By Richard Martin
If you’ve been watching Arena Football for awhile, you understand that there have been plenty of high scoring games in the league’s history. Last week, I talked about the highest scoring game in AFL history, the bounty for video still holds strong by the way, and the Albany Empire and Atlantic City Blackjacks combined for 124 points.
This week, the Blackjacks continued their strong offensive output, dropping 70 points in the nation’s capital in a strong 70-21 win over the Washington Valor.
The last time an Arena Football team scored at least 60 points in back to back weeks was in 2017, when the Philadelphia Soul defeated the Cleveland Gladiators 69-67 on May 6 and then beat the Baltimore Brigade 61-56 on May 13.
The main reason for the fireworks in Atlantic City can be attributed to a Quarterback change. Randy Hippeard, a star AFL QB, had not quite performed up to his potential this season, with 1602 yards, 29 touchdowns and five interceptions so far. While this sounds, and still is, very impressive, Hippeard tossed 61 touchdowns last season in Baltimore.
Insert Warren Smith. Smith was on the Washington Valor’s roster for the past two seasons after playing for the Spokane Shock in 2015. He was mostly used as a backup, but still had a combined 15 touchdowns and 677 yards in two seasons.
After a rough week eight relief effort against Philadelphia, going 16-for-31 for 150 yards, two touchdowns and a pick, Smith has impressed the past two weeks going a combined 46-for-62, with 538 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one interception.
Warren Smith has brought some excitement into the AC, but more importantly, he’s gotten the Blackjacks back into playoff contention. With just two games left, the Blackjacks could shock the league and make a deep run in their first season.
Soul Train Comin’ Through
The Philadelphia Soul have been a stalwart in the Arena Football League for the past 10 seasons. With their 54-43 win over the first place Empire, the Soul clinched the playoffs for the eighth straight season, and now have an outside shot at first place.
Washington needs just one win to clinch a playoff bid, while Atlantic City and Baltimore are battling for the last spot. You can read more in David Taylor’s Playoff Scenarios.
Standings (As of June 29, 2019)
Albany Empire 8-2
Philadelphia Soul 6-4
Baltimore Brigade 6-4
Washington Valor 5-5
Atlantic City BlackJacks 4-6
Z – Columbus Destroyers 1-9
Clinched Playoff Berth
Z = Eliminated from Playoff Contention
Week 10 Results:
Baltimore 50 Columbus 12
Philadelphia 54 Albany 43
Atlantic City 70 Washington 41
Can’t Sink This Battleship
It’s been a rough season for the Columbus Destroyers, especially for their offense.
The Destroyers rank last in the AFL in touchdowns, points, and have scored just 32 points per game, currently 15th worst all time in Arena Football League history.
Quarterback play has struggled as well, with Columbus ranking last in passing yards , passing touchdowns and have thrown the most picks, 16, and have been sacked the most, 25 times.
This week was another tough week for the Destroyers offense, as they would trail 21-12 at halftime in Baltimore. The offense wouldn’t score again, falling to the Brigade 50-12.
The funny thing is, Columbus finished with more yards of offense than Baltimore, with 200 compared to just 145 for the Brigade. However, the swarming Baltimore defense forced six turnovers, returning a fumble and an interception for a touchdown, and a safety. The Brigade also had four sacks and on special teams, Joe Powell returned a kickoff 57 yards to the house.
The 12 points scored by Columbus is the 8th least amount of points scored by an away team in AFL history.
The Brigade defense now leads the AFL in forced and recovered fumbles, sacks and tackles for loss. They also rank second in interceptions. The Brigade still have some work to get into the playoffs, but this defense could help them make a run to the ArenaBowl.
League Lookback: The Lone Shutout in AFL History
Teams have done worse on offense than the Destroyers did this week.
The Denver Dynamite beat the Detroit Drive 15-14 in 1989. The Sacramento Attack lost 51-3 to the Charlotte Rage in 1992. Recently, in 2014, the New Orleans VooDoo lost 54-13 to the Jacksonville Sharks.
But only one team has been shut out in the entire history of the Arena Football League.
On June 13, 1992, the San Antonio Force fell to the Orlando Predators 50-0 in Orlando, Florida. In an 2012 article by Richard Oliver on mysanantonio.com, David Caldwell, the first ever draft pick in San Antonio history, said that the Force had a “full-contact, two-hour practice a day before the game…got dressed, got on the plane and our legs were dead.
The team apparently left for Orlando at 4 am local time the day of the game, were stuck in Atlanta for a layover, and made it to the arena in time for a pregame meal. By the way, this was also an expansion team against a Predators squad that would go 9-1 and make the ArenaBowl.
The Predators would take a 33-0 lead at halftime and never look back.
The closest a team has been to being shut out in the modern area of Arena Football was in 2007 when the New York Dragons scored a touchdown with 11:38 left in the game to avoid a shut out in a 60-7 loss to the Dallas Desperados in Week One.
We’ll probably never see another shut out in AFL history, but it is interesting to look back at the lone shut out and how the game has changed.
Game of the Week: Philadelphia at Atlantic City
The Arena Football League must be going out of town for Independence Day, as there is just one game this week.
Philadelphia is set as they clinched their playoff spot with a huge win over Albany. Atlantic City has found themselves back in the playoff race with just two games left.
Dan Raudabaugh has gotten back in his groove, and Warren Smith has become an interesting story late in the season.
With the two cities just 61 miles away from each other, playoff spots on the line, and two phenomenal quarterbacks, the fireworks show could continue Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall.