Monthly Archives: August 2013

Crocs 41 – Wolverines 49

25 August 2013

The regular season had ended and we were 7 and 3 winning the Bronze Medal for the Maple League. We had earned a home playoff game for the semi-finals against the tough Wolverines. The game was Sunday and the weather was going to be perfect. Our previous two meetings with the Wolverines had resulted in a split with a defeat in the Velodrome on a last-second 47-yard field goal and a win at home with a game-ending goal line stand by our defense. We knew that this playoff game would be a fight.

standings1

Practice had gone well during the entire week. I sensed a more urgent attitude from the players and the tempo was markedly higher. We had had some great mid-week trainings.

The Wolverines were already in town on Saturday night opting to not have to travel the five hour bus ride on the day of the game. A smart move by the organization. I would have expected us to do the same if at all possible.

I was fairly pent up over this game with the pressure mounting throughout the week. I was extremely worried about being able to stop the Wolverine offense. They were explosive with three weapons: Stokes at tailback, Cedric Johnson at quarterback and Brescacin at receiver. The defensive scheme we employed throughout the season had been a 3-5-3, which was well-suited for our personnel. We did not have the strong linebacking crew or deep defensive line needed for a more traditional 4-3 type set. The 3-5-3 works well for undersized but aggressive players. We had done well with it throughout the year. At this point in the season, however, we were suffering from injuries to some key defensive players and it had left us pretty thin at the backer and dog spots. We would have to play flawless football and get some breaks to win this game.

The hype across the town in the small football circles was palpable. We could expect a bigger crowd on Sunday as it was one of two semi-final games and it would be broadcast live on Finnish television. Signs advertising the game were strewn across the small town and sponsors were visiting and planning to set up at the game.

Finally, the time arrived to get to the field house – 4PM. We got through the tapings and all the pre-game hype that included a unique entrance by one of our dogs Juhani. Upon being introduced, he assumed a power-lunge position and tilted his head back and spewed forth a cascade of water worthy of a true leviathan. I think the only thing that could have topped it was if he had lit his hair on fire, which I would not have put past him.

The captains met near our set of numbers rather than mid-field. I could only assume this had been because of some extension cord limitations for the local camera crews. We ended up with the ball so we would be receiving.

intros wolverine kickoff

Stacey Thomas took the kick and returned it 35 yards to their 45 yard line for great field position. We put together a good opening drive that saw Adams connect on five of five throws. The score came on a five yard plunge by Crawford. We hit the PAT and were up 7 to 0.

We kicked and the Wolverines started on their own 37 yard line. Johnson opened with a quad look to the right but took the ball up the middle on a quarterback draw. Two missed tackles later he had rushed for 27 yards. On the third play of the drive we didn’t cover the quarterback on an option down the line and Johnson flipped the ball to an uncovered pitch man for 13 yards. After a run and then a sack, we had them in a third down situation. They lined up Stokes in the slot position to the right. We allowed a free release and didn’t have any deep help. Johnson lofted the ball over the top for a score. The PAT was good and it was tied. It had not been a good start for the defense.

crawford td stokes catching a td

We started with the ball on the Wolverine 45 again. Again, Adams hit some key passes and again Crawford capped the drive with a run. This time he had broke one for 31 yards on a toss play to the right. We went for two points from our “gate” look and failed. Crocs led 13 to 7.

The second drive for the Wolverines started on their own 37 yard line. On the third play with three to go for the first down, Johnson took the ball himself around the left edge. We lost contain by attempting to go under a block and he managed 23 yards down to our 33 yard line. The quarter ended and the first play of the second period found the Canadian in the right slot. We failed to pick him up and he was free in the middle for a 26 yard touchdown pass. The PAT was good and the Wolverines led 14 to 13.

Another squib kick and we start with the ball on our own 40 yard line. The offense turned the ball over on the third play of the drive with a pass on the back foot of Adams that floated weak and to the middle. It had been easily gathered in and the Wolverines took over on our 36 yard line.

brescacin scoring crawford scores again

Stokes knocked out a run for 19 through the left ISO hole behind some big blockers and then Johnson hit Brescacin for a 17 yard score. This time it wasn’t so much poor pass coverage but a well thrown corner route and a good catch. The PAT was good and the Wolverines had broken serve by taking the lead at 21 to 13.

We took the kick deep this time and Crawford had a good seam on our “return left” play. He split it and then reversed field to pick up a great 40 yard return giving us the ball on the Wolverine 37 yard line. We immediately picked up a holding penalty on first down and were knocked back to the 47 with a second and 20 situation. On the next play, Adams tossed to Crawford on the right and he found some room back inside all the way to the Wolverine one yard line. Two plays later Crawford found the endzone and the PAT was good. Wolverines 21 and Crocs 20.

We kicked deep again and the Wolverines got the ball out to their 37 yard line after muffing the kickoff reception. A couple short running plays picked up a first down and then Stokes broke a run for 19 helped by our poor tackling. Then from a third and eight situation from our 31 yard line, Johnson found the Canadian once again. This time it was a comeback route to the left. We blew the coverage and completely dropped Brescanin who caught the pass in open field. He made some deft moves and danced into the endzone. Again, the kick was good and the Wolverines now led 28 to 20. We had no answers for the passing game. Thus far in the season, pass defense had been our strong suite. Today, however, we were making mistakes in the secondary and bleeding points.

A squib kick fielded by Brown netted nothing and we had the ball on our 33 yard line. The offense mustered nothing. We punted after three failed plays. The ball sailed out of bounds on the kick and the Wolverines took over at the 50 yard line.

stokes running vili scoring with ref

After stopping Stokes on the first down, we jumped offsides on then next play. This allowed a “free” play and Johnson took advantage by hurling a long pass to Sagna who reeled it in for a 46 yard reception. Johnson himself took the ball on the next two plays and again the Wolverines scored. The PAT was good and they led 35 to 20 with 1:20 remaining in the half.

Brown took the short kickoff and split through the Wolverine front line and found daylight on the return. He was dragged down from behind giving us the ball on their 35 yard line. Adams connected on a short pass and then the Wolverines got hit with a couple penalties that gave us a new set of downs on their 24 yard line. We had a first and five situation. After a failed pass attempt, Crawford broke a run for 13 yards down to the 11 yard line. Then, a nice out route to the corner of the endzone by Vili Rajamaki concluded the drive with a score. Vili missed the kick and the score was Wolverines 35 and Crocs 26.

We kicked with only 12 seconds remaining in the half and the Wolverines miraculously could not penetrate our prevent defense as the time ran out.

pre-game side line cheerleaders

We retired to our bank in the shade behind the home bleachers. I noted to the defense that the half’s performance was one of the poorest I had witnessed against the pass. It was amazing that we were still in the game, which was a credit to the offense providing us with a steady flow of points. The remainder of my time and Coach Eero’s time was spent trying to build some fire into the defense as a whole. Several players who had assumed leadership roles throughout the season gave fiery speeches in Finnish.

brescacin catching

We kicked off to begin the second half of play. The kick presented a great opportunity for us but we failed to cash in on it. It was a “hole” kick to the right and took a beautiful backwards bounce. The ball was live as we ran by it. Consequently, the Wolverines started with the ball on their own 38 yard line. This drive was nothing different than what we had experienced the entire first half. The Wolverines systematically shredded our defense and were on the board in eight plays. We blew coverage on a quad right set and then missed tackles up the middle. We also helped them out with a defensive holding penalty this time. The Wolverines decided to go for two and completed an easy corner pass to Brescanin over the top of our corner. The score was Wolverines 43 and Crocs 26.

We took the kick and started at our own 35 yard line. After a couple failed plays, Adams hit Brown over the middle for a short reception that he turned into 33 yards. This set up a five yard scramble by Adams to the left followed by a quick snap sneak through the right A gap for the score. Vili hit the PAT and it was Wolverines 43 and Crocs 33.

We attempted another “hole” kick but it was taken in the air by an second-tier player and returned to the 46 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage the ball was loose on a bad handoff but the Wolverines recovered. Johnson took the play on second down for little yardage and Brescacin actually dropped a short drag pass over the middle. The Wolverines were forced to punt.

The punt was deep and downed on our own 17 yard line. We hit a 14 yard pass to Brown followed by an 11 yard run by Crawford to get us out of the hole. But then a completed pass for negative six yards followed by two incomplete passes forced us to punt the ball away. Brown got off a running punt to the right for 34 yards giving the Wolverines a first and 10 on their 26 yard line with just 1:06 remaining in the third quarter.

Two toss plays ended the quarter and the Wolverines had a third down and one situation. I called a blitz and they ran Johnson to the right toward the edge. We lost contain on with the dog and the safety missed coming up the alley and Johnson was off to the races. It was a 64 yard run with 15 taken away for a Wolverine unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. First and 10 at the 16. They dropped to pass and Brescacin ran a post flag route that spun our corner and put him in bad position. The pass was on spot and it was a touchdown. The PAT failed and it was Wolverines 49 and Crocs 33.

They kicked deep and Crawford miss-judged it and it bounded deep through his legs. By the time he retrieved it he was swarmed and we were starting on our 16 yard line. Amid a flurry of penalties, we ended up with a fourth down and two to go from our 24 yard line. We attempted a quick slant route from the left and the ball was not on mark. Wolverines took over on our 24.

d-line and crowd juhani tackling

Three rushes by Stokes found them with a first and goal from our eight yard line. We managed to hold them and were faced with a fourth down situation from our one yard line. The Wolverines took the snap and collided in the backfield. The ball popped loose and our big defensive tackle Anders Jarvinen scooped the ball and started lumbering towards our goal. Our safety Stacey Thomas was near and Anders flipped him the ball but Stacey was immediately dragged down from behind. It was our ball on our 16 yard line and there was 6:22 remaining in the game. We were down by 16.

wolverine fumble anders to stacey lateral

Adams hit Blair Gordon for a 12 yard strike giving us a quick first down. After two incomplete passes, the Wolverines were hit with a face masking penalty against Adams. That bailed us out on a third and 10 situation. We had a new set of downs on our 28 yard line. After that.. disaster. Adams was dropped for a 12 yard sack followed by a false start penalty. We were second down and 27 on our own 11 yard line. On the next snap, Crawford busted one out for 18 and then Rajamaki made a reception for 11. We had clawed our way out to the 38 yard line. Another short completion to Rajamaki got us to the 46 yard line. Adams followed this with two attempts to Blair. The first missed but the second hit for 15 down the right seam. From the Wolverine 39, Adams completed three consecutive passes to get us in the endzone. The final strike was to Crawford for 17 yards. There was 2:07 remaining in the game we were down 10 at 49 to 39.

td crocs

We lined up the offense for the two-point conversion. The conversion to Brown in corner was good. We were down by 8 with 2:03 remaining in the game. We lined up for the onside kick.

We took a shot from the bunch position but we ended up with only three players on one side at the time of the kick so we were flagged for an illegal kickoff set. The Wolverines had recovered it anyway and would start on our 35 yard line. Stokes took the first two plays for a net of three yards. We had burned the last of time outs. With a third and seven situation, Johnson took the ball to the right on an option. Nobody picked up the quarterback and he kept the ball up the seam. He got the first down and essentially the game was over.

The Wolverines kneed out the first down. They lined up to knee out the second down and we rushed it through the A gap. Something must have happened in the pile to push Crawford’s button. He popped out of the pile and round-housed one of the big Wolverine tackles. The tackled dropped face first into the turf like a felled tree and lay there motionless as the referees attempted to restore order. When it was all said and done, both Crawford and Stacey had been ejected from the game. Not the best way to end things but the game was over.

The finality of the season hit like it always did – sudden and abrupt. There would be no practices next week. It was over. I was disappointed in the loss and our inability to even come close to halting the Wolverine offense. However, I was amazed (as I had been all season long) at the heart and effort that our players had put out on the field. This team would never quit and would not admit defeat until that last second ticked off the clock.

In early May, I had come to Finland to coach and had no idea about the league, the level of play, or the individual talent I would find here. The integrity, grit, and unity of the Crocodiles family showed forth this day on the field. I walked away this evening with respect and love for every player.

Here are some links for the game:

Gridiron article
TV links for all games broadcast
Post-game article
Post-game gridiron article
Some highlights
TV Broadcast
Full list of play clips

Crocs 45 – TAFT 30

18 August 2013

It was June 8th the last time we played TAFT. TAFT is from the town of Vantaa and stands for Tikkurila American Football Team with Tikkurila being the Vaanta District. Back then we came out with a 27 to 13 win in “The Swamp.” Since then, TAFT had gone on a tear and had only lost two additional games (Wolverines and Roosters) to derive an identical win loss record as the Crocs at 6 and 3. If you read my last week’s blog on the state of the Maple League you would know that the Roosters have the number one playoff seed wrapped up with a perfect 9 and 0 record while TAFT, the Wolverines, and the Crocs were all sitting at 6 wins and 3 losses. Our win against the Wolverines last week locked us into the playoffs but the seeding for second or third spot was now all riding on this game against TAFT. In a nutshell, if we won this second meeting with TAFT on the road we would be seeded second for the semi-final game and get to host the game. If went to Helsinki and lost to TAFT, we would be seeded third and have to travel to Helsinki to play the number one seed Roosters. So, the game had huge financial and playoff implications for the Crocs. Kickoff was at 6PM on Sunday in Helsinki.

standings

The main concerns for our defense in this game were Kadmiry, Privott, and Tellish. Kadmiry is the only Finnish quarterback in the Maple League and also plays for the Finnish National team. He is an accurate passer with decent running abilities. Privott, is a talented American receiver with speed and an uncanny ability to reel the pass in. Tellish is an American running back whose yards come through a healthy mix of rushes and receptions. During our last game I had focused the defense entirely on stopping Privott from taking over the game. We did a good job of limiting him that game by allowing only three receptions for 45 yards. Since then, Kadmiry had been distributing his passes more evenly among his many receivers. This Sunday, I could not just focus on Privott. We had to focus on the passing game as a whole.

The week prior to this game, TAFT had suffered a blistering loss to the Wolverines with a score of 60 to 20 on national television. It was unknown as to their mental state coming off that game to face us. We had been told by TAFT after our first meeting that this final game between the Crocs and TAFT would be hyped as the big game to try and draw as many spectators as possible. This game was also being streamed live to the Internet and then broadcast delayed through television.

Toni Hanka and Scott pre-game

We loaded into the bus and were on the road at 10:45AM on Sunday. The drive was the usual with the exception that my wife, Nancy, would be making the trip with us. She had arrived in Finland the Thursday before for a three-week visit.

The weather was perfect. The sun was out and there were no raindrops in the forecast. We were playing at the ISS Stadium, which turned out to be a fantastic surface. It was field turf and in perfect condition. The only knock on the field were the goalposts. They were “created” out of two soccer goals with four-inch, PVC uprights attached to the ends. We saw this configuration in our first game against the Butchers. The results were goalposts that were too wide and crossbars that were only eight feet high instead of the regulation 10 feet. It would not be that difficult to at least stick some “Tee” joints in the four-inch PVC pipes used for the uprights so that you could create a crossbar at 10 feet.

Introductions captains

We were still a bit thin on defense with Ville Järvio out with a knee injury and our left outside linebacker, Li, out with a pulled hamstring. We did have our big Finnish National defensive tackle Janne back for the game, however. Again, these injuries had influenced our decision on which three Americans would play in today’s game. We had decided to go again with Adams the QB, Joc the running back, and Stacey the safety. This meant our defensive tackle BJ Bell from UNLV would be sitting again.

The team captains met at the center of the concrete field and the coin was flipped. We came up a winner and elected to receive. We began our first possession from our 22 yard line after being unable to return a low, skipping kickoff. The very first play from scrimmage resulted in a “slipping” Crawford picking up no gain. Three plays later we were punting.

kadmiry throw taft score

Kadmiry came out and methodically put together a 63-yard drive into our endzone. TAFT mixed up some runs with some short, effective passes. They were perfect in execution. TAFT was on the board 7 to 0.

On our second possession, we did pick up two quick first downs but then a sacked Adams stalled the drive and we were punting again, this time from our 47 yard line. We downed the ball at the TAFT 24 yard line and Kadmiry and team took the field again.

This time TAFT mounted an 11-play drive to score. Tellish ripped off some decent runs in the teens and Kadmiry hit two different receivers for key receptions before connecting with Privott for the actual scoring strike. The PAT was good to cap off another perfectly executed series of offensive plays. TAFT was playing well and were up 14 to 0 now with just 29 seconds left in the first quarter.

adams in the pocket brown td run

We started our second offensive series on our 43 yard line. Crawford knocked out a run for 10 yards and then Adams connected for some passes to get us to a third and one situation on the TAFT 26 yard line. Adams took the snap from under center and popped a quick bubble pass to the right to a waiting Rodney Brown. Brown took off and threaded the secondary with some deft running to get us into the endzone. Vili hit the PAT and we were on the board – TAFT 14 and Crocs 7.

We kicked off and TAFT began at their 41 yard line. The first play from scrimmage saw Kadmiry from an empty set take the ball up the middle. He was stripped and the ball was loose and we recovered. Croc ball on the TAFT 49 yard line.

fumble recovery crawford another score

After a short pass completion to Makinen for six yards, Crawford rushed for 18, 23, and 2 yards to score. Vili hit the PAT and we were tied with 8:11 left in the half.

We kicked off with a short “hole” kick that is designed to allow us a shot at getting the ball. However, it was fielded by one of the TAFT second-tier players and they had the ball on the 50. Kadmiry opened with two completed passes and then they rushed the ball eight consecutive times to find the endzone. We had come into the game with a pass-minded strategy. So, the fact that TAFT could pick up medium yard runs was no surprise. The PAT was good and TAFT led 21 to 14.

The offense was back on the field after the kickoff and Crawford opened with a rush for two yards. Then, Adams found a deep Rodney Brown and connected for 45 yards to the TAFT six yard line. We failed to make progress, though, with Crawford getting dropped for a six yard loss and ended up lining up for a 26-yard field goal attempt. Vili split the makeshift PVC uprights and it was TAFT 21 and Crocs 17 with 1:30 remaining in the half.

After the kickoff, TAFT began on their own 31 yard line. With all three timeouts available, and a quarterback that could thread the needle, TAFT was able to move the ball to within field goal range. Defensively, we were employing a “loose” system to prevent a big score right before half. After spending their final timeout, TAFT lined up for 48 yard field goal, which they hit with the ball barely clearing the eight-foot crossbar. This irritated me but I had to live with it. Another thing that irritated me during this drive was a “spiked” ball from the shotgun position. I was sure this was a delay of game penalty since both the NFL and National High School Rules dictate that you can only intentionally spike the ball to stop the clock after taking a snap from under center. Later, after I got home I tried in vain to find the exact ruling on that for the NCAA, which is the set of rules the Maple League uses so I can’t definitively say the referees were wrong but I think they might have been. Regardless, the half ended with TAFT leading 24 to 17.

taft field goal taft fg signal and post shot

During the break, we gathered in the near corner of the stadium and split up into our respective groups. I waited a bit before addressing the defense. I told them that TAFT was doing nothing differently than what we expected. They were playing the same type of game they played against us back in June. We were either not playing at the same level or they were executing better. I challenged them to up the level of play and I made a few defensive personnel changes for the second half.

brown pick crawford score

We started the second half with a couple attempted kickoffs, the first going out of bounds. TAFT began on their own 37 yard line. The first play from scrimmage was an attempted out route to a receiver who was covered by Rodney in the flats. Rodney made a great positional move to get between the quarterback and the receiver and intercepted the ball. This was turnover number two and we had the ball on the TAFT 41 yard line.

Eight plays later we scored. Adams had made this a passing drive. We hit several nice medium range passes and then Crawford capped the drive with a two yard plunge. Vili hit the PAT and we were tied at 24.

goal line stop

On their next drive, TAFT got the ball to our 37 yard line on a couple passes after some failed runs. Four rushes later they were on our 17 yard line. Two more rushes gave them a first and goal situation from our six. So far, TAFT was predominately running the ball, which was a strategy I purposely chose to ignore today.

From the six yard line, they handed the ball off to Tellish who picked up a single yard. Then, they went to the air three consecutive times and we shut each pass down. It was a great goal line stand and we had the ball on our own five yard line.

The offense took the field and Crawford immediately broke a run for 32 yards to our 37 yard line. With a second down and 10, Crawford ripped another run off this time for 33 yards. The remainder of the drive involved a couple nice catches by Rodney and some short bursts from Crawford. It was a 94 yard, 10-play scoring drive when Crawford punched the ball in from the three yard line. Vili hit the PAT and we had captured the lead at 31 to 24 with 11:42 remaining in the game.

taft penalty tackling tellish

We kicked the ball deep and TAFT brought it out to their 36 yard line. TAFT continued to employ the strategy of spreading us out and then running the ball. Unfortunately, for them, this drive was laced with two separate holding penalties. So they found themselves with a third down and 22 situation on their 48 yard line. Ironically, they were forced to pass. They completed a 12 yard pass and then missed on the fourth down attempt. Another stop for our defense.

We took over on our 40 yard line. Two Crawford rushes netted 28 yards. These were followed by a 14-yard reception by Rodney and a 29-yard scoring run by Crawford. Vili added the PAT between the Home Depot uprights and the Crocs lead moved up to 38 to 24.

tackling taft

We kicked off and TAFT took the ball to their 28 yard line. They moved the ball to the 40 yard line and had a fresh set of downs. At this point the bigger defensive game plan was starting to kick in. We had gotten them into a position where they needed to start passing the ball more. From the 40, two incomplete passes and a quarterback sack forced a fourth down punt from their own 34 yard line.

The punt went out of bounds on our 41 yard line. Adams lined up the offense and handed off to Crawford who went 59 yards for the score. Vili added the PAT and it was Crocs 45 and TAFT 24.

kadmiry throwing privott catch and run

TAFT returned the ensuing kickoff to their 25 yard line. At this point in the game I started to make some substitutions in the defensive linebacker and secondary ranks. TAFT put together a good 11-play scoring drive that ate up most of the remaining game clock. The scoring play was a rollout to the right by Kadmiry that confused a bango strategy on two stacked receivers. As Kadmiry approached the line of scrimmage, he was able to flip the ball forward into the waiting arms of Privott for the score. The snap and hold were bad on the PAT and the “fire” play missed. So the score with 45 seconds to go was Crocs 45 and TAFT 30.

We took the kickoff and kneeled the ball out to end the game. We had done what we said we needed to do four weeks ago – we had “won out” and secured a home playoff game. We would be facing the pissed off and tough Wolverines next Sunday in “The Swamp.”

After some talks with the media and the Finnish National Coach, who was in attendance, we finally got off the field. A while later we were pulling out of the parking lot and starting the four hour trip home. The trip was not too bad and we arrived around 3AM. Nancy and I had not rode our bikes to the field house so we made the short mile walk back to the apartment.

Here are some links on the game:

Game statistics
Game playlist as .MP4 files you can view or download
Television broadcast
Some pictures
Broadcast highlights
Gridiron article
Article by touchdown.fi
Article from ILKKA.fi
Article from SAJL
Article from Croc site
Game day article from Croc site
More pictures

Crocs 33 – 69ers 19

10 August 2013

It had been two months almost to the day since we played the Helsinki 69ers back in June. That game was a rebound from our opening thrashing by the Butchers. So here we were two months later and on a three-game winning streak and a chance to lock in one of the four playoff positions in the Maple League. All we had to do was travel to Helsinki and beat the 69ers for the second time this season. Kickoff was set in the Velodrome for 5PM on Saturday.

velodrome

This would be our second game on the Velodrome tarmac. The surface could best be described as a thin coating of green colored bristles whose job was to pass as “carpet.” Underneath, from bottom-up, was a foundation of concrete, an eighth of an inch of rubberized carpet pad, and a final thin burlap-like coating. The combination was a dangerous surface that could take skin off like a cheese grater and pop a knee like a seasoned chiropractor.

The 69ers had been struggling and had managed only a single win this season. We, on the other hand, had moved into a bit of a groove and were competing with the Wolverines and TAFT for the second, third, and fourth playoff seeds. A win against the 69ers would put us at 6 and 3 and guarantee a spot in the playoffs. A win by the Wolverines on Sunday would put them at 6 and 3 as well but we would have the tie-breaker as we had beat them just last week by 7 points and their win over us was by 3 points. Conveniently, the Wolverines were playing TAFT in a week’s time. TAFT was sitting at 6 and 2. So, the positioning for seeds two, three, and four were coming down to the last couple of weeks of the season.

We loaded into the bus and were on the road at 9:45AM on Saturday. The drive was the usual, which consisted of a couple movies and a couple stops at ABC store/gas/restaurant businesses. The weather spit out some rain but the forecast predicted a dry game. We pulled into the Velodrome right on schedule at 3PM.

We had our trainer with us so I skirted having to tape. My back was thankful. We were very thin tonight on defense. Last game we lost a key player, Ville Järvio to a knee injury early in the Wolverine game. We also would not be playing our big Finnish defensive tackle Janne, who was nursing a rib injury. Finally, our starting left outside linebacker was out with a pulled hamstring. These injuries had influenced our decision on which three Americans would play in today’s game. Recall that we have four Americans on the roster but are allowed to dress only three for each game. We had decided to go again with Adams the QB, Joc the running back, and Stacey the safety. This meant our defensive tackle BJ Bell from UNLV would be sitting again. Not the best of situations. Even though BJ had not played for the last two weeks, his contributions during the week are immeasurable. Football is a team effort that involves everyone week by week. BJ helps coach the defensive line during the mid-week practices and gives good looks during team sessions.

coaches captains

The team captains met at the center of the concrete field and the coin was flipped. We came up a winner and elected to receive. We began our first possession from the 50 after Vili took a short kick to mid-field. Two passes later we were in the endzone. The 2-point try failed so it was Crocs 6 and 69ers 0 just like that.

We kicked off and the 69ers would start at their 41 yard line. The featured player for them is Charles McCrea. Charles McCrea, was a talented and fast running back that could also throw the ball. McCrea had played many years for the Crocodile organization. He was a dangerous runner in the open-field.

jussi defending

The 69ers moved the ball methodically downfield with a mix of running and passing plays. At our 25 yard line they were faced with a Fourth and two situation and converted on a McCrea rush for five yards. From the 20, McCrea took the ball another five yards. Then, the 69ers went to the air for three consecutive incomplete passes. We had a nice stop on downs inside the Red Zone.

Doc pick doc defending

Our next possession was short lived as we fumbled the ball away around our own 36 yard line. However, the very first play from the 69ers resulted in our corner “Doc” grabbing an errant pass for an interception. We had the ball back with no damage from the fumble.

We mounted a drive to the 69er 20 yard line and on Fourth and 14 attempted a 37 yard field goal. It was blocked. The 69ers took over from our 25 yard line. Unfortunately, for them, on third down, the quarterback, Thomas, threw his second pick… again to Tuomas (Doc) who this time made a great plant-and-break move from the hip position to slip in front of the receiver who was on a hitch route. So with just 25 seconds remaining on the clock in the First Quarter, we had the ball on the 69er 37 yard line.

We put together a 10 play drive that got us a first and goal from the one yard line. Then on a play-action pass to the corner, Adams threw an interception, which was downed in the end zone. The 69ers would start from their own 20 yard line with a fresh set of downs.

laurie getting ejected

After several McCrea runs and some key passes mixed in there, the 69ers had a first and goal from our 8 yard line. Rushes for 3, 1, and 0 in that order set up a fourth and goal from the 4 yard line. They went to the corner and we were flagged with a defensive pass interference call. This was devastating as it gave them a fresh set of downs and put the ball on the 2 yard line. If this wasn’t bad enough the next play was. McCrea took the ball and our top linebacker Laurie Anttila dropped him for a 2 yard loss. However, some extra-curricular rolling while holding McCrea’s legs got Laurie ejected from the game. This gave them a new set of downs with the ball on the 2 yard line again and relieved us of one of the few linebackers we had available for the game. I was not happy at this point. Meanwhile, McCrea was helped off the field with what appeared to be a season ending injury by the looks of things.

juho tackling stokes 69er score

Nothing short of a small medical miracle must have occurred on the 69er sideline because McCrea was back in to attempt a pass and then run for the touchdown himself evening out the score. The 69ers hit the PAT and were leading 7 to 6 with 3:53 remaining in the half.

brown td catch mcrea long td run

We took the kick and Crawford got us 16 yards on the return out to our 36 yard line. A quick 14-yard pass to Rodney Brown followed not too far after with a 51-yard strike again to Brown had us in the end zone. Vili hit the PAT with 3:12 to go in the half and we led 13 to 7.

We kicked off and the 69ers ran a small one yard rush from scrimmage out to the 69er 43 yard line. Then, on a simple isolation play off the left tackle, McCrea popped the seam and went the distance for their second score. They missed the PAT so the score was tied at 13 each.

We got the ball after the kick on our own 40 with 1:50 remaining in the half. Since the play that saw the ejection of our backer, we had looked like a confused team. And this next drive completely reinforced that. We used the remaining minute and fifty seconds to net ourselves nine yards in 11 plays, 6 of which were penalties against us. The final play of the half saw us with fourth and 42 yards to go on our own 49 yard line. Thankfully, the half ended.

We met in the corner of the Velodrome’s steep banked surface. The defense had split out to my right and I addressed them right away. It was obvious that we had showed up and had expected the 69ers to simply roll over and admit defeat upon our arrival. Were we already looking ahead to the critical game against TAFT the next weekend? It is an interesting phenomenon in sports. Collectively, a team can say they are not overlooking an opponent but then not show up mentally for the game. I think a little bit of this had happened to us today. So, the only adjustments I made were to remind them, emphatically, that we had a game to play.

We lined up to kick the ball off to start the second half. Vili dropped a perfect short sideline kick into the hole midway between the returners and the second tier players. Doc, our gunner, had been able to get to the ball on the first bounce and had just kept his feet in bounds while he controlled the football. Crocs ball on the 69er 44 yard line. Five plays later with a 22 yard run by Crawford and we had scored. Vili’s PAT made it Crocs 20 and 69ers 13.

jock running risto blocking brown punt return td

After the kick, the 69ers had the ball on their 44 yard line. They managed a first down against a rejuvenated Croc defense. Then, a couple penalties effectively killed the drive – a false start and a delay of game. They lined up to punt the ball away from the 50 yard line. Rodney Brown went deep for us and fielded the kick in the air. He worked his way towards our sideline and found blockers that helped him spring one for 88 yards and the endzone. We missed the PAT so it was Crocs 26 and 69ers 13.

We kicked off to the 38 yard line and stuffed the return for a loss of 3 yards. 69ers would essentially use this drive to eat up the rest of the third quarter. They got to our 11 yard line sitting on a first down by mixing in a few passes with a steady dose of McCrea rushes. After a 2 yard rush from McCrea they then went to the air three times in a row with each pass bouncing incomplete. We had had held them in the red zone.

We took over on our 9 yard line. On third down, Crawford busted open a 57 yard rush to the 69er 24 yard line. Then, Adams dropped to pass and was picked on the 69er 24 yard line. We were having our share of turnovers today. And, so were the 69ers. On their 7th play of that drive they threw into a zone coverage and our left linebacker, Tobias Maki, was waiting in the curl zone to come up with the ball. Pick number 3 by the Crocs.

We took over on our own 44 yard line with 8:04 remaining in the game. We put together a 6 play drive that consisted of 4 runs and two passes to come up with our final score. One of the rushing plays featured our cornerback, Doc, as the tailback. Vili hit the PAT to make the score Crocs 33 and 69ers 13.

jock running vili catch

We kicked off and the 69ers started with the ball on their own 25 yard line. After a short run, they quickly were in our territory on the back of a 31-yard completed pass to Williams. Then, after a one yard run by McCrea, the quarterback, Thomas, hit three consecutive passes for 14, 14, and 8 yards, respectively. The last pass was to McCrea and it was in the corner of the endzone. He made the catch on an underthrown corner throw and had had to come back through our defender. That drew the defensive pass interference call from the referee. But, it didn’t matter as McCrea had made the catch anyway. They missed the PAT so the score was Crocs 33 and 69ers 19.

We finished the game with our second string running team, which consisted of Doc and Risto. The clock wound to zero and the game was done. We had done what we needed to do this week and were left with a final game against TAFT next Sunday.

It took about an hour and half to get to the point where we were pulling out of the parking lot and starting the 4 hour trip home. Of course, the first stop was at a small market within 30 minutes of leaving… beer stop. Later, we hit an ABC for a late dinner. I stuck to some almonds and Pringles from the store part of the stop. I was not hungry enough for the full buffet.

Amazingly I slept a good portion of the return trip. We had one more stop to stretch our legs and then about 40 kilometres later we were pulling into home. It was about 1:40 in the morning.

Here are some links on the game:

Game statistics
Game playlist as .MP4 files you can view or download
Interview mid-week before the game with Charlie
Pre-game article from the Croc website
Article from the SAJL site
Pre-game article from Gridiron site
Post-game article from the Croc site
Post-game article from Gridiron site

Vauhtiajot 2013

27 July 2013

Seinäjoki held their annual Vauhtiajot event over the weekend of the 27th. What this is a rock and race summer festival. They have a lot of Finnish bands arrive and play. Unlike Provinssirock, which was held earlier here this summer, Vauhtiajot has just a single, large stage on which bands perform.

Aside from the music part of the festival, Vauhtiajot has an auto component. They have races during the day a short ways out of town. Charlie and I were able to attend the music part Saturday for a while. We did not make it to the auto part because of film work on Sunday… too busy.

That day we had just finished beating the Jags on our home field, “The Swamp.” I could afford to go out a bit and celebrate. Tomorrow would bring a long day of film work, which usually consisted of about 14 hours in front of the computer. So tonight, I was going to meet Charlie at his apartment and head over to the festival.

I got there about 9:30PM and we headed over to the area where it was being held. What they did was block off a huge area in the town and that became the festival area. The gate fee is pretty expensive but I had received some complimentary tickets from my friend Jussi, who works for a local radio station here. He also provides a lot of great photos of our games. Jussi had given us two separate passes (Friday and Saturday). And, we had a VIP badge to get us into an exclusive area of the festival. Charlie and I had used them both nights. Yesterday we went for just a while to check it out. We did not stay late as it was the night before a game. We actually ran into Janne our friend who owns the music store. He and his wife were there along with some other friends, one of which was an ex-Crocodile lineman that I had a great time visiting with. I had had dinner with Janne and the lineman’s brother on the evening that we went to Provinssirock.

We walked the short few blocks through the heart of town to get to the festival. You could tell as you neared it as there were more and more people loitering about on the edges of the buildings and walking about in the street. I could tell this was not a small event. You could hear the throbbing bass from the current band’s performance. The night was perfect… no rain, no coat, and it was still light.

Eventually, we got to the entrance. It was standard stuff here. Queue it up and get frisked at a security checkpoint and then you are in. We by-passed the lines where you pay to get in as we had our passes.

entry

Once inside we experienced a wad of people that were slowly moving down toward the stage area. To the right and left of the wide street we were on were vendors selling mainly beer. Some were selling food items but it was mostly beer tents. We kept moving down toward the VIP area that we had briefly visited Friday night. Before going in we stopped and listened to the current band for a while. Don’t ask me their name but I was assured later that all the bands were well-known in Finland.

stage

We decided to go into the VIP area. This area was a roped off affair that was virtually identical to the common man’s area except for a few tables set out along the edge. Other than that, it was the same. You had the same mix of wasted people in there, just as many guys in double-arm locks being escorted out, and the same six Euro beers. I am not quite sure where the Very Important Person part came in. But then… we discovered it. I spotted a familiar face cutting through the crowd. She was moving with purpose and drinks in hand. A slender cigar was between her lips and her sights were locked on Grezgorz (or as I call him Gregory), who was a short ways away in the crowd. The woman’s name was Katja. I have mentioned them both once or twice in previous blogs. I first met Gregory and Kat at the Crocodile season kickoff party. Gregory is orginally from Poland. He has been in Finland for five years. One of the nicest guys I have met. Kat is his girlfriend and very friendly and funny. Two of my favorite people that I have met while here in Finland.

Charlie and I got a couple of beers and headed over to say hi and hang some with Gregory and their gang. They had Maria (Kats sister) there. Equally entertaining and funny. I knew we were in for a kick this evening.

Greg Charlie Kat Greg Kat Scott

We spent about 2 hours there just hanging out and drinking and laughing. There were various people that popped in and out of the circle that Gregory introduced Charlie and I to. We would visit a bit and I would try my best to understand the questions with the rock music going in the background and the Suomi accents. One guy was impossible to understand. Charlie could not get a single word figured out from him as well.

Finally, around midnight, we decided to head over to Karma, a local club. We said our goodbyes and exited the festival.

Karma was jammed. We hung out for about an hour with several of the Crocodile players in various stages of celebration. At about 1:30 I needed to get to bed. I had a long day of film work ahead of me tomorrow. So, I got onto the bike and rode back to the apartment in the modest somewhat dark Finnish morning.

Crocs 35 – Wolverines 28

3 August 2013

poster

Saturday we had the second of four final games that for us are being considered “playoff” games. Each game is critically important to the final playoff seeding for the run at the Maple League Championship held on August 31st. Last week, we took the first step by beating the winless Jags at home. This week, it was against the powerful Helsinki Wolverines. Recall that back on July 7th in our fourth game, the Wolverines beat us 24 to 21 in a game that went down to the final two seconds. They hit a 47-yard field goal to end it in the Velodromi. That was a tough loss and we have had it in the backs of our minds since then. This Saturday, we had a second shot at them in “The Swamp.”

standings

The Maple League standings are working out so that there is a clear leader that will wrap up top seed for the playoffs. The Helsinki Roosters are undefeated an 8 and 0 and have not had a close game. The second, third, and fourth spots are up for grabs.

The Wolverines feature an athletic and mobile quarterback named Cedric Johnson. They also have a talented running back named Stephen Stokes, who has worked hard to find success in American Football in Europe. One of the places Stokes played after his high school days was at Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande Oregon. You can read about Stokes here in an excellent article, which was written in 2011 the year the Wolverines won the Maple League Championship. Finally, they signed a Canadian wide receiver named Jordan Brescacinin who is a dual passport player (Canadian and Italian), which means he does not count as an import player. Brescacinin came out of the University of Windsor with a set of impressive stats. Brescacinin played his first Maple League game against us last time we met and had over 100 yards receiving. Stokes and Johnson are very dangerous runners and extremely elusive and can score on any given play. Overall, the Wolverines can strike like lightning. Add to this the fact that their offensive line is comprised of literal giants. They are huge.

Management did a good job of hyping this game up due to its playoff implications and the rivalry that has developed between the two clubs. The close TV game earlier helped as well. We could expect about 500 people at the game. That is not a lot by American standards but American football here is a side note at this point in its history. The weather was good for the game. In fact the temperature at 4PM kickoff would be in the 70’s. That degree mark combined with the rubberized field turf meant a hot game for the day.

coming out for introductions coaches

We lined up for the coin flip shortly after introductions, which were marred by a PA failure. Our team did not get the benefit of individual introductions after the Wolverine’s were introduced. I guess we would not get the entertainment built into individualized Ray Lewis-like theatrics many of the players seem to like. The toss went the way of the Wolverines and they chose to receive the ball.

kicking off stacey pick number one

The kick was brought back to the 30 and Stokes immediately ripped off a 20 yard rush to get to midfield. However, on second down from there Johnson lofted a deep ball and our safety Stacey Thomas came up with an opening drive interception. A good way to start the defense.

The offense stalled out on their first possession and we were forced to punt. The Wolverines started on their own 45 yard line. The Wolverines were hit with the first of many penalties for the day (holding in this case). On the first and long, Stokes rushed for eight but Ville forced a fumble and we came up with it. Second turnover of the game already. We had great field position on the Wolverine 31 yard line.

Five unspectacular plays later that were a mix of runs and passes found us in the endzone when Adams connected with Makinen on an 8-yard TD pass. The PAT was good and we were on the board – Crocs 7 and Wolverines zero.

We kicked off and Stokes skitted and juked his way to a 47 yard return out to our 41 yard line. I was getting frustrated at our inability to contain this guy. Arm tackling does not cut it with Stokes. The defense was strong here though and we forced a three and out. The Wolverines punted the ball away giving it back to us on our 23 yard line.

This drive went nowhere. On the second play the Wolverines penetrated and dropped Crawford for a six yard loss setting up an incomplete third down pass. Another punt. The Wolverines have probably the toughest run defense in the Maple League lead by a very tough linebacker named DaSilva. We punted from deep and Stokes managed a 13 yard return to give the Wolverines great field position on our 45 yard line.

shifty stokes us tackling stokes

The Wolverines got tagged for another holding call on the first play of the series pushing them back temporarily into their territory. Then, a 21-yard completion finished with two big runs of 11 and 22 yards, respectively, by Johnson had them in the endzone. The PAT was good and the game was tied at seven each with 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

crawford breakaway

The Wolverines lined up the kick and Crawford took it at the 15. We opened a great lane with our return team and Crawford took the ball 85 yards for our second score. PAT was good and it was Crocs 14 and Wolverines 7.

Stokes took the ensuing kickoff back for 30 yards (the guy is near impossible to tackle) and they had the ball at the 50. The defense stepped up though and forced another three and out. The punt sailed out of bounds on our 18 yard line with the second quarter underway.

adams passing

On the first play of the drive, Adams hit a slanting Crawford for about an eight yard catch. Crawford found some daylight and 82 yards later was in the endzone. Again, the PAT was good so it was now Crocs 21 and Wolverines 7. We were getting some great explosive plays and building an all-important point buffer that would be needed for this game. One downside though was it was putting our defense on the field for the majority of time. That would take its toll later.

We kicked and the Wolverines returned the ball 24 yards to our 48 yard line. They were getting great field position on our poor kick return coverage. Johnson opened with a 20-yard pass to Mankki. That was the end of the drive though. Some good pass defense denied three consecutive passes and a fourth down run fell short. Crocs got the ball on downs on their own 33 yard line.

juho defending THE HIT

This drive was in the air. Adams hit three passes and was helped with a defensive pass interference call on another pass. The scoring throw was to Makinen for 34 yards. PAT was through and the score was Crocs 28 and Wolverines 7 with 8:18 remaining in the first half. I was feeling good about the lead we had. As I mentioned, the Wolverines are very capable of hitting the endzone on any given play from anywhere.

Jussi after pick

We kicked off and finally contained the returner (not Stokes this time). From their own 29 yard line, Johnson went to the air again. This time Jussi Koivumaki was waiting in the weeds deep and got the pick. Crocs ball after a return of 18 yards. We had the ball on the Wolverine 34 yard line in great field position.

Several stupid penalties shoved us back into a third and 21 spot on the Wolverine 45 yard line. Adams launched it and the Wolverines were hit with another defensive pass interference call. We caught a break there and got the first down back on the Wolverine 31 yard line. We worked the ball down to a fourth and nine situation from the Wolverine 30 but came up a yard short on the completion. Wolverine ball on their own 22 yard line.

The Wolverines handed the ball off to Stokes and he got the first down with a 10-yard rush. Then on a third and 15 situation, Johnson found the Canadian, Brescacin, open on the seam and he went the 73-yard distance to the endzone. The PAT was good and the score was Crocs 28 and Wolverines 14.

We took the kick and were quickly forced to punt from our 19 yard line giving the Wolverines the ball on our 49 yard line with a 1:59 to go in the half. The Wolverines continued to commit penalties and found themselves faced with a second and 27. They could not overcome the hole they had put themselves in and turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert a fourth and seven from the Croc 41 yard line.

The half ended with a three and out for punting the ball away and the Wolverines running a couple plays. Halftime score – Crocs 28 and Wolverines 14.

Down on the grassy knoll we separated into our groups. The defense found some relief in a shaded area and kneeled down to address them. I made a slight cover adjustment. I also encouraged them to break down in space and make sure tackles that did not involve standing upright and grabbing with arms. Finally, I reminded them that this team can score instantly from anywhere and this lead we had was far from secure. We took more water and returned to the field where we would receive the second half kick.

crawford running

We took the kick and took charge on offense. We opened with a six yard run followed by a 14 yard completion for a first down. Crawford then ripped off a 40 yard run to the one yard line. We banged it in at the 9:48 mark and hit the PAT. Crocs 35 and Wolverines 14.

The Wolverines took the kick and started on their own 40 yard line. Their drive was a carbon copy of the last full drive they had in the first half. They committed an illegal block and personal foul penalties and found themselves with a third and 23 to go on their 42 yard line. Fourth down brought out the punt team.

After the punt, we started on our 27 yard line and ended up punting the ball away from our 42 yard line. The punt was good and rolled forever. It was downed on the Wolverine 14 yard line. Finally, we had them starting in a hole.

After an attempted reverse by Brescacin, Johnson hit the Canadian for 35 and 16-yard passes, respectively. yard completion. Two runs later, Stokes and Johnson had the Wolverines with a first and goal from our eight yard line. On third down, Stokes found daylight through the left tackle hole and was in the endzone. PAT was good and it was Crocs 35 and Wolverines 21.

onside kick

We lined up for the kick return and did our usual yelling warning the front line to be ready for any short of onside attempts. Sure enough, they kicked the onside. This kick was about as perfect of an onside kick as I have ever seen. I spent a good amount of time the next day looking at the video of it and the ball skipped low traveling the required 10 yards. Just as it literally broke the 40 yard line it was grabbed by the Wolverines amongst a massive front line collision. It was a perfectly executed onside kick. Wolverine’s ball on their own 41 yard line.

Renewed with momentum, the Wolverines quickly line up and we were in disarray. We ended up having to burn a timeout just to get the defense back on the field and in the right spots. Not that it helped us on this drive. A Stokes run for 28 and a Johnson to Brescacin completion for 31 yards had the Wolverines in the endzone. The PAT was good and we had a one score game with Crocs 35 and Wolverines 28 with one minute to go in the third quarter.

We took the kick and Crawford returned the ball 41 yards down to the Wolverine 37 yard line. We had a nice leaping short completion to Thomas for eight yards and then a couple plays later another completion to Crawford for 24 yards to give us a first and goal at the Wolverine four yard line.

wolverine pick

We managed to get into a third and goal from the two when Adams booted to the right and under pressure threw a weak high pass to the corner that was picked and downed in the endzone. We missed on a golden opportunity here giving the Wolverines the ball on their own 20 yard line.

With 10:26 remaining in the game, the Wolverines started what was to be a long, hot drive. Our defense was getting worn down and I had gotten the comment from one of our corners that it was getting hard to think out there.

Johnson opened up with up with an 11 yard run to get the first down. The Wolverines got hit with an illegal motion on second and eight giving them a second and 13. Johnson took and end run to the left for nine yards. They converted on the third and four from their 37 yard line by completing a hitch pass down the right sideline to Brescacin 28. The catch was short but the missed open-field tackle compounded our situation. Stokes ripped off a run for 9 and they followed that with another throw to Brescacin for 13. We dropped Stokes for three yards but on the next play we got hit with a defensive pass interference call giving the Wolverines a fresh set of downs on our two yard line. Based on the flow of this game, I was seriously worried at this point.

Stokes sack1 Doc sack

With first and goal from the two, we got great penetration and dropped Stokes for a four yard loss. Then, the Wolverines were caught holding again and ended up back on our 15 yard line with second and goal. They ran a good out route to Brescacin for 11 yards to our four yard line. With third and goal from the four yard line we got to Stokes again in the backfield for a one yard loss. This set up a fourth and goal from the five yard line.

The play was designed as a quaterback boot to the right out of a full-house backfield. They sold the run to the left and Johnson booted away to the right. Our cornerback Tuomas had clamped the backside down and surprised Johnson as he began rolling. That forced a improvised pass over the middle to nobody in particular. The ball actually was touched by an eligible receiver but dropped to the turf ending the drive. Crocs take over on their five yard line with 3:54 remaining.

Crawford runs of six and 10 yards, respectively, got us some breathing room. With a fresh set of downs all we needed was another first down to kill the game. But, we can’t manage any significant gains and shot ourselves in the foot with a false start penalty. With a fourth and 11 from the 20 yard line we lined up to punt.

The snap was poor, actually bouncing, and we got off a weak punt of 19 yards. This was looking exactly like our last meeting with the Wolverines where we had to punt late in the game and managed a 10 yard punt off the side of Brown’s foot. Wolverines take over on our 39 yard line with 1:05 remaining.

A quick out route to Brescacin for five yards started the drive. We defended the second down pass but Johnson managed a 10 yard end run on third down to get the first putting the ball on our 24 yard line. We forced him out of bounds and the clock stopped. With a first and 10 at our 24 yard line, Johnson dropped to pass. He found no receivers and took off on a scramble. The Wolverines were caught holding though during their pass protection. And to further their issues, they were flagged for an unsportsmanlike move as Johnson was hurrying to try and get up out of the pile. All this resulted in a first and 36 from the 50 yard line with about 40 seconds remaining.

Johnson dropped and launched a deep fade down the right sideline that was well defended by our corner and safety, which was Crawford now. Earlier in the game, we had lost Ville to a knee injury. Ville is a hard-nosed, tough player that adds a lot to the defense. We had had to make some player personnel adjustments after that.

impact

With a second down and 36 from the 50 yard line, Johnson dropped again and was looking for his Canadian receiver deep down the left sideline. Toni, our corner had good deep position on him and leaped into the air to make a play on the ball. Brescacin also launched his six foot five frame high up to make the catch. During all this, Crawford at 230 pounds was racing from the middle safety spot to assist. At the peak of the leap, Toni and Brescacin barely missed the long ball and Crawford delivered a booming, full-speed hit from the middle. Brescacin was down for bit but rallied and got to his feet.

The hit caused a lot of controversy as the Wolverines believed it was an illegal helmet-to-helmet malicious strike. From where I stood, it looked legal and it had occurred close enough to the point of the ball being catchable. No call from the referee except for the incomplete pass. I looked at the film long and hard to see exactly how this hit happened. That last picture is a still shot of the moment of impact I pulled from the video.

During this same play, there was a Wolverine player that had driven one of our linebackers into the ground late on the play and away from everything such that the backfield judge threw the flag for a personal foul. Lots of heated verbal exchanges occurred after the play as the ball was marched back to the Wolverine 35 yard line setting up a second down and 51 situation. The final play, of course, was anticlimactic as time ran off the clock.

scott after game charlie after game

The Crocs had evened the score with the Wolverines. The win put us tied by record with them but the margin of victory was seven points for us against their three points – tie-breaker goes to the Crocs should it come down to that for playoff seeding.

On a side note, I went out that night after getting a call from Mika asking me to meet him down at Wilson’s Pub. We wandered about at various places as they systematically issued their “last calls.” I eventually ended up at Karma’s, a local club, where I met and visited with three of the Wolverine players (all linemen). These people are truly giants. Two of them towered over me and one other fellow, who I really got a chance to talk with was not as towering but very large. All three were very nice with me and I enjoyed meeting and visiting with them immensely.

Here are some useful links on the game:

Video highlight reel

Post-game interview with quarterback Steve Adams and Coach Charlie

Stats for the game

Post-game article from crocodile.fi

Post-game article from gridiron.fi

This game was not televised so for those interested, here is a server where the game clips are listed. Clicking on any clip plays it.