Week Four is in the books in the Arena Football League, and the Albany Empire have established they dominance as the only undefeated team left in the league.
Columbus has struggled this season, currently the only team without a win, while the other four teams in the league sit at 2-2, which could lead to interesting seeding scenarios for what could be an extremely fun postseason.
This week, Arena Football made it’s first appearance in Columbus, Ohio for the first time in 11 years, Washington and Philadelphia had an absolute shootout in the nation’s capital, and the Blackjacks rolled the dice to their second win in franchise history. Let’s dive in shall we?
Week Four Results:
Washington 53 Philadelphia 46
Atlantic City 48 Baltimore 41
Albany 56 Columbus 40
Nelson and Raudabaugh Light Up the Nation’s Capital
Arvell Nelson and Dan Raudabaugh almost blew the roof off the Capital One Arena with their fireworks. Raudabaugh went 19-of-26 for 7 TDs and 280 yards, while Nelson went 23-of-38 for 5 TD including a 46 yard strike to Josh Reese.
Meanwhile, Tommy Grady did Tommy Grady things for the Empire, going 22-of-32 for 320 yards and 7 TD. Grady also threw for his 800th career passing touchdown, giving him 805 total and moving him to sixth all time and just four touchdowns behind Andy Kelly and cracking into the top five.
Guerra is Good
Last week, I said that Dezmon Epps would need a huge week to help the Valor beat the Soul. I don’t know if he checks out AFL Fan Zone, but he was impressive, with 9 receptions for 113 yards. And while Epps didn’t have any touchdowns, his play helped free up the other Valor receivers like Reggie Gray who had four receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, the Soul receivers had a great day with Aaron Wascha and Darius Prince each finishing the game with 115 yards receiving and a combined five touchdowns. In fact, every player for Philadelphia who recorded a catch scored a touchdown.
In Atlantic City, Kendrick Ings of the Blackjacks and Brandon Collins of the Brigade both hit double digit receptions, with Ings having 10 receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns, and Collins finishing with 10 receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
And while Malachi Jones was fantastic for Albany, going for 10 receptions for 179 yards and three touchdowns, Fabian Guerra has established himself as wide receiver one in Columbus, going for 13 receptions for 202 yards and four touchdowns.
Guerra also added another kickoff return for a touchdown, giving him two on the year. The entire AFL had just two kickoff returns last season.
Rise of the Empire
While the final score of the Baltimore Brigade-Atlantic City Blackjacks game finished with a high score, there were three combined sacks and a defensive score as Nias Martin of Baltimore had a 26 yard interception return to get the Brigade back into the game in Atlantic City.
Once again, the Empire established their dominance, scoring 21 points off turnovers and spoiling the homecoming in Columbus. Speaking of Columbus Destroyers and turnovers…
The Destroyers have had a rough go so far in their first season back in the Arena Football League. One of the reasons has been problems holding on to the ball, as Columbus has fumbled the ball eight times, losing the ball four times.
For the most part, it’s been the exchange between the quarterback and the center that has given the Destroyers issues, as over half of those eight fumbles have come in the exchange.
After giving up 21 points off turnovers this past week, the Destroyers will need to get some chemistry between the offensive line and the quarterback or else it will be a long season in Ohio
This Week’s Games
May 25, 2019
Washington Valor (2-2) @ Columbus Destroyers (0-4) — 3:30 PM
Albany Empire (4-0) @ Atlantic City Blackjacks (2-2) — 7:00 PM
May 26, 2019
Philadelphia Soul (2-2) @ Baltimore Brigade (2-2) — 3:30 PM
We talk with Columbus Destroyers Head Coach Sauk about the team and Ryan McCarthy from ArenaFan about the Albany Empire.
BattleStations: a Columbus Destroyers podcast in conjunction with AFL Fan Zone.
Follow Frank Walker on Twitter at @BStationPod and at https://battlestations.pinecast.co
by Richard Martin
What’s up everybody? Welcome to a new weekly AFL blog that I like to call Stat Pack Attack.
If you’re wondering why I waited until after week three to start looking at stats, I wanted to get a more accurate look at the league after players had some competition and a few weeks to get use to their new coaches and players.
Every week, we’ll take a look at the passing, receiving and defensive stat leaders in the AFL, along with the strangest stat or most shocking stat of the week.
This week, the scoring was up and the special teams play lead to some interesting stats. So without further ado, let’s dive in.
Week Three Results:
Baltimore 42 Columbus 35
Albany 57 Philadelphia 42
Washington 41 Atlantic City 34
The Quarterback is arguably the most important position in the Arena Football League. So far this year, two QBs have stood above the crowd.
Tommy Grady has been in the league for years, winning two AFL MVPs and setting the league records for touchdowns, passing yards and completions in one season. This week, Grady was on fire, going 14-of-17 for 256 yards with seven touchdowns in Alabny’s 57-48 win over Philadelphia. Grady leads the league with 16 TDs and has passed for 732 yards.
Shane Boyd meanwhile has been phenomenal as well, going 24-of-44 with 287 yards and five touchdowns in the Baltimore Brigade’s 48-30 win over Columbus. Boyd this year has accounted for 15 touchdowns and just 1 interception.
The quarterback that has impressed me most however may be Arvell Nelson of Washington. While he’s thrown for just 12 touchdowns and has three interceptions, the Valor signal caller has thrown for 819 yards this season. He can thank one of the best receivers in the league for that.
Lamark Brown and Darius Prince have been impressive this year, each with six touchdowns this season.
But Dezmon Epps has surprised everyone in his first year in the league. Week one, Epps went for nine receptions for 201 yards and four touchdowns. Week two, he accounted for five receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown. This week, Atlantic City focused on Epps, holding the former Idaho Vandals star to just three receptions for 29 yards. Epps should be able to rebound, but he’ll need a big week to help the Valor take down Philadelphia.
James Romain has been the talk on defense this season. In week one, Romain had not one but two pick sixes in the Soul’s win over Atlantic City.
Joe Powell leads the league in interceptions with three, including one this week against Columbus.
In the tackling department, Monte Lewis of Atlantic City leads the league with three sacks, all three coming in week two against Columbus.
Stat of the Week
This week, there were two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the Arena Football League, a 55 yard return by Fabian Guerra from Columbus and a seven yard onside kick return for a touchdown by Albany’s Arkeith Brown.
While having two kickoff returns for touchdowns in one week is rare in any football league, it’s especially rare for the AFL, who had two total kickoff return touchdowns all last season.
This Week’s Games
May 18, 2019
Philadelphia Soul (2-1) @ Washington Valor (1-2) — 3:30 PM
Baltimore Brigade (2-1) @ Atlantic City BlackJacks (1-2) — 7:00 PM
Albany Empire (3-0) @ Columbus Destroyers (0-3) — 7:00 PM
All photos courtesy of official team Facebook and Twitter feeds.