Game preview: Nordmen vs Spartans

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The final regular season game for the Nordmen is a must-win for both teams to get a high seed for the playoffs.

After a blowout win at home last week, in a game that had a rather weird ending, the Nordmen are ready to close out the regular season with a bang. Both teams have looked strong all season and getting better every game. Currently the Nordmen have the #2 seed in Group A; a very tight group where all of the playoff seeds are up for grabs. The Spartans have the #3 seed so this match-up will have a huge impact on the standings. With both teams seeking a crucial win, look for this showdown to be a very physical, hard-fought game.

What to expect from the Spartans

The Spartans stand at 3-1 before arriving to Rovaniemi, which gives them the #3 seed in group A. They don’t have the best situation for the rest of the season facing the 2 top teams over their final 2 weeks of play, beginning with the Nordmen this week and the #1 seeded Northern Lights to end their regular season. A tough mountain to climb, but definitely doable. Last year’s 2nd Division runner-up is getting hot at the right time; averaging over 30pts a game and becoming a force to be reckoned with.

The Spartans offense has had two leaders this year: QB Daniel Tolonen and QB Semi Huhtinen. These two youngsters have played well all season and have split the playing time quite evenly. With Tolonen getting hurt last week against the Farmers, will Huhtinen be the guy? WR Joni Riihelä also showed his talent as QB last week in big win. With these moving parts its hard to figure who will lead the Spartans offense in Saturday. The Spartans have had a lot of success with both rushing and passing, though it seems like the passing game is the more consistent of the two; with talented WR Riihelä leading the pack. The highlight of the day is former Nordmen wideout turned to a utility man wherever needed RB Eino Kalliomäki is returning to face-off against his old team. Again, a familiar face on the opposing sideline, will surely leave many feeling a bit nostalgic and as this friendly meeting will definitely make for a fun match-up and side-story for this game.

Defensively, the Spartans are a steady unit who will make you pay if you make a mistake. They have held opposing offenses to low numbers all year; immensely helping out their offense. The Nordmen will have to challenge and push the Pirkkala defense for the entire game to be able to score enough points. The Spartans have high hopes for rookie linebackers Joonas Korhonen and Samuli Rahkjärvi to run all over the field, as they’ll try the best to stop the Warriors of the Four Winds.

What to expect from the Nordmen

Hot off setting a Nordmen record with 6 TDs in a single game, rookie WR/RB sensation Miika Virkki is the main cog in the Rovaniemi offensive machine. Whether it’s on the ground or through the air, this young man knows how to find pay-dirt and will look to continue his exceptional rookie campaign; during which he has piled up over 800 yards of total offense to go along with 8 TDs.

Virkki may be the spark that ignites the engine, but he isn’t the only driver for the Nordmen offense. Fellow rookie WR Olli Salmela has had some solid opportunities and has pulled down about 300 yards receiving while also notching a few TDs along the way. If the Spartans key on Virkki, look for Salmela and fellow WRs Elias Id & Antti Pokela to stretch the field and open things up. With FB Jonathan Ashton laying blocks out of the backfield to open holes and protect QB Lucas Martinez the Nordmen should be in good shape up-front, especially now that the Rovaniemi O-line has found their stride and is working beautifully as a unit.

The Nordmen defense is stout, led by MLB Ryan Oliveira, CB Kaarle Silander, Rover Aurélien Germay and DT Petri Korhonen. It takes 11 guys to make a defense, though, and the depth of this defensive squad has shown why they have been so efficient all year. Rookie DE Juhani Kivelä comes off the edge like lightning and rookie DT Ernest Owusu-Brown (who only began practicing in May) has made a notable impact up front. CB Sami Kuusela and Safety Tapio Aaltonen will look to continue their growth as they seek to shut down the Pirkkala offense from the get-go. The Nordmen haven’t really faced a pass-first offense to this point, but having practiced against a pass-heavy offense every week for the last 8 months, you can bet that they’ll be ready for the challenge and look to show off their ball-hawking skills.

Important Info

Sponsored by Kylmin Oy, Kick-off is at 4pm, Saturday July 23th at Susivouti. Additional information can be found in our Facebook event. No stream for this game, but we all know that football is best when you’re watching it live and from the stands! Tickets are 7€ for adults; 5€ for students, retirees and civil service/military members & under 17 are free. For directions to Susivoudin kenttä, follow this link. Food, refreshments and fan gear will be available for purchase at the snack bar.

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