Author Archives: AFLFanZone

Battle of the Beltway

by Bee Jay Glosson

Here we are, two-thirds of the season in the books and the battle for second place in the league gives us two familiar teams battling it out. The Brigade and Valor are owned by the same group and might as well be brothers in the grand scheme of things. They certainly act like it when they play each other with lots of back and forth banter and some of the most aggressive play from both. Some say they are rivals because of proximity as Baltimore is only an hours ride from D.C., others because they have played each other more than any other teams in the league. The players see themselves as rivals just as much as anyone and it shows on the field.

When you play your brother in anything you never want to lose, ever, so when you do lose, you know there will always be sour grapes in the bunch about it. This game would be no different except this time the game winning touchdown would come in a very different type of way. As I said earlier, these two teams know each other very well, so there are no niceties and well wishes, there are just hard hits and trash talking immediately.

Starting the game off the Brigade would defer and give the Valor the ball first, and in return the Valor would show them what that would cost them. Arvell Nelson would help drive his team down the field and then find “Big Play” Reggie Gray for a TD halfway through the first quarter. The Brigade would not go quietly into the night however, as Joe Hills would break his own record and extend his 100 game streak with a touchdown to 101 to bring them even at the end of the quarter.

Back and forth they would go til the end as the the proverbial brothers would move to beat the other. With 2 TD’s on the ground by Nelson for the Valor and another TD for Hills and a kickoff return by Joe Powell for the Brigade we would see this game go into the half tied at 21.

Pulling even at the half would not be as simple as scoring a touchdown though as the Valor had the last possession of the half and would make it a memorable one. With just over a minute left the Valor would score, or would they? A defensive penalty on the scoring play would allow the Valor to take their own points off the board in exchange for a new set of downs. Take points off the board? No way, never, nope, not gonna do it, but they did. With the crazy move though, the Valor would take the clock to 0 and score before the half to tie the game not allowing the Brigade a chance to hurt them again.

The second half would be the same as the first really, back and forth and then a crazy play to end it. With another 2 touchdowns on the ground for Nelson and the Valor, combined with 2 touchdown passes by Shane Boyd and the Brigade, we would find ourselves tied at 35 with less than 5 minutes to go in the game. Tie you say? No brotherly affair can be tied at the end and this one would not be any different.

With under 30 seconds left to go in the game, the Valor would go for a potential game winning field goal. Valor fans at this point are holding their breath and crossing fingers, toes and anything else they can find to make this kick go through the uprights. With kicking woes all year long, it was not a position anyone wanted to be in. Then it happened, the greatest missed kick of all time.

Pat Clarke III after the game would say, “We set up too close to the line, that’s on me, but we practice for things like this.” The kick was up, and wide left, but in all things arena, the ball would bounce off the bar, land in between 4 Brigade players, bouncing off one’s back and then into the hands of Josh Reese who would take it into the endzone for a Valor touchdown with less than 15 seconds to go left on the clock.

The Valor score on one of the most improbable plays to go up 42 to 35, but again arena knows no safeguards as 1 second on the clock is enough to win a game. The Brigade would get a final shot at it, literally as a defensive penalty would give them one untimed play, with no time on the clock to try and tie. That effort would fall short however and the Valor would hold on to win.

The Valor find themselves at 5-4, tied for second place in the league, heading into the final 3 games of the season. Atlantic City is in town this week with QB Warren Smith Jr and former OC Shane Stafford, who were both on the Valor staff last year during their championship run. Every game matters from here on and with Atlantic City on the outside of the playoff race looking in, expect a knock down, drag out game at home next week. As always, be loud, be proud and go Valor.

BattleStations Episode 18: One Game Seasons

Frank talks to Coach Sauk and previews the game against the Soul with AFLFanZone.com‘s David Taylor

BattleStations: a Columbus Destroyers podcast in conjunction with AFL Fan Zone. 
Follow Frank Walker on Twitter at @BStationPod and at https://battlestations.pinecast.co

Stat Pack Attack Week 8: The Empire Strikes Back

by David Taylor

Football is a game where you have to have a short memory. If you dwell too much on past mistakes, (a loss, an interception, a dropped pass), or get too comfortable during a win streak, teams can get stuck in a hole they can’t crawl out of.

The Albany Empire looked like they were in too deep after the first 33:32 of their game against the Washington Valor. The Valor had a chance to break the game, and the league, wide open, before back to back fumbles lead to the lead being cut to just six points headed to the fourth.

With the ball on the Empire four yard line, and a one possession lead, the Valor chose not to go for the field goal and go for the touchdown, leading to an interception and giving Tommy Grady and Albany the ball back with 1:04 left.

The Empire would score with 12 seconds left, thanks to an amazing pass from Grady to Quentin Sims on fourth down. An Empire pick would end the game, and give Albany the 56-55 win.

Albany scored 42 points in the second half, the most since July 7, 2018 when the Philadelphia Soul scored 43 points in a 71-57 loss to, strangely enough, the Albany Empire.

Unfortunately for the Valor, they go down in the record books as the team who blew the third largest lead in AFL history, as they lead by 27 points at one point in the game. The largest blown deficit was when the Pittsburgh Power overcame a 31 point deficit to knock of the Orlando Predators in 2012.††

With the win, Albany becomes the first team to clinch one of the four AFL playoff spots. The Baltimore Brigade sit two games back in second and are the AFL’s hottest team after two huge wins over Albany and Columbus. The Valor and Soul are currently just a game back, both 4-4, while Atlantic City is just one spot out of the playoffs at 3-5. Columbus sits in last place at 1-7 but with four games left in the regular season, the Destroyers still have an outside chance

Standings (As of June 16, 2019)

Team                                     Record
Albany Empire                        7-1
Baltimore Brigade                   5-3
Washington Valor                    4-4
Philadelphia Soul                     4-4
————————————————-
Atlantic City Blackjacks           3-5
Columbus Destroyers             1-7

Bold = Clinched Playoff Berth

Week Eight Results:
Baltimore 44 Columbus 39
Albany 56 Washington 55
Philadelphia 54 Atlantic City 29

Joe Hills Makes History

In what would’ve been the lead story this weekend in the AFL if it wasn’t for the Empire’s epic come back, Joe Hills made not just AFL history, but football history.

With 3:23 left in the first quarter in Columbus, Hills caught an 11 yard pass from Shane Boyd, giving him his 100th straight game with a touchdown reception.

Hills had already broken the league record when he played for the Tampa Bay Storm, catching a pass in his 79th straight game in 2017 against, oddly enough, the Baltimore Brigade.

To truly appreciate Hills record, the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown reception is 13 by hall of famer Jerry Rice.

Joe Hills doesn’t look to be done this season. He’s tied for third in the AFL with 17 touchdown receptions, and now ranks eighth all time with 276 receiving touchdowns.

League Lookback: The Largest Come Back In AFL History

On April 14, 2012, the Pittsburgh Power took on the Orlando Predators in an early season clash. The Predators were sitting at 0-4, looking for their first win.

And for 38:25 of game time, it looked like they would, as the Preds would pull away for a 48-17 lead.

The Power would go on a 34-3 run, including a touchdown catch by Randy Hymes with 37 seconds left to tied the game at 51.

In overtime, Orlando would get another field goal, but Christian Wise would catch his only pass of the game, a 19 yard reception for the game winning touchdown for the Pittsburgh Power in the largest come from behind win in AFL history.

The loss would give the Predators their first ever 0-5 start in team history. Orlando would finish 4-14, while Pittsburgh would finish 5-13 with two wins over the Predators.

Game of the Week: Baltimore at Washington

I’m going to bookend this week’s Stat Pack with how I started, you have to have a short memory in football.

Washington will need a short memory to rebound this week after such a heartbreaking loss. Baltimore will need a short memory to continue their winning streak.

The key payer this week is the Valor QB Arvell Nelson. Nelson went 23-for-34 with 262 yards and six touchdowns but threw two interceptions in the last two minutes of the game.

He’ll be facing a tough Brigade defense that tallied four sacks last week against Columbus. Darryl-Cato Bishop has made a case for Defensive Player of the Year this season, as the former NC State Wolfpack defender has four sacks, four and a half tackles for loss and has forced two fumbles.

Dezmon Epps will need to be a factor as he had four receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown last week.

This Week’s Games

June 20, 2019
Baltimore Brigade (5-3) @ Washington Valor (4-4) — 7:00 PM

June 22, 2019
Atlantic City BlackJacks (3-5) @ Albany Empire (7-1) — 3:30 PM
Philadelphia Soul (4-4) @ Columbus Destroyers (1-7) — 7:00 PM