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Washington Valor’s Comeback Comes up Short

by Bee Jay Glosson

If you were to sum up the Valor season you could simply say redzone troubles, turnovers on downs, missed extra kicks and playing from behind more than any team should have to.  Then you could take that same summary and apply it to this game.  With the Valor entering this game riding a 3 game win streak, they came up against the buzz-saw known as the Albany Empire who were riding their own win streak of 5 games and an undefeated season.

If the season recap is an accurate summary of this game for the Valor then you can probably assume this wasn’t a good game for them. Playing against the highest scoring offense in the AFL, you can not afford mistakes to the magnitude that the Valor experienced in this game. The Valor would score early to go up 12-7 in the first quarter, but again the PAT kicks were missed on both touchdowns taking us back to our season summary of missed kicks.

Then the bottom would drop out for the Valor. Three first half possessions would end on downs and another would end on a safety from a blocked field goal attempt.  23 unanswered points by the Empire in the second quarter left the Valor scratching their heads and down 30-12 at the half.  While no lead in the AFL is ever safe as they say, it certainly didn’t look good for the Valor.

The second half would see more of the same, the Empire scored immediately after the second half kickoff pushing the score to 37-12.  Down by 25, cue your favorite intro music, Douglas McNeil III shows up to help the Valor start the comeback. The next 4 touchdowns for the Valor would all be Arvell Nelson to McNeil. 

Yes, the Empire would answer on 2 of those drives with touchdowns of their own, but there would be a stretch of 4 straight Valor touchdowns and a 2 point conversion that would see the Valor get the game back to a 3 point deficit at 51-48 with just under 5 minutes to go in the game.

That’s where the comeback would stop though, because for the first time in 3 weeks the Valor would come up short in the final minutes of the game. The Empire would tack on a touchdown and the game would end with the Valor falling to the Empire by 10 points with the final score being 58-48 at the final whistle.

Courtesy Washington Valor Twitter @WashingtonValor

Did we see some good things from the Valor? Yes, yes we did, but we also saw the same things that have been plaguing them all year long. Head coach Benji McDowell after the half said the team has to start fighting. When asked what he wants from his team he says, “to fight from the beginning and stop putting ourselves in this situation.”  He is right of course, all of the Valor’s problems this year have honestly been self inflicted.

The defending champs are a very good team that have some serious problems that need to be addressed ASAP. 

  • Number 1 is the redzone woes and turnover on downs problems that have absolutely dominated the Valor’s season.
  • Number 2 is the kicking issue, and it is definitely a problem. Pat Clarke has missed so many PATs this year he has single-handedly put the team behind the 8-ball in multiple games this year.
  • Number 3? That’s easy, stop putting yourselves in a hole that gets harder and harder to climb out of. Comeback victories are great and everything, but they cost the team emotionally and physically and it will eventually catch up to you as it clearly did this week to the Valor.

The Valor find themselves in a 4 way tie for second in the league sitting at 3-3 on the season.  Halfway through the season, with only 6 games remaining, the Valor have to play their best football down the stretch to make sure they get into the playoffs giving themselves a shot at defending the title they won last year. 

Up next is the final road game, in this 3 game road trip, against the Philadelphia Soul. The Valor beat the Soul 3 weeks ago on a last minute touchdown, and the Soul have not forgotten. So get your popcorn because the show is half way through and the endgame has started. As always Go Valor and be loud, be proud, be a Valor fan.

AFL Week 6: Preview and Picks

Week six marks the halfway point in the 2019 Arena Football season. With seven games remaining for each team, the margin for error is getting slimmer and slimmer. Here is a look at the key storylines of the week.

Philadelphia Soul Team Identity - Primary Logo


Columbus Destroyers (0-5) at Philadelphia Soul (2-3)


Of all the matchups this weekend, this one has the two teams most desperate for a win. Columbus has yet to win a game this season, although they have come very close in the previous two weeks. The Destroyers were beaten on a last-second touchdown last weekend. The Philadelphia Soul have lost three games in a row after starting the season 2-0. This is a must-win game for both teams. Sadly, the injury bug has bitten Philadelphia. The Soul lost a defensive back and two wide receivers in the loss to Baltimore. With depleted reserves, Philly looks vulnerable. But will the heartbreaking loss in the previous week still be hanging over the heads of the Destroyers?

Player to Watch: Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, Philadelphia Soul. Raudabaugh is coming off his worst performance of the season and his lowest completion percentage in a game (44.1%) since 2014. For the Soul to have a chance, Raudabaugh must get the team off to a fast start. Philadelphia has trailed at halftime for eight consecutive games.

Prediction: The home crowd lifts the Soul, keeping Columbus winless.
Soul 42 , Destroyers 38


Washington Valor (3-2) at Albany Empire (5-0)


Who can topple the Empire? Albany looks like a group of men playing among boys at this point in the season, averaging over 55 points per game in its last three games alone. Meanwhile, the Valor is two last-second plays away from being 1-4. Still, Washington has won three games in a row and is the second hottest team in the AFL. This game is also a rematch of last year’s AFL championship game, so look for Albany to be pumped up for this one. The team hashtag is #UnfinishedBusiness, which is in reference to Albany’s upset loss in last season’s finale.

Player to Watch: Quarterback Arvell Nelson, Washington Valor. If the Valor is going to pull off the upset, Nelson will need to have a masterpiece of a game. Albany’s defense has been getting stops when needed and has found the endzone multiple times this year. If Nelson can utilize his running ability on Saturday, and play turnover-free football, Washington has a very real chance to defeat the Empire.

Prediction: It’s difficult to pick against Albany at this point.
Empire 44, Valor 37


Baltimore Brigade (3-2) at Atlantic City Blackjacks (2-3)


This game is a rematch of week four and the second of three times the two teams will play this season. Baltimore has a one-game edge on Atlantic City in the overall win-loss column, but Atlantic City holds the head-to-head advantage after winning 48-41 in week four. The winner of this game moves one step closer to a coveted playoff spot. Last week, Atlantic City was dominated by Albany, while Baltimore picked up a huge victory against Philadelphia. Interestingly, Baltimore has alternated wins and losses all season. If that holds true, Atlantic City will win this weekend.

Player to watch: Wide Receiver Kendrick Ings, Atlantic City Blackjacks. Last week Ings had four total touchdowns and 184 all-purpose yards, including a kickoff return for a touchdown. Ings was the go-to target against the Empire. Look for him to have another big game against Baltimore.

Prediction: The Brigade roller coaster continues.
Blackjacks 44, Brigade 40.

Staff picks for this week. The overall season records are in parentheses.

Staff Picks

Destroyers @ Soul

Valor @ Empire

Brigade @

Blackjacks

David Taylor
@FaithFootball52

Record: (7-5)

Philadelphia Soul Team Identity - Primary Logo

Bee Jay Glosson

@schighwilliams

Record: (8-4)

Philadelphia Soul Team Identity - Primary Logo

Richard Martin

@RNM1996

Record: (9-3)

Philadelphia Soul Team Identity - Primary Logo

Scott Soares

@AFLFanZone

Record: (6-6)

Philadelphia Soul Team Identity - Primary Logo

Frank Walker

@bstationpod

Record: (4-5)

Akilah Evans-Pigford

@milezmomma

Record: (6-3)

Philadelphia Soul Team Identity - Primary Logo

Trent Chrisman

@InCWarrior

Record: (3-6)

BattleStations Episode 15: Soul Searching

We discuss the unpleasantness of the game against the Washington Valor, have a chat with Destroyers coach Matt Sauk, and preview the game against the Soul with AFLFanZone.com contributor Kiki.

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