Category Archives: Columbus Destroyers

Stat Pack Attack: Dealer Dominate in Atlantic City

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)

Team                                     Record   
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.

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BattleStations Episode 19: Whatcha’ Doin’ This Weekend

A rambling episode this week that discusses the Destroyers, and the future expansion of the Arena Football League.

The articles discussed can be found at https://aflfanzone.com/.

If you have a chemical addiction and need help please call 1-800-729-6686

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

Deep Routes: A Weekly Dive Into the Statistics of the AFL

by Anthony Reinhard

Hi everyone! This will be my first weekly post where I’ll share some forecasts from my AFL Elo model and occasionally make a deep dive into some AFL data that I’ve collected.

Model Refresh

Albany was surprisingly upset last week on the road, but retains the top spot in my rankings. Philadelphia jumps to #2 after clinching a playoff spot. The Soul will try to keep their momentum flowing in the only game this week. They are a 4.5pt favorite over Atlantic City.

As far as the playoffs go, Baltimore is the only team that can clinch a playoff berth this week with an AC loss. A loss by the Blackjacks wouldn’t eliminate them, but my model has their odds dropping to around 1 in 400.

A Tale of Two Expansion Offenses

The Destroyers suffered a painful 38 point loss last Friday at Baltimore. This was the largest margin of victory since ArenaBowl XXX champ Philadelphia ran up a 70-21 win, also in Baltimore, during the 2017 season. Columbus scored twice in the second quarter, but was shutout in the second half. This was the first time a team has been held scoreless in a half this season and the 105th time in league history. The last instance came in Week 11 last year when the Valor failed to put up any second half points against the Soul.

It sadly gets worse for Columbus as they posted the 6th worst offensive performance since box scores became available in 2000. The Destroyers scored just 12 points on their 13 offensive possessions.

On the other side of the coin, Atlantic City had an offensive explosion in their win over Washington. They became the 15th team to post a 7.0 or better after scoring 63 offensive points on 9 drives behind new QB Warren Smith. In Week 3 of this year, Albany hung 50 offensive points on the Soul on only 7 possessions, the only team to exceed 7.0. Albany put their name on the list again two weeks ago.

Smith v. Hippeard

Warren Smith has now logged two successful starts as Blackjacks QB. Original starter Randy Hippeard has officially been “questionable” to play in both games since going down in Week 8 against Philadelphia. It seems to be an open question as to whether he will return and resume his duties as starter, but I thought it would be a good idea to compare where the players shake out by the numbers, both this year and last.

Hippeard played better last year and his larger sample size tends to give me more confidence he can deliver above-average production in the long-term. Smith’s solid play as of late should allow him to hold onto the job for the time being though.

Turnaround for the Blackjack Defense

Last week I tweeted that the Blackjacks would be in serious jeopardy if their defense did not pick up the slack after allowing a touchdown on 23 straight drives. My concerns were initially justified, as Washington scored on their first four drives on Saturday night. AC finally recorded a stop when they picked off an end-of-half Hail Mary from Arvell Nelson.

In the second half, a re-energized defense stopped the Valor on four of six drives to preserve a blowout 70-41 win. After the win, a certain Blackjack DB let me know that my doubt was misplaced.

Is the Commish Right?

That tweet from Northington wasn’t the only heat I caught on twitter last week. After expressing my disappointment to the AFL Tonight podcast team for not addressing a Columbus rumor during an interview with Commissioner Boe, I drew a reply a reply from the man himself. I was pleased with his answer, but I had another burning question from his interview.

Link to podcast —> http://www.arenafan.com/podcasts/randall_boe_interview.mp3

The podcast crew astutely inquired as to whether or not Commissioner Boe was concerned with the drop in scoring this season (about 1:20 to 4:05). The commish replied that the league’s focus moving forward was to shorten the real-time length of the game while still providing a high-octane product. Boe went on to assert that while points are down, points per minute of game time are up. I knew that possessions per game were down significantly so I thought I’d look into it.

My findings show that points per minute are actually down modestly this season. As Boe mentioned, he’s seen a substantial drop in game length. I personally am skeptical that making games shorter will drive engagement. I’m not sure that a two hour event is all that much more attractive than a three hour event in general.

Attendance has dropped again for the fourth straight year. The four non-expansion teams however have posted steady attendance numbers as a whole, so attendance is likely not a major concern moving toward next year.

The Race to Host ArenaBowl XXXII

Albany has not only been the best team since the start of the year, they’ve had huge lead in attendance and have clinched home field should they advance to the ArenaBowl. The next two spots have been locked in as well (to PHI and WAS, respectively), while AC has an 88% chance to host Baltimore in the unlikely event that the two meet in the ArenaBowl.

Odds of hosting ArenaBowl XXXIII:
Albany – 71.2%
Philly – 18.7%
DC – 9.8%
AC – 1 in 500
Baltimore – 1 in 3500

2019 AFL Playoff Scenarios, Version 2.0

Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Photo by D. Taylor

by: David Taylor

After week 10, there are as many questions as there are answers for the 2019 Arena Football League Playoffs. Teams faltered. One team punched its ticket to the postseason, and a dark horse is rising in Atlantic City. According to the official AFL tiebreaker procedures, here is an updated look at the AFL playoff picture: 

Albany Empire: (8-2) 

Playoffs: Clinched. After being upset in Philadelphia over the weekend, Albany still is in control of its own destiny. The Empire is only one win away from clinching the number one seed in the playoffs. Albany has a bye week this weekend, giving head coach Rob Keefe an extra week to prepare for the 1-9 Columbus Destroyers. 

Upcoming Games:
7/14 @ Columbus Destroyers
7/20 vs. Philadelphia Soul

Philadelphia Soul (6-4)

Playoffs: Clinched. The Soul rose to the challenge over the weekend, defeating Albany convincingly at the Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia suddenly has an outside shot at the number one seed in the playoffs. The Soul needs to win out and need for Albany to lose to Columbus to clinch the number one seed. 

Upcoming Games:
7/6 @ Atlantic City
7/20 @ Albany

Baltimore Brigade (6-4) 

Playoffs: Baltimore is so very close to the playoffs. An Atlantic City loss this weekend will put the Brigade in. However, Baltimore loses the tiebreaker to Atlantic in head-to-head, and loses the strength of schedule tiebreaker to Washington, so if the Brigade, Valor, and Blackjacks all end up with 6-6 records, Baltimore will be the odd team out.  With games against both Washington and Atlantic City coming up, Baltimore could end up as high as the two seed, or could find themselves out of the playoffs.

Upcoming Games: 
7/13 vs. Washington
7/21@ Atlantic City

Washington Valor (5-5)

Playoffs: Washington still needs just one win to get into the postseason. The loss to Atlantic City was an eye-opening one, as Arvell Nelson was picked off multiple times. The loss also gives Atlantic City the head to head advantage based on total points scored, but Washington holds the strength of schedule tiebreaker at the moment. Valor oponents are a combined 57-43, while Atlantic City opponents are 51-48. Adding in the records of opponents over the next two weeks, however, makes things very interesting. Washington and Atlantic City’s opponents (including the record of teams in the next two unplayed games) is identical, 64-56. 

Upcoming Games: 
7/13 @Baltimore
7/20 vs. Columbus

Atlantic City (4-6)

Playoffs: The Blackjacks put up huge numbers over the weekend, defeating Washington 70-41. Atlantic City can get into the playoffs in a few ways: One, win out. Finishing 6-6 and having Baltimore also finish 6-6 will get AC into the playoffs, due to Atlantic City owning the head to head tiebreaker advantage.  Two, Finish 5-7 and have Washington also finish 5-7, which will depend on how some other games go, but Atlantic City could get in based on an identical win loss record of opposing teams in the strength of schedule category. This would put the tiebreaker down to point differential in head to head games, which would give Atlantic City an edge over Washington. Three, win out, and have Washington finish 5-7. Atlantic City plays Philadelphia in the only scheduled game over the weekend, meaning all eyes will be on the Blackjacks this weekend. 

Upcoming Games:
7/6 vs. Philadelphia
7/21 vs. Baltimore

Columbus (1-9)

Columbus is eliminated, but can still affect the playoffs in a significant manner. However, the Destroyers put up only 12 points last weekend, which won’t beat anyone. Columbus has a bye week this weekend. The season finale vs. Washington is the game with the highest stakes. 

Upcoming Games:
7/14 vs. Albany
7/20 @ Washington

With only two games to go for each team, so much is still up for grabs. That is just one of the things that makes the AFL so special. Each game is must-watch television for Arena fans, so make sure to tune in on ESPN 3!

AFL Week 10 Preview and Picks!

By: David Taylor

Week 10 is here and things are heating up! The playoff teams could be set after this weekend, making making each game a must-win for one or both of the teams involved. Here is what is happening this week:

Albany comes into this contest on the heels of their highest scoring output this season. The Empire edged out Atlantic City 63-61. The Soul are also coming off of a big win, making this matchup even more interesting. If Philadelphia wins, the Soul clinch a playoff spot. If Albany wins, the Empire clinch the top seed in the playoffs. Much is at stake. In the previous matchup, Albany defeated Philadelphia at home, 57-48. In that matchup, WR Lonnie Outlaw recorded three touchdown receptions. Look for the Soul to target him again this weekend. 

Player to Watch: WR BJ Bunn, Philadelphia Soul. Bunn has stepped in nicely for the injured Aaron Wascha. Bunn’s reception totals have increased in each of the past three weeks, and he topped 100 yards receiving in the win against Columbus. 

Prediction: Albany wins in a shootout, 63-56. 

Well hello to Mr. Warren Smith, Jr.! Smith stepped in for an injured Randy Hippeard last week and lit up the Empire defense. Smith went 24-34 with 329 yards and 7 touchdowns. If he can match that output this weekend, Atlantic City will defeat Washington. Speaking of Washington, the Valor need just one more win to clinch a playoff spot. With the log jam in the middle for spots 2-4, Washington can ill afford to lose to Atlantic City. Playoff seeding is also on the line, and the Valor are eager to sew up that second place spot. It will be a close game, especially since a loss will effectively end the playoff chances for Atlantic City. Expect a high energy game with so much on the line. 

Player to Watch: QB Warren Smith, Jr. Atlantic City Blackjacks. Smith is the key to victory for Atlantic City. His incredible numbers last week make Atlantic City extremely unpredictable and dangerous for the rest of the season.  After leading Atlantic City to its highest point total of the season last weekend, against the best team in the league no less, it would be criminal to not let Smith start again this week.

Prediction: Atlantic City turns the tables on Washington. Blackjacks 56, Valor 55. 

Columbus has been eliminated from the playoffs, so the Destroyers get to play the role of spoiler for the rest of the season. Columbus plays Baltimore and Washington in two of the last three weeks. Wins over both of them would almost certainly impact the playoffs. A win for Baltimore sets up a nice playoff run for the Brigade. If Baltimore wins out, the Brigade will likely be the 2 seed in the playoffs. Needless to say, Baltimore is not looking past Columbus this weekend. 

Player to Watch: WR Brandon Collins, Baltimore Brigade. Everyone is well aware of the touchdown streak for Joe Hills, but Collins is the leading receiver for the Brigade. Collins leads the team in yards per catch and in total yards. He trails Hills only in touchdowns. 

Prediction: Columbus destroys the playoff party for Baltimore. Destroyers 44, Brigade 38. 

Here are the staff picks for this week: 

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