Tag Archives: Arena Football

AFL Playoffs: Round 1 Recap

The road to the Arena Bowl has begun! Photo courtesy of Arenafootball.com

By: David Taylor

After two blow-out playoff games, it appears that the matchup Arena Bowl 32 is set. The Philadelphia Soul and the Albany Empire will more than likely be squaring off. Philadelphia will be looking for its third Arena Bowl championship, while Albany will be looking for its first-ever Arena Bowl championship as the Empire. (Albany previously won a title as the Firebirds in 1999.) Previously in the year, Philadelphia and Albany played three times with Albany winning two out of three. The last time these two teams played, Albany destroyed Philadelphia by a score of 72 to 27. Once the game got out of hand, it was clear that Philadelphia was no longer playing to win, which may explain the lopsided score.

Albany and Philadelphia still have to get through the second round of the aggregate scoring series for the playoffs, but both teams will be heading into next weekend with a +30 point margin. This margin means that Albany and Philadelphia will have to lose by more than 30 points next weekend to not advance to Arena Bowl 32. Albany seems to feel pretty good about its chances since ticket sales for the Arena Bowl have already been announced on the Empire’s social media sites. Arena Bowl 32 will be held at the higher seed, which will be Albany if the Empire can hold onto a 35 point cushion. Albany defeated Baltimore 61 to 26. Philadelphia defeated Washington 69 to 33. Next week, Albany and Philadelphia will look to finish off Baltimore and Washington.  

The Soul surprised a lot of people by putting Darius Reynolds back on offense this week. The Reynolds move proved to be extremely useful as Reynolds scored three touchdowns in his return to the WR position. Defensive back James Romain shined as well, as he intercepted three passes, including the last desperation heave of the game to put an exclamation point on the victory for Philadelphia. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh was equally impressive. The Soul signal-caller finished 17-23 for 284 yards and six touchdowns. Two early passes were dropped as well, meaning Raudabagh could have had even better numbers. He played at an MVP level in this game.

James Romain returns one of his three interceptions.
Photo: arena_football_photos on instagram

Albany dominated Baltimore from basically start to finish. The only exception was a kick off return for a touchdown by Joe Powell at the beginning of the game. Unfortunately for Baltimore, this is one of the few things that went right in the first half. Albany Empire quarterback Tommy Grady was sensational in the game, spreading the ball around everywhere. Grady’s favorite target was Quentin Sims. Sims caught five touchdown passes to lead the Empire to victory. This victory, coupled with a disastrous loss for Washington, likely settled the MVP debate for this season. The other leading contender to Tommy Grady for MVP was Arvell Nelson, quarterback of the Washington Valor. Nelson struggled mightily against the Soul, turning over the ball four times. The Most Valuable Player for the league this year will more than likely be Tommy Grady.

Tommy Grady was spectacular all season. His dominance continued in round one of the playoffs. Photo by: D. Taylor

Albany and Philadelphia are playing their best football of the season right now. If these are the two teams that will participate in Arena Bowl 32, fans are in for a treat. August 11 is coming soon, and a new champion will be crowned!

2019 AFL Playoff Scenarios

Photo by David Taylor

by David Taylor

Week 10 is coming soon! This weekend could potentially set the playoffs for this season. Only one postseason ticket has been punched, so there are three more up for grabs. Here are some playoff scenarios to sift through. 

Albany Empire: (8-1) 

Playoffs: Clinched. Albany is now playing for the #1 seed in the playoffs. A win this weekend will lock that up for the Empire. One thing to watch for with Albany is whether or not the Empire will rest some of its players down the stretch, which could impact playoff seeding. 

Upcoming Games:
6/28 @ Philadelphia Soul
7/14 @Columbus Destroyers
7/20 vs. Philadelphia Soul

Washington Valor (5-4)

Playoffs: Washington needs just one win to clinch a playoff spot. The defending AFL champs are in a prime position to clinch the #2 spot with two more wins. Washington holds the tiebreaker advantage over Philadelphia and can take the tiebreaker over Baltimore next weekend. Defeating Atlantic City this weekend would all but eliminate the Blackjacks from the postseason. 

Upcoming Games:
6/29 vs. Atlantic City
7/13 @Baltimore
7/20 vs. Columbus

Baltimore Brigade (5-4) 

Playoffs: Baltimore gets in with a win and an Atlantic City loss. Atlantic City owns the tiebreaker in the head to head category, so if the two teams finish with identical records, Baltimore would likely miss the postseason. Baltimore does own the tiebreaker against Philadelphia, based on points scored in head to head matchups, so that could become a seeding issue in the weeks to come. 

Upcoming Games: 
6/28 vs. Columbus
7/13 vs. Washington
7/21@ Atlantic City

Philadelphia Soul (5-4)

Playoffs: Philadelphia has the most difficult schedule of all the teams on the playoff bubble. The Soul play Albany twice (home and away) and also travel to Atlantic City. Philadelphia clinches a postseason spot with a win this weekend. A win over Albany this weekend would also give the Soul confidence heading into the postseason, since the Empire have only lost one game all season. 

Upcoming Games:
6/28 vs. Albany
7/6 @ Atlantic City
7/20 @ Albany

Atlantic City Blackjacks (3-6)

Atlantic City is the team in the most danger right now. The Blackjacks need to win out to get a playoff spot ideally. There is a small chance they can sneak in at 5-7, but that will require a lot of other chips to fall Atlantic City’s way. If Atlantic City finishes 6-6, it will likely mean that either Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington will be 5-7, which would vault the Blackjacks to the postseason in their inaugural season. Two of the last three games are in Atlantic City, and all three of the Blackjacks’ wins have been home wins. 

Upcoming Games:
6/29 @ Washington
7/6 vs. Philadelphia
7/21 vs. Baltimore

Columbus Destroyers (1-8)

Columbus has been eliminated from the playoffs. The Destroyers can still play spoiler though, and they are a team that is much better than their record indicates. Wins over Washington and Baltimore in the coming weeks would undoubtedly affect the playoffs.

Upcoming Games:
6/28 @ Baltimore
7/14 vs. Albany
7/20 @ Washington

This weekend promises some of the most dramatic moments of the season so far! Tune in to ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app to catch all of the Arena Football League action.

Welcome Back Columbus! You’ve Been Missed.

by Joseph Couch

The date was July 7, 2007.  It was supposed to be a somber day for the AFL team from Columbus.  The Columbus Destroyers were playing one of the best teams to ever suit up in the Arena Football League.  The Dallas Desperados were having a record breaking year and finding new ways to win each week.  One of the best quarterbacks in AFL history, Clint Dolezel, was having a season to remember piling up record after record and win after win.  The Destroyers with a record of 8 wins and 9 losses were supposed to go on the road and get absolutely destroyed by the Desperados, who were coming off a first round bye with a record of 15 wins and only 1 loss.  Except, it did not happen like that at all.

The Destroyers, led by Matt Nagy, trailed early on and even got down by two touchdowns midway through the second quarter.  Everyone on ESPN thought that the game was over and that Dallas would be one more win away from the ArenaBowl.  Being a diehard Columbus fan, I never lost any hope as I sat next to my living room TV wearing my Columbus Destroyer jersey.   Nagy would lead the team on an incredible run as Columbus would score 31 of the next 34 points.  The Destroyers leading receiver for the year, Damien Groce, would end up having a career game and the team from Columbus ended up with a 66-59 victory in Dallas. 

This game shocked the whole league and the entire state of Ohio.  Columbus had a team advancing to the National Conference Championship game.  If you are from Ohio, you eat, you sleep, and you breathe the game of football from an early age.  There is way too much history in the state of Ohio not to be a football fan.  The game originated in the great city of Canton.  There are two of the most storied high school football teams in the country in Massillon Washington and Canton McKinley.  The capital of the state has one of the most successful collegiate football programs in the history of the NCAA in The Ohio State Buckeyes.  The list goes on and on, so having an Arena Football Team make a conference title game is more popular than most of any state’s collegiate team.  The Destroyers ended up beating the Georgia Force seven days later, as they would advance to their first ever ArenaBowl.  The city of Columbus and the state of Ohio was in a frenzy.  Two weeks later, the San Jose SaberCats would put the Columbus Destroyers to rest as they dominated the ArenaBowl winning by a margin of 22 points.  

Everyone thought that this team would be back in the thick of the playoff race the following year, but the Destroyers could never gain any momentum throughout the season struggling to a 3 and 13 record.  The city knew in their mind that the Destroyers would rebuild and be back sooner than later until the AFL released devastating news in 2009.  The 2009 Arena Football season would be suspended and play would resume back up in 2010.  When 2010 came around, the Destroyers would not return to the league.  Arena Football in Columbus was over.  Gone.  The pain of losing a team, that you put your blood, sweat, and tears into every weekend, was gone and all that was left were the memories.  All in a blink of an eye, the Columbus Destroyers left and all hope was gone.

Flash forward to February 7, 2019.  I am sitting at work when suddenly my phone vibrates.  BREAKING NEWS: THE ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE WILL ADD A TEAM IN COLUMBUS, OHIO FOR THE 2019 SEASON.  I could not believe what I read.  I read it again and again, dumbfounded, staring at my phone like a little kid on Christmas morning.  Arena Football is officially back in the city of Columbus.  My childhood memories will become a reality once again as I get to watch the best sport in the world in the best city in the country.  As the season approaches, I, along with every other Columbus Fan, find ourselves reading about the Columbus AFL TEAM everyday.  All of us Columbus nuts are counting down the days until April 27th and our team returns to Nationwide Arena.  I think I speak for the entire fanbase in saying that AFL football is back in Columbus, so why not win an ArenaBowl title this year?  The clock is ticking closer to the season, the countdown has begun, and the anticipation for AFL football is back in the great city of Columbus!

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