The football season is just around the corner, and fans are eagerly anticipating the start of the new year. For the Helsinki Roosters, there are plenty of reasons for optimism, particularly when it comes to the offensive side of the ball. With a strong offseason behind them, the team has made several key additions to their roster and will be looking to improve their 8-4 record last year. This season preview will delve into the team’s offensive unit and highlight some of the players to watch.
Undoubtedly, the quarterback position is one of the most crucial positions in football, and a team’s offseason moves often reflect its importance. One of the most significant additions made by the team was signing Dimitrios Sinodinos, a former McGill quarterback and CFL prospect. Sinodinos’ skills and abilities are expected to bring a new dimension to the team’s offense, which finished fourth in scoring in 2022. The team also added depth to the quarterback position with the development of young Jerry Silomaa. The Roosters junior program player and U19 National Team quarterback will be entering his first season in the Maple League.
QB: Dimitrios Sinodinos
The Helsinki Roosters boast one of the strongest offensive lines, not only in the Maple League, but arguably in Europe for the 2023 season. Anchoring the line is veteran center Mikko Toiminen, who returns to the team after winning the 2022 championship with the Stockholm Mean Machines. Flanking Toiminen are guards Aleksi Närhi and Aki Aho, two physical and aggressive players who have established themselves as key components of the unit.
Tony Koskinen, a versatile tackle who can play multiple positions on the line, returns to the Roosters after a season with the Innsbruck Raiders in the ELF. Samuli Vehkomäki, a Maple League veteran and team leader, enters his 11th season with the Roosters, bringing invaluable experience and knowledge to the group. Eighteen-year-old college prospect Viktor Asklöf is also entering his second season with the team after being one of the youngest starters on the line in his 2022 rookie campaign. Providing depth to the unit are Akusti Saarinen and Topi Anttila, who have had a strong offseason and are poised to push for playing time. With such a talented and deep unit, up to six players from this offensive line could be seen on the Finnish National team roster in 2023.
OL: Samuli Vehkomäki
The Roosters appear to have a stacked running back group for the upcoming season. Lassi Pajarinen and Henri Kaasinen, who both had solid performances last year, are entering their second season with the team. Aatu Mikkonen, the team’s leading rusher before suffering a knee injury, is also set to return. The group is further strengthened with the addition of two veterans, Yusufa Lehtinen and Ville Hämäläinen, who are joining the team from the Kotka Eagles. With a large but also versatile group, it will be interesting to see if one of those players will establish himself as a bell cow or if we will see a snap share among several players.
RB: Ville Hämäläinen
The receiving group has undergone a significant transformation during the offseason, emerging as one of the most improved units on the team. The signing of former McGill receiver Pearce Dumay, a former teammate of newly-acquired quarterback Dimitrios Sinodinos and a CFL prospect, has added a new dimension of explosiveness to the unit. In addition to Dumay, the Roosters have also added Joni Kotro, a tight end from Pori, who adds physicality and size, as well as Santeri Juvonen, who transferred from the Kuopio Steelers.
From last year’s players, Johannes Jauhiainen, the most experienced member of the group, has re-signed with the team, providing valuable leadership and guidance to the younger players. Entering his second year, 18-year-old Saggy Omer has emerged as the most improved player over the offseason, showcasing his speed and agility in the team’s training camps in March and April. The team’s leading receiver from last year Tarmo Pitkänen and speedster Willem Kajander, a track-and-field athlete, will also be reliable targets for Sinodinos. There has also been a lot of buzz around young Santtu Vehkomäki (brother of Samuli Vehkomäki), who has drawn interest from several college teams and is set to have his breakout season in 2023. Andrej Solovian gained valuable game experience last year and is eager to earn more playing time. Eemeli Tuovinen has also made the switch from cornerback to receiver, hoping to make a difference on the other side of the ball.
WR: Saggy Omer
The Helsinki Roosters will rely heavily on their experienced offensive line and talented running backs to dominate the ground game. With the addition of speed to the receiving corps, it will be interesting to see how second-year OC Daniel Stanzel utilizes this new dimension. The Roosters offense has the potential to be a formidable force in the league this season, with a solid foundation and exciting possibilities.