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|2nd Division East
Bærum Blue Devils
OSI Vikings 2
The Ruins has been a slowly progressing team. Each year they seem to get better, and this year will certainly be no exception. A strong junior program, a seemingly solid coaching staff, firm and consistent management; the Ruins are starting to reap the benefits of their hard work. The foundation is there, the market is there, the players are there. Now bring on the opposition.
Anders Johnsen was a positive surprise during the junior season. He will probably be filling in here, and is a future star if he continues developing. The starter will presumably be American import Don Jess. Jess is also the Head Coach. Although unknown to the Norwegian league, he could be the little extra Hamar needs to win close games. The joker is Jon Arne Bakkane, who started the previous two seasons. But he hasn't been to too many practises this preseason, and that does not benefit his cause.
The Ruins are high on Børge Herefoss, a speedy HB-type. He has finally found the time for good practise habits, and is a surefire starter. The Fullback will be Magne Tvinnerheim, who is entering his second season. Tvinnerheim has size and reportedly has improved his blocking. The perhaps most impressive product of the club, Bjørn Olav Slåttlandet (18), is reckoned as the best junior RB in Norway. But his importance on defense for the Ruins means less time running with the ball. Others who will figure in the picture is Vegard Kokslien, Anders Knutsen and the top scorer last year: Christoffer Castberg. Castberg is currently in the army.
The 1996 team MVP, Kjetil Sveen, is a receiver the Ruins have faith in. With more speed he could be awesome. Don Jess played receiver in his college days, and if Johnsen develops dramatically, Jess may be found at wideout. Erik Røjd and Marius Hansen are youngsters with a lot of potential, especially Hansen who is only 16. Another army joker is Thomas Hoelseth, who together with Christoffer Castberg at RB have been a dominating force for the Ruins the last three years.
Once a trouble spot for the Ruins, this area looks solid in 1999. Fredrik Aarnes has routine at center even though he is only 19 years old. He was a national junior team player under Dr.Bob O'Connor in 96/97. He weighs in at 120 kgs (264 pounds) and has strength to go with that. Guards will presumably be Joachim Ekeberg, who has good speed for 110 kgs, and Lars Erik Nordrum who is back from injury. Another alternative at guard is Kristian Møller Johansen, a 16 year old who weighs in at 120 kg. At the tackles there is fierce competition for the starting spots. Jo Kenneth Torve is solid, but doesn't see enough practise time. Erik Fjellum is an experienced player at age 25 who knows his job. Krister Skogen and Lars Erland Nogva are juniors who are giving their best shots to be starters.
Anders Knutsen is a maniac with stamina, speed and toughness. He leads this unit. Gard Engebretsen knows the game well and could fit in nicely on the D-line. The other starters will be found among the trio of Jon Arne Bakkane, Andreas Meyer and Erik Røjd. Røjd has impressed in practise. Meyer is a junior with tremendous potential, in whom the Ruins put a lot of faith.
In this unit we find a former Trolls player, Morten Melby. Melby, who is also coaching, is 37 years old. But he can still turn it on. Another relatively experienced player is Erik Fjellum, who has started here since '96. Joachim Ekeberg and Jo Kenneth Torve are young and tough players whom the Ruins expect a lot from. But Torve misses a lot of practises due to work, which is a bummer. Ekeberg could shift to the D-line. He is speedy with size, a not-so-stupid combination.
Bjørn Olav Slåttlandet and Don Jess makes this unit reasonably strong. Slåttlandet isn't afraid of taking on any challenge and gets respect for his coverage and strong hitting ability. Don Jess comes from coaching DBs at the high school level, so he should know what he's doing here. Twenty-year old Bjørnar Liodden is the fastest player of the team and Gard Engebretsen will join these three if he doesn't play on the d-line. Engebretsen is athletic and reads the game well, both valued abilities in the secondary.
This area has never been a priority with the Ruins, and still isn't. On coverage, Hamar feel secure once Jo Kenneth Torve and Joachim Ekeberg are on the field. Both are strong tacklers who make most of the special teams tackles. Anders Knutsen and Børge Herefoss are decent returners whom the Ruins trust. Joachim Ekeberg handles the kicking duties.
Two coaches are currently coaching the Hamar side; Morten Melby is a player/coach,while Allan Jørstad will be helping out from the sidelines. Both are knowledgeable and considered good teachers. Jørstad has 4 years of experience coaching. He has also coached with the national junior team. Melby has coached for 2 years, and brings valuable experience after spending some seasons with the Trolls. The Head Coach will be Don Jess, a young American who will also play. The coaching staff looks better than ever.
The addition of Don Jess, the development of players from the junior program, the consistent management; the arrow is pointing upwards for this team. They are without a doubt the favorites for the 2nd division East title, but the dream of 1st division play is still two-three years down the road.
Team overall: C
*= Preseason game.