Football is a sport that has long been known for its physicality and toughness, and one of the core principles of the game is the importance of a strong defense. As the famous quote among the football community goes, ”Defense wins Championships.” With less than a week away from the Roosters first game against the Steelers, this season preview will delve into the team’s defensive unit and highlight some of the players to watch.
The defensive line is shaping up to be a formidable force. Securing the middle of the line is defensive tackle Will Lydle, an import from Western Colorado who brings a combination of strength and quickness to the unit. On the edges, Camille Gruel is a proven veteran with both speed and power, while up-and-coming prospect Malek Jaradat looks poised for a breakout season. Two newcomers from Kotka, Neem Rauankoski and Eemil Raudas, add depth and versatility to the line, while James Perrineau, a transfer from the Wolverines, brings a physical presence up the middle. Simeon Siltamäki and Jarno Lipola are hungry newcomers to the line eager to make an impact, while August Wahlstein will be looking to build on his promising rookie campaign.
DL: William Lydle
The linebacking corps is a mix of seasoned veterans and up-and-coming talent. Taavi Aronpää, the physical middle linebacker, has established himself as a leader on defense, while Sampo Ranta, a four-time Maple Bowl champion, will un-retire and return to the Roosters for the upcoming year. Niklas Lagström, a rookie starter in 2022, and Aaro Rask, a transfer from ECG, both on the U19 national team are ready to have an impact this season. Hard-working Aleksi Statsevich, a transfer from the Oulu Northern Lights, will add valuable depth to the position.
LB: Taavi Aronpää
The safety position is anchored by team captain Tuukka Hämäläinen, who has a full offseason under his belt after making a comeback in the middle of 2022. Alongside him, smart second-generation DB Jaakko Jokinen is looking to establish himself as a Maple League starter in 2023 after making his debut in the men’s national team last year. Long-time Rooster Akseli Olin is making a switch from corner to safety alongside Timo Oksanen, who is entering his second year in the system. Finally, veteran leader of the defense Niko Kuikka will split his time between coaching and playing this season, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position.
Safety: Tuukka Hämäläinen
When it comes to the corners, the Roosters are counting on youth and explosiveness. Eino Marno and Lucas Suokas, two players from the junior program, are entering their first season in the Maple League. Elias Ylitalo, who showed impressive development in his rookie campaign, will enter his second year as a potential impact player. The leader of the pack appears to be Aku Kattainen, bringing national team experience and versatility to the group. Eero Saarinen, a transfer from Hämeenlinna, and youngster Oskari Toijala, a junior national team starter, are both expected to have a strong debut with the defense as well.
Cornerback: Elias Ylitalo
As the Roosters prepare for their 2023 campaign, the defense under mastermind and national team coach Kalle Karpinnen will play a critical role in the team’s success. And with a combination of veterans and up-and-coming youngsters, fans should be excited about this upcoming season.