Graphic: Igor Lazarevic
After going undefeated in their fourth season in the German Football League, the Potsdam Royals have reached their first ever German Bowl.
They made it here thanks in large part to a high octane offense that rolled over much of the competition in the GFL North.
Their ground game has been one of the best in the league. They rushed for a league high 2,539 yards and 45 touchdowns, averaging 211.6 yards a game and 6.4 yards per carry.
However, if you are a long time follower of Finnish football, Potsdam’s success in the run game should come as no surprise. Leading the charge for the Royals has been former Helsinki Rooster running back Karri Pajarainen.
For the last decade, Pajarainen has been a part of the Roosters‘ organization and has been one of their most accomplished players. When he was promoted to the Roosters Maple League team in 2016 from the youth squads, he helped the Roosters win four straight championships from 2016 to 2019.
This season, he made the choice to sign in the GFL with the Royals just before their third game of the season. By the end of the season, he was their best backfield weapon, finishing the season with 1,221 rushing yards on 179 carries and 15 touchdowns, averaging 122.1 yards per game and 6.8 yards per carry.
Pajarinen took the time during his team’s bye week in preparation for the German Bowl, to talk about his time in Germany, his preparation for the championship and what the near future could hold for his playing career.
AFI: How did you end up on the Royals?
Pajarinen: I was looking to play in a more competitive league and was lucky to be contacted by the team.
AFI: Before the season started, did you think this was a team that was capable of making a championship run?
Pajarinen: Yes. Right from the first day it was clear that we were in it for it all. During the first weeks of being together, we sat down as a team to define our goals and the values that are going to take us there.
AFI: What was it like to go undefeated in the regular season?
Pajarinen: For the organization it’s obviously a historical milestone and will be remembered always, but for us players and coaches it has just been about taking it one game at a time and trying to be 1-0 every week.
AFI: What do you think of the Unicorns top ranked defense and what do you feel is their strongest asset?
Pajarinen: They are a well coached unit with little to no weaknesses. Their elite coaching and veteran leadership on the field is what helped separate them from other defenses this year. A formidable challenge for sure.
AFI: Do you see yourself with the Royals next year?
Pajarinen: We’ll see what the future holds. Right now, my and the whole team’s focus is on October 8th.