the Wasa Royals to win 32-24.