Ready to rebuild ?
|2nd Division West
Sandnes Oilers have been around for 6 seasons, the last 5 in the top division. Last year was definitively the low point of the Oilers history. A lack of commitment has always been the main problem with this team. This along with big changes in personell does not spell success. This year however, the Oilers report a stricter line toward the players. Any veteran player that didn't report prior to March 1st wasn't admitted onto the team in 1999. Since last year quite a few former players are back. Cato Wallin (RB), Svein Martin Dahle (WR) and Steinar Eker (LB) are back from military service. Tom-Ingar Bjørndal (CB) and Mike Lemond (DE) are new this year, but will bring experience from top level Swedish football (Bjørndal) and the States. The team welcomes back Bjørn Burmeister (RB) and Stein N. Wisted (RB), both coming out of retirement. The team has lost both their quarterbacks from last year (Inge Bodsberg and Lars Dahle). The offensive coordinator (Jarle Magnus Henriksen) also left, and since joined the Vikings. There is only one player from last year (Raymond Rød) that has left for military service, but the team hopes he will see some action on the football field as well. Other players that the Oilers have lost will probably not hurt the team; they have been replaced. Even though the team dropped from the 1st division last year, it seems that the Oilers are serious about rebuilding the team, and quickly establish themselves in the 2nd division, aiming for the 2nd division championship this year. Their roster count 26 players as of February 1st.
This position has been totally revamped. Last years twosome of Bodsberg and Dahle is gone, and in comes veteran WR/RB/DB Kenneth Haugland and junior starter Henning Klungtveit. Haugland is expected to be the starter, with Klungtveit filling in from time to time, gaining experience. Haugland is a lethal scrambler, but not much of a pocket passer because of his size. He could have a tough time passing behind the line, but should excel when outside the pocket. Klungtveit is the exact opposite, although he looked fine when rolling out during the junior season. Expect him to get more playing time as the season wears on.
The Sandnes running game has to a great extent been Cato Wallin. Wallin is a hard-nosed fullback-type who doesn't slow down. He is a terrific blocker who enjoys running up the gut. Then there is Bjørn Burmeister, who hasn't played since the '96 season. He is dependable and knows the game. The capacity of former center Stein N. Wisted at running back is yet to be known, although he has decent speed in the open and like Burmeister brings knowledge of the game. The rookie Bengt Johansen has as far as we have heard shown good efforts at practice. The Oilers will probably switch these guys around to ensure freshness of the runningbacks.
This is the strength of the Oilers. Presumed starters Gunnar Bjorland, Svein Martin Dahle and Arild Bjørgo (TE) are as talented as any receiver-corps in the nation. Bjorland exploded during the '98 junior season, although it was his rookie season with the senior team that landed him a team MVP last year. However, Dahle is the man to watch here. He is as gifted as any wideout in this league, bar David Rødsand of the Vikings. Bjørgo was said to have poor hands, but proved that label wrong last year with a couple of strong performances. He is a big physical player who blocks well. Not much is known of the backups, but Joakim Rød (a rookie) has outstanding speed and decent hands. He will probably see a lot of action in this department.
C Lars Waalen anchors a line which has gained a lot of experience. Last year it featured two rookies in G Jørgen Olavesen and T Stian Breivik. Both are now a year wiser, and both impressed during the junior season, with Olavesen earning the junior team MVP. Breivik is expected to move to guard. T Jonny Solberg has been playing for the Oilers since the club first fielded a team. He is among the top offensive linemen in Norway. The last man on this line could be Kim Veland, who hasn't made much noise in his career.
DE Michael Lemond is new to this league and also to us. He brings experience from high school, but thats all we know. He could be a very solid combination with Reggie Thomas at the other end spot. Thomas is around 40 and has experienced injury problems. He spent his college days as a corner at Colorado. In the middle veteran Odd Kristian Nordnes will man one of the spots. If Sandnes chooses to play a 4-3 or 4-4 a couple of the O-linemen will presumably see some playing time on the D. There is rumours of yet another American, an exchange student. If he comes out, the Oilers will have to choose 2 of the three Americans they (could) have, as there can only be two on the roster.
Jon Jakobsen has experience, and should look forward to this season. The last time the Oilers played in the 2nd division ('93) he was a dominating force. He would still be dominating if his body stopped giving him trouble. Will Carver is decent when he doesn't have to play both ways. Øystein Petersen (a rookie) is an unknown capacity at this position. Raymond Rød is an extremely gifted athlete, but should be in the army for most of the season. He makes a lot of trouble as a pass-rusher.
The secondary could very well be the stronghold of
this defense. CB Tom-Ingar Bjørndal has his previous experience from the
Swedish top division, the "Superseries". He hasn't played for a while, but
should be a force.
Gunnar Bjorland's kicking abilities is the brightest spot in this department. Expect the Oilers to work some on the kicking game; they trust Bjorland. Other than that this area isn't much to cheer for unless you're a kick returner on the oppositie team. The Oilers are notorious in giving away easy TDs in this department. Henning Klungtveit will handle the punting, while Joakim Rød and his younger -but more experienced- brother Raymond Rød are intriguing return men.
The Oilers signed former offensive coordinator Ian Clayton in late February. Clayton is highly regarded by both players and management for his great teaching ability and sound playcalling. Coaching with Clayton will be two player-coaches; American Mike Lemond (LBs and D-line) and Tom-Ingar Bjørndal (DBs). What looked to be a weak spot until the Clayton signing, is suddenly a solid one.
The Oilers are happy with the way things are looking right now. The board has taken action, and they have players that seem dedicated. The coach they wanted is in place. Now the ladder-climbing can begin.
Team overall: C
*= Preseason game.