Saturday, the Helsinki Roosters take on the Wasa Royals in the Maple Bowl. There are so many stars involved in this game, I just had to get some of their views on the matchup. Today we will hear from Roosters cornerback Akseli Olin.
24.5 tackles, 3 interceptions, 5 passes defensed
This Royals team looks to be assembled specifically to beat the Roosters, and did so the last time you two met. What will be the difference in this game to make sure the Roosters get the win?
A rather loaded question I would say, but a valid one. Royals defense is aggressive and physical, and they could disarm our offense last time we played. However, the game was a lot tighter than the end score suggests, and a couple of times the ball really bounced the Royals’ way. This time on offense we must be able to convert our red zone chances into points, and on defense hold our ground on 3rd & long and 4th down situations. If we can minimize our own errors in crucial situations I believe we will come out on top.
The fight for field position is also important: Royals have a great kicker/punter in Spencer Cutlan and their special teams are well coached. Forcing errors in the kicking game can benefit us greatly.
The Roosters defense is arguably the best in the Maple League, but in the second half of the season the Royals offense has been unstoppable. What do the Roosters need to do defensively to slow down the Royals offense?
It’s going to be a great battle between some of the Maple League’s best receivers and best defensive backs. We must be able to force their quarterback Justin Sottilare into making bad decisions and quick throws, and then attack the ball whenever it’s in the air. We must be physical against their wide receivers on both sides. Their offense will move the ball surely – we need great effort from our defensive line and linebackers to stop them on 3rd & short at least a few times in the game. Conversely, if they can convert more than 50% of their 3rd down situations we will be in trouble.
RJ Long is a great talent and always should be respected on the football field. What does your team need to do to keep RJ from having a big game as he usually does?
RJ Long is a go-getter. I think he is one of the best athletes in the league: great size and leaping ability. He goes for the ball and makes catches in traffic. Overall, he is extremely hard to defend. To slow him down we must be able to get physical at the line of scrimmage and disrupt the timing on his routes. Our defensive line must be able to get to Justin Sottilare and make him throw the ball out quick.
The Royals offense has plenty of playmakers aside from RJ Long. Who would you consider their most dangerous offense weapon not named RJ Long?
I believe the Royals will try to attack our linebackers with short and intermediate passes to both Spencer Cutlan and Nicholas Peterson, who both can make plays after the catch. They will most likely utilize both guys in various positions and try to find match-ups where they can use Peterson’s speed and Cutlan’s quick feet. However, their most dangerous offensive weapon would have to be Aappo Saloranta in the wideout position. He hasn’t played that much this year but he is a tall and sure receiver who makes catches when it counts, just like he did in the playoff game.
You are a returning Roosters champion, so this game is nothing new to you. What personal motivation do you have for winning this game?
I’ve been waiting for this game like a little kid, and I really don’t feel enough like a veteran of the Maple League yet, so I can’t say it’s nothing new. It’s going to be extremely exciting to step on the field once again: The Maple Bowl is the pinnace of football in Finland and I love playing in front of bigger crowds. Personally, I want to end this great season with a good game, but getting the win is our common goal. I’m sure everyone in our team is willing to put their personal wishes aside to come out on top as the winning team.