Aerial Attack: 2019 WR Preview

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Aerial Attack: Nordmen’s Wide Receiver corps is ready to take flight in 2019.

A few seasons ago, the Rovaniemi Nordmen were a run-heavy offense that had mixed success with moving the ball through the air. A few imports from Spain, provided a spark every now and then, as well as the sure-handed and 2018 3rd Division MVP, Alfonso Ikäheimo.

The Spaniards are gone, but the Nordmen passing game has gotten stronger over the last two seasons, and it’s looking to be a truly dangerous threat going into the 2019 season. Quarterback Rafael Pineda has brought stability and skill to a position that has allowed the Nordmen wide-outs to grow and evolve at an exceptional rate. Just how good will they be, is yet to be seen. Practice can show you flashes and set expectations high, but actually going head-to-head with an angry and determined DB can change everything. Having said that, my feeling is this: the Rovaniemi Nordmen have a passing attack that will be incredibly difficult to defend. I’m gonna break down the guys that will be lining up and looking to take the rock to the end-zone many times this season.

Let’s kick it off with the starters. The Nordmen have talent across the board and the starters could actually vary from week to week, but this is who we’re going with against Jyväskylä in a few weeks.

Alfonso Ikäheimo is the stand-out of the receiving group. The reigning 3rd Division MVP, Ikäheimo will be looking to continue his domination against 2nd Division DBs. Not the fastest guy on the field, Ikäheimo uses his size, excellent hands and route running to consistently beat the defense. He drew a lot of double-teams last year, but still was able to break out and break off long plays on a weekly basis.

Eino Kalliomäki is the kind of slot receiver that teams dream of having. Quite likely one of the most spirited Nordmen on the field, Eino is the guy you go to if you need a tough 3rd down conversion. His hands are impeccable and holy sh*t, can that guy take a hit and keep coming. Kalliomäki benefited from double-teams that Ikäheimo faced last year, particularly during the semi-final match-up against the Rusko Mayhem when he made three huge receptions to keep drives going; once getting hit so hard that he needed to be helped off the field.

Elias Id was on a farm contract last year between the Nordmen and Oulu’s Northern Lights. This season, he’s all ours and we’re very happy about that! Id has good size and enough speed to be able to beat almost any DB that lines up against him. He uses his long arms to his advantage and his hands are very solid both across the middle and on the outside. Expect a big step forward for Elias in 2019.

Hannes Harju is lightning in a bottle. To paraphrase John Madden, here’s a guy that can catch the ball in the flat and burn you for 50+ yards before you know it. Harju did exactly that many times last year, perhaps the most memorable was in the Tin Bowl championship game when he caught a short pass in the right flat and then scorched down the sideline for a 55 yard touchdown that put the last nail in the coffin for the Pirkanmaa Patriots. Probably the fastest player on the Nordmen roster, if you give him just a little space I have only one bit of advice for you: get the burn cream because you’re going to need it.

Maxim Sandlund is a fresh face in the Nordmen receivers group, but this guy is far from a rookie. Sandlund has been carving up defenses in Luleå for the last 6 seasons and he’s looking do more of the same this year. We haven’t seen a lot of him outside of the pre-season camp in March, but what we saw was enough to have many people smiling from ear to ear. Sandlund may be the smallest wide-out on the Nordmen roster, but he’s going to surprise people this season. With the acceleration of a Ferrari and hands like a vacuum, Sandlund adds a fifth option at wide receiver that is enough to make any defense wish that their uniforms were brown, so that they wouldn’t have to change their pants after facing this passing attack.

A few other guys may get some reps on the outside this year, too. Rookie Elmeri Sillman has been working with both the WR and DL, but it’s possible that he could get called in on short yardage situations or inside the red-zone; given his size and ability to get above the secondary. Kaarle Silander has returned to the Nordmen after a year with the East City Giants and could also get some snaps at wide-out, but we’re penciling him in with the running backs to start the season. Adrian Rodriguez may also see some time on the outside, but given his rugby background, I think that he’ll be a better fit (and much more intimidating) on the defensive side of the ball.

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