#63 Center Nando Miranda wonders why the field today is nothing more than a soccer field with goal posts tied to the soccer goals.

#63 Center Nando Miranda wonders why the field today is nothing more than a soccer field with goal posts tied to the soccer goals. Photo courtesy of Jarkko Ylinen.

 

Helsinki Wolverines vs. Tampere Saints

Date: Saturday, July 22nd, 2000

Kickoff: 1400H

Location: Tali Field, Helsinki, Finland. (a 20 minute car ride from Töölö)

Weather: Overcast. Drizzle. Mid 70sF/22C+

Field Conditions: Mostly natural lumpy grass, yet muddy and slippery field due to all morning drizzle. Open field arranged into a 100 yd football field. Real uprights this time.

Uniforms: The Wolverines wore white jerseys, gold pants, blue helmets with Wolverine wings & stripes.

The Saints had had royal blue jerseys, white pants and white helmets

Records: Wolverines 6-0 (#1 in South division), Tampere 4-2 (#2 in West division)

Highlights

First Quarter-

Wolverines got the ball first and ran down the field. Holes were made, yet our running backs had a tough time keeping themselves from slipping. Our QB today was the 2nd string high schooler that played at Clarkston High School Michigan last year, Our #1 QB wasn’t available today. Most of the passes had to go to the outside, because he couldn’t see the linebackers in the middle of the field. We scored first on a short run. XPA good.

Wolverines 7 – Saints 0

Our defense started off well, but by the end of the game they were blowing big plays. We were able to hold the Saints offense and they punted. Our second drive was a mirror of our first. We ran in the middle and to the outside with decent blocking from our O-line. We scored on a long run. XPA good.

Wolverines 14 – Saints 0

2nd Quarter-

The Saints began passing more seeing that our defense was able to stop the run at this time. They began a long drive that ended with their first TD. XPA good.

Wolverines 14 – Saints 7

Our next drive was stalled very quickly. The Saints were playing tough D and we lost a few chances to make the next first down. Our passing game wasn’t really there.

The Saints then drove again. With our defense having little rest, they were able to pass and run in combination for their second score. XPA no good.

Wolverines 14 – Saints 13

The Wolverines countered with a nice drive of our own that stemmed from a nice kickoff return. It was apparent at this time that tempers were heating up. Both teams were talking trash, pushing and ready for a fight. I maintained my cool and didn’t listen to what the unholy Saints was saying. The Saints were trying to get into our heads. I told the guys in the huddle that we should forget about them and play our game. We topped of our drive on a reception for a TD. (But I don’t quite remember. I was playing both Defense and Offense by this time due to lack of D Line depth). XPA good.

Wolverines 21 – Saints 13

The Saints didn’t back down. Their offense was able to move the ball quite well before the half. And they scored again. It was clear that today was going to be an offensive battle because both defenses were not up to par. The slick field made movement quite difficult.

Halftime Score: Wolverines 21 – Saints 20

3rd Quarter-

The Wolverines kicked the ball off to the Saints. The end of the first half’s momentum continued for the Saints. They drove down the field in a long drive and capped it off with a TD and the lead. 2 pt. conversion good.

Wolverines 21 – Saints 28

Our offense wasn’t going to take any of this so we marched on the field and ran during most of the drive. The Saints defense was playing a lot tougher yet we were able to make some holes up front. We scored but fell short on the 2 pt. conversion.

Wolverines 27 – Saints 28

4th Quarter-

The final quarter of the game was a complete daze to me. The game seemed to last forever. I believe I was on the field for this quarter for 10 of the quarter’s 12 minutes. Good thing it wasn’t a hot day. Our defense stopped the Saints in a great show of physical play. Our offense stepped up once again and scored. Our 2 pt. conversion was good.

Wolverines 35 – Saints 28

This next drive for the Saints proved to be the toughest yet. They inched their way downfield and made it to our 5 yard line. This is when the Wolverines played strong and had a terrific goal line stand. I had a solo tackle on the RB behind the line that contributed to the Saints falling short. Their 4th down pass was incomplete. The Wolverines took over on offense at our own 5 yard line. This is when I told the guys in the huddle “alright guys, let’s march down the field and score again, no mistakes guys, no mistakes”. Maybe I cursed the team right then and there because on our first play our running back ran 3 yards and got hit by a bunch of Saints causing him to fumble. Of course, the Saints recovered and our defense had to come back on the field. I didn’t want to get off. I wanted to stay on the field and stop the Saints again. It only took 3 running tries for the Saints to find the endzone. The 2 pt. conversion attempt was short. The Wolverines defense took a sigh of brief relief. The Saints scored, but they weren’t ahead.

Wolverines 35 – Saints 34

The Wolverines offense got the ball and we all knew we had to hold onto it to keep the lead or better yet, do our best to score again. We marched down the field to the Saints 30 yard line. And we got stuffed on a couple runs. An incomplete pass. And our pass on 4th down and 5 yards to go was incomplete as well. With 1 minute and 33 seconds remaining, our weary defense took the field once again.

The Saints mixed it up on their offense and ran up the middle a few times. Then they passed completions in our corners. They worked the clock well and struggled up to the Wolverines’ 20 yard line with 25 seconds left. Our defensive line including me was unable to put enough pressure on the Saints QB. And the long pass to the left corner of the end zone was good. XPA was blocked.

Wolverines 35 – Saints 40

Needless to say, 19 seconds wasn’t enough for the Wolverines to score a TD again.

Final: Wolverines 35 – Saints 40

Summary: In the toughest game to date, we lost as a team and hopefully learned our lesson. There were too many individuals on Saturday. Too many trashtalkers and too many finger pointers. The loss was quite an embarrassment, but the lesson is that it is good to be humbled now than during the playoffs. We began practices on Mondays with full pads to bring the toughness back. I had mentioned to our coaches that our practices seemed like too much fun last week. We shouldn’t have taken the Saints lightly. Right now we are still vying for the top seed in the playoffs. We have 6 wins 1 loss and are still #1 in our division. However, the Varkaus team in the east division are 7-1 and both the Vaasa Vikings and Tampere Saints are 5-2 in the west division.

Thus far I have 8 solo tackles and 5 assists while playing left defensive tackle. It’s a lot of fun to play D, but it is tiring as heck when I have to stay on the field for an offensive series. I hope we have more defensive players for this weekend. We play the 3 teams in our division that we’ve already defeated. Sipoo Bulldogs, Helsinki 69ers and the Lohja Lions. But we can’t become complacent. Nor can we think that they will be easy games. We have to score as much as we can and build our confidence up for the playoffs.

That’s all for now. Until next week.

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