Monthly Archives: October 2016

Tampa Bay Storm Name Ron James Head Coach

A few months after Lawrence Samuels parted ways with the Tampa Bay Storm, the Storm have found their seventh head coach in franchise history. Team President Derrick Brooks made the announcement that Ron James will take over the reins in Tampa.

“It gives me great pleasure to introduce Ron as our next head coach,” Brooks said, “Ron has over 30 years of coaching experience that he is bringing with him to Tampa Bay. After spending time with him throughout this vetting process, we believe he best exemplified what we want to do, and where we want to go, as a team.”

James spent the 2016 season as the head coach of the Portland Steel, who folded this offseason. James coached Portland to a 3-13 record last season before getting steamrolled by the Arizona Rattlers in the 84-40 in the National Conference Semifinals.

James brings 30 years of coaching experience to the Storm, and he spent eight of those years as a head coach. The 2012 AFL Coach of the Year has led his teams to three playoff appearances, which includes a trip to the National Conference Championship in 2012. “I am extremely humbled and excited to join one of the most storied franchises in the Arena Football League,” James said. “It’s a great feeling to be a part of a team that has such strong management and leadership. This is truly an honor and I want to thank Derrick Brooks, (owner) Jeff Vinik and the entire Storm organization for giving me this opportunity to lead the team into the future.”

A native of Albany, New York, James played collegiate football at Siena for four seasons, where he was an All-American offensive lineman. James began his coaching career at Siena in 1986 as the team’s linebackers coach. Jones began his AFL career in 1990, when he was an assistant coach for the Albany Firebirds for two seasons. James would return to college football after spending time with Albany.

After brief stops at Hartwick College and Kentucky Wesleyan, James would coach the offensive line at Army for two seasons. James would return to the AFL in 1999 when he coached the offensive and defensive line for the Houston ThunderBears. He would then become the assistant head coach for the Las Vegas Gladiators in 2002, before taking over as the head coach in 2005. James then took over as the head coach of the Utah Blaze in 2010, leading them to a 30-33 record over four seasons. James became the head coach of the Pittsburgh Power in 2014, and he led them to a 15-2 record. Known for his defense, Pittsburgh led the league in interceptions (36), and they were second in scoring defense (43.2), while finishing third in total defense (256.0). James will look to improve a Storm team that went 2-14 last year.

CAFL Super Series IV Recap

Super Series IV was the most upset-filled slate of week of football this season has seen yet. This week saw the China Bowl matchup set, thanks to a couple surprising Qingdao and Guangzhou wins.

Beijing Lions 70, Dalian Dragon Kings 25:

The most surprising part of this game was that Dalian actually lead during the game. At the end of the first quarter, the Dragon Kings (0-4) led 13-7. From there, like everyone expected, it was all Beijing (4-0).

When trailing 19-14, Beijing went on to score 55 straight points, and ultimately never looked back getting the huge 45 point win and capturing the much deserved No. 1 seed in the China Bowl on Nov. 6 in Shanghai.

The Lions were led by the dynamic duo of Luke Collis and Collin Taylor who hooked up for two touchdowns and 56 yards. Taylor said on the This Week in AFL podcast he planned on Beijing scoring a lot of touchdowns, and he was absolutely right. The Lions put up 70, setting a new CAFL record. They also set a record for largest margin of victory, with the 45 point drubbing.

Dalian’s struggles continue as the offense can not keep up with anyone else in the league. The Dragon Kings have only scored 77 points across their four games, averaging 19 points per game. In an arena football league 19 points is unacceptable, and it looks likely that Dalian will finish the season without a win.

Qingdao Clipper 51, Shanghai Skywalkers 49:

This was the most anticipated game of the week heading in and it delivered, becoming one of the most tightly contested this season, challenging for the “game of the season” title.

This entire game was back and forth until Shanghai (2-2) took a 35-20 lead to start the second half, but Clipper (3-1) quarterback Bryan Randall scrambled into the endzone from thirteen yards out.

Three plays later, the turnover bug caught Shane Austin again as Rayshaun Kizer picked him off. Randall ran the ball into the endzone again and all of the sudden that two possession lead evaporated.

The two teams traded scores until Shanghai held a 49-48 lead. Shanghai’s drive stalled late in the game and Qingdao got the ball back with a chance to score and win the game. The Clipper got inside the 10 yard line but a couple incompletions later it was fourth and goal.

Instead of sending out the offense to try and power the ball in, head coach Rod Miller sent out the kicking team to attempt to make the first ever field goal in CAFL history. From 21 yards Qingdao kicker Chao Ran Li put it through the uprights, as time expired to win the game for the Clipper.
Since the Power beat the Naja on Sunday, the Clipper will face off against the Beijing Lions in the first ever China Bowl on Nov. 6. Shanghai has to be the disappointment of the season. They looked to be the strongest team in the league, but will miss the championship.

Guangzhou Power 47, Shenzhen Naja 39:

In perhaps the most shocking game of the week, the Power (2-2) got the eight point win over the Naja (1-3) in the Super Series finale on Sunday, in front of the Guangzhou faithful.

The game was pretty closely contested until the Power jumped out to a 26-7 advantage. The two sides traded scores until the score read 40-21 at the end of the third quarter. To kickstart the fourth Dak Britt found Xinhe Xu for a 12 yard score to pull within 13. The Naja then got a stop on defense thanks to the second Terrance Smith interception of the game, which led to more Naja points, only trailing by a possession.

The ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Naja and a play later Shenzhen scored on a 42 yard pass from Britt to Sze Ting Liu to bring the score to 40-39 Power, with little time left. Shenzhen had to go for the onside one last time, this time however, the Power recovered, and scored one last insurance touchdown to put the icing on the cake, for the 47-39 victory.

The Power played spoilers this week, had Shenzhen won, it would have created a scenario where three teams could have been the No. 2 seed. But because they won the entire playoffs are now set in stone. The Beijing Lions will face the Qingdao Clipper in the China Bowl.

The Shanghai Skywalkers will face off against the Guangzhou Power in the battle of the third and fourth seeds. Lastly, the Shenzhen Naja face off against the Dalian Dragon Kings in the fifth vs. sixth seed matchup.

These games are all two weeks away, on Nov. 6, so with one more week of regular season play left it will be interesting to see how careful the top two seeds are with their starters.

CAFL Super Series III Recap

Super Series III was probably the least entertaining of the first three Super Series,’ but that didn’t mean there were some intriguing matchups heading into Super Series III. Hosted by the Qingdao Clipper at the Qingdao Sports Center, Super Series III provided a matchup of the two remaining undefeated teams in the league, which was the main event for fans in Qingdao.

Shenzhen Naja vs. Shanghai Skywalkers

In the first game of the weekend, these two squads were battling to stay legitimate contenders for the China Bowl. After handily defeating the Dalian Dragon Kings in Super Series I, Shenzhen dropped their second straight game on Saturday against the Skywalkers. Shanghai won their second straight game after losing to the Beijing Lions in Super Series I.

Quarterback Shane Austin threw four first half touchdowns for Shanghai. There was CAFL history in this contest, as LaChristopher Lee recorded the first ever kickoff return for a touchdown. Shaun Kauleinamoku caught four touchdowns, and Mike Washington caught three touchdowns for the Skywalkers.

Shanghai almost lost the ball twice on kickoffs. Dwayne Hollis touched the ball on a line drive, pinning the Skywalkers at the one yard line. Then, the ball hit the crossbar before going out of bounds.

Shenzhen quarterback Dak Britt rushed for two touchdowns, including the one that made it a one possession game late in the contest.

Shanghai would prevail, winning 61-48 to reaffirm their status as the “Super Skywalkers.” With a second loss, Shenzhen’s China Bowl hopes took a severe hit. They’ll play the Guangzhou Power, while Shanghai will battle the Qingdao Clipper.

Guangzhou Power vs. Dalian Dragon Kings

The Power played well in Super Series I and Super Series II, but they didn’t finish games strong, which resulted in two losses. Dalian was overmatched in their first two games, especially in the second half. In this contest, they were overmatched for the entire game.
Guangzhou annihilated Dalian, 40-7, which kept the Power’s China Bowl chances alive.

When star receiver Joe Hills chose not to play for Dalian, everyone knew their production would suffer, but not this much.

Guangzhou jumped out to a 27-0 lead, and Dalian was finally able to score after a Maurice Woodard touchdown at the end of the half. Dalian failed to move the ball down the field, which is why they only scored seven points in what was a 40-7 rout. As expected, Dalian’s hope of a China Bowl are out of reach, while Guangzhou will play Shenzhen in a game where both teams try to keep their seasons alive.

Qingdao Clipper vs. Beijing Lions

This game was the main event of Super Series III, and it failed to live up to its billing. In the battled of undefeated teams, Beijing showed who was the better team as they defeated the Clipper, 47-33.

Beijing led 14-0 after the first quarter. This quarter included two fumbles and a touchdown by defensive back James Romain. After two Clipper turnovers and two Collin Taylor touchdowns, Beijing led 35-13 at halftime. Beijing hasn’t lost one game, but they’ve had a problem sustaining leads, especially ones in the second half.

They had the problem again in this game, but it didn’t affect them a whole lot. Qingdao would come close to coming back, but Beijing wound up winning 47-33, making them the lone undefeated team in the CAFL. Beijing proved that they are the best team in the league once again on Sunday. They played a full 60 minute game for the most part, and they dominated the Clipper defense. Only time will tell if this team will win the China Bowl.

CAFL Super Series II Recap

Neither of the two Super Series have disappointed, as this past weekend’s slate of games were filled with a pair of nail biting matchups, between teams trying to get their first win and teams scratching and crawling their way to stay undefeated in the early stage of the season.

Shanghai Skywalkers 45, Guangzhou Power 32

In the first game of the weekend we saw two teams who lost by a combined four points in Super Series I face off and try to get their first win of the season.

Shanghai, led by Shane Austin at quarterback, scored on their first possession but after that, Cameron McGlenn and the rest of the Power defense came up big in the first half, intercepting Austin twice and turned those extra two possessions into points scoring both times taking a 26-19 lead into the half.

In the second half, Shanghai looked like the team that everyone expected them to be and they dominated the rest of the game. The Skywalkers only gave up six points the entire second half, and poured on the scoring, eventually taking a 37-32 lead.

For the second week in a row the Power offense had opportunities to score and try to get back into the game late, but a few turnovers prevented them from doing so. A Dashawn Johnson fumble and a J.J. Raterink interception gave Shanghai all the power needed to seal the victory for them 45-32.

Next week in Super Series III Shanghai will meet the very talented Shenzhen Naja and Guangzhou will be looking to get their first win against the Dalian Dragon Kings.

Beijing Lions 48, Shenzhen Naja 41

For the second week in a row the Beijing Lions played in the game of the week, this time squeezing out a tight 48-41 victory over the Shenzhen Naja.

The first ever matchup between two unbeatens saw a back and forth first half ensue but three Naja turnovers, thanks to a James Romain interception and fumble recovery and a Torrez Jones pick, saw the Lions take a 28-15 into the break.

However coming straight out of the break Shenzhen picked a Luke Collis pass off and a few plays later Dak Britt ran the ball in cutting the lead to seven. The two teams would trade a couple scores and took a 41-28 lead into the final quarter.

For the second week in a row, Beijing struggled to close out a game as they turned the ball over on downs after a Naja touchdown with only a couple minutes left to play in the game. Seven plays later Shenzhen knotted the game up at 41 after a Britt pass to Shida Wang on fourth down with only 1:55 left to go.

On the ensuing drive the Lions only needed four plays for Collis to find Erwin Sennett Wu for 23 yards and the game winning touchdown.

Beijing escaped for the second week in a row after giving up a lead late in the game and go on to play another undefeated, the Qingdao Clipper. On the other hand Shenzhen will have their hands full with the Shanghai Skywalkers in Super Series III.

Qingdao Clipper 43, Dalian Dragon Kings 26

Qingdao proved on Sunday why they might have the best defense in the entire CAFL, holding Dalian to only 26 points and only giving up 61 total combined points through two weeks of play. On the flip side of that coin Dalian’s offense continues to struggle only scoring 45 points through two weeks of play in two losing efforts.

However for the greater part of the game, these two were locked in a back and forth battle. Perhaps the most dangerous duo in the CAFL, Bryan Randall and Reggie Gray connected for a score taking a 21-12 Clipper lead into the half.

In the third quarter, Talib Wise led the charge in bringing the Dragon Kings back into the game, only trailing by eight at the end of the third quarter, 34-26.

However, Dalian would not see their endzone for the rest of the game. In fact, the only time Dalian saw an endzone in the fourth quarter was when they gave up a safety giving Qingdao a 10 point lead and the ball back. The Clipper held on for a 43-26 win over the Dragon Kings.

Next week Dalian faces off against another winless team, the Guangzhou Power and the Qingdao Clipper host the Beijing Lions at the Qingdao Sports Center in front of the hometown crowd.

CAFL Super Series I Recap

What a weekend of football the 11,500 Chinese got to watch at the LeSports Center in Beijing. The day started with an extremely close contest and ended with an absolute thriller, it is safe to say the first week of Chinese Arena Football can be marked down as a success.

Guangzhou Power vs. Qingdao Clipper:
In the first ever CAFL game the Power and the Clipper were the perfect opener for a wild day of football, this game was close all the way through, with both teams trading scores going back and forth, in the end the Clipper came out on top 38-35.

Clipper quarterback Bryan Randall connected with wide out Reggie Gray for the first ever receiving touchdown in the franchise’s history. The duo connected three more times for scores in the game showing they could be a very dangerous pairing for the rest of the season.

The fate of the game was sealed in the fourth quarter where the Power turned the ball over twice, one of which was an interception by Tanner Varner, the first interception marked down in league history. With 23 seconds left, a Power fumble was the final nail in the coffin, giving the Clipper the win.

Qingdao are looking to jump to (2-0) when they take on the Dalian Dragon Kings next week. Despite the loss, the Power played very well, but have to play even better to beat their next opponent, the Shanghai Skywalkers.

Shenzhen Naja vs. Dalian Dragon Kings:
The second game of the day saw the Naja take on Dragon Kings, and from the start it was apparent the Dragon Kings were missing their No. 1 draft pick, the Naja took this one 47-13.

The Naja ended the first half by scoring 13 points in a matter of 3 minutes to take a 22-7 lead into the half and never looked back from there. The second half saw the Dragon Kings turn the ball over three times, which turned into three Naja scores.

In a history making moment the Naja saw quarterback Tao Yu run in a touchdown becoming the first quarterback to do that in the league’s very brief history.

With only six points scored in the second half it is clear that the Dragon Kings offense is really missing Joe Hills. Hills was the team’s first round draft pick but decided not to make the trip out to China electing to stay home in the U.S.

Next week the Naja will be put to the test as they go up against the Beijing Lions. The Dragon Kings will be looking to turn things around in front of the home crowd at the Dalian Superdome when they take on Qingdao.

Beijing Lions vs. Shanghai Skywalkers:
In the first weekend of the season, football fans might have seen the game of the season. In an overtime thriller, the Beijing Lions held on to beat Shanghai 54-53.

For the entire game Beijing had the lead, the Lions played in front for the entire way. At the end of the first quarter, they had a 20-6 lead. Then at the half, the Lions led by eight taking a 27-19 lead into the break. Both teams scored once in the third to take a 34-26 game into the final quarter.

Then, at the death, down by eight points with just 16 seconds left on the clock, Skywalkers quarterback Shane Austin tucked the ball in and ran into the endzone, a two point conversion later and the two teams were tied 47-47 at the end of regulation. The two were heading into overtime, a rarity in the AFL, let alone the CAFL.

On the first possession of the overtime period the Lions drove down the field and scored on a Chris Dieker run, an extra point later Beijing reclaimed their lead, 54-47. On the ensuing drive Shanghai took the ball and scored themselves but Skywalkers coach Derek Stingley decided to go for the win and went for two again. This time, however, the Lions defense made the stop and won the game 54-53.

The Lions will face off against another 1-0 team in the Shenzhen Naja next week, and the Skywalkers are looking to get their first win of the season against the Guangzhou Power.

Overall, the first weekend went extremely well for the CAFL, the eyes of the world were watching and were impressed, now the question is, how does the league respond to a great first week of play?