by Bee Jay Glosson
It started early and it happened often, scoring that is, lots of scoring and lots of action.
With the Soul winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, the Valor would start the game with the ball and almost immediately with the lead. Less than 1 minute and 20 seconds into the game and the Valor would strike with the first touchdown, Arvell Nelson 7 yd pass to Jared Dangerfield.
Not to be outdone though, the Soul in less than 3 minutes strike back with a touchdown of their own, but the kicker commits the ultimate sin and misses the extra point leaving the Valor with the lead 7-6.
That is how the night got started and that is exactly how the rest of the night would go. Back and forth the entire night with no team having a greater lead than 15 at anytime, it would be a game where we saw the 2 starting quarterbacks combine for 14 total touchdowns.
Even the 15 point lead didn’t last longer than 3 minutes, putting the game back within 8 and striking distance the rest of the game.
As exciting as the whole game was, in which we saw Arvell Nelson pass for over 300 yards and 5 touchdowns and another 29 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground, it would be the final minute of play that would give the fans their money’s worth and all the blood pressure raising moments that they could have hoped for.
The Valor, leading 42-40 with 52 seconds left in the game, saw Pat Clarke kick a 30 yd field goal that cleared the nets and the uprights giving the Valor a 5 point lead and someone in the crowd a going home present in the form of a free ball.
With a 5 point lead and 52 seconds left, the game is over right? No, not even close. The Valor attempt an onside kick only to lose the attempt giving the Soul the ball on a short field.
When asked after the game why they went for an onside kick in that position, head coach Benji McDowell stated ” We wanted to give ourselves a shot at getting the ball back and running out the clock or if that didn’t happen, to hopefully still have enough time to score at the end should the Soul get the ball and strike fast.”
Strike fast they did. The Soul received the kick and then went on to score less than 30 seconds later giving them the lead 46-45 after a failed 2-point conversion, leaving just 23 seconds left on the clock for the Valor to try and win the game.
Down by 1 with 23 seconds left, the Valor line up on their own 4 for their final drive and chance to win their second game in a row.
“This is what we play for, what we practice for, what we put these uniforms on for. This is the moment we live for as players” is how Arvell Nelson responded when questioned on what was going through his mind taking the field for that last drive.
With a crowd over 6300, Capital One Arena was at its loudest, you had no doubt this would be a defining moment of the game. Then it happened. Nelson found Josh Reese running down the sideline. The Soul went for the pick instead of the tackle and Reese made them pay for it, taking it 46 yards to the house.
“I knew we could do it, it was a great pass from Arvell and we scored when we had to” Reese stated after the game on his winning catch.
The Soul would get a final shot at winning the game with just 6 seconds left but it would fall short. Valor winning the game 53-46.
Winning 2 regular season games in a row for the first time in franchise history, the Valor seem to be turning the corner and finding the high gear for the rest of the season. After all, the last time the Valor won 2 straight games they brought an ArenaBowl trophy home with them.
Jimmy Gordon was asked if this team is better than the championship team from last year, he responded, “Its hard to compare last year to this year. We have our core guys still and we are way more experienced, we know what we can do and we believe we will do it every play.”
As great as the game was, not everything went smoothly for Valor personnel. As I was waiting to get in the media entrance before the game, Jake Payne was attempting to gain access to the arena when a security guard asked if he was media or something. I responded with “That’s Jake Payne, Valor player and ArenaBowl 31 champion” Jake turned around and said “See, he knows me!” Asked if he had any I.D. to prove who he was, Jake responded with the most priceless quote of all time while holding his hand up “I’ve got a ring!” I literally started laughing out loud.
All jokes aside, it was easily one of the most exciting games I have ever witnessed as a Valor fan.
Next week the Valor travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on the winless expansion team, the Columbus Destroyers.
Arvell Nelson has extended invitations to Ted Ginn Sr. and Jr., stating that “He has a special place in his heart for the pair and Columbus has a special place in their’s, and he looks forward to the chance to share that moment with them.”
One third of the way through the regular season the Valor sit at 2-2 on the season, in third place in the league. They control their own destiny, just win and keep winning is the motto. Tracy Belton in a candid moment after the game told me he thinks the Valor could honestly run the table the rest of the year, and you know what, I believe him.
With Arvell Nelson leading the league in pass yards (1121), rushing yards (94), rushing touchdowns (7) and overall touchdowns (24), there is no reason that they can’t. It’s a great time to be a fan, Go Valor.
by Bee Jay Glosson
After just one week of action its understandable to not think about the league MVP. Where would the fun in that be though? That being said, I have 4 candidates the I believe have a legitimate shot at being the MVP.
James Romain from the Philadelphia Soul in week 1 had 2 interceptions, returning both for TDs. With those stats that puts him on pace for 24 interceptions and 24 TDs, unheard of defensive stats. We know that pace is unsustainable of course, or is it?
On the defensive side of the ball also is Baltimore Brigade player Joe Powell. Joe is already in mid-season form having 2 interceptions in the first game, and though none went for TDs like James Romain, both interceptions stopped crucial drives for the Washington Valor.
Now that’s the ballhawk side of the line, lets talk about the offensive side now. Dezmon Epps from the Washington Valor had 201 yds receiving and 4 TDs setting a new franchise record for the Valor. The pace would be brutal to continue but 48 TDs and over 2400 yards receiving would be hard to not give the MVP to.
Every great receiver needs a great QB to throw to them, and that’s where my personal pick for MVP comes in. Arvell Nelson threw for 391 yards and 8 TDs. On pace for a truly unbelievable 4704 yards passing and 96 TDs. 96 TDs, could you imagine that?
Well there you have it, the 2019 way too early Arena Football MVP candidates. As the season goes on we will get the chance to see just who the real contenders are, but for now, sit back and relax because its going to be a great season.
By Kyle Sander | firstname.lastname@example.org
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on April 18, 2017 at 6:30 PM
Before getting into the rankings, I want to bring up the horrible officiating in the Philadelphia at Tampa Bay game. What in the world was that? Between inadvertent whistles and blind reviews, that was NOT a good showing for the AFL. I believe the league will review that tape and make sure calls like the incomplete pass don’t happen again.
Now that I got that off my chest, let’s dive right into the power rankings!
- Philadelphia Soul – (1-0) / LW: 2 / Week 2 – W at TB 56-52
Philadelphia entered the Amalie Arena as the defending Arena Bowl champions and at times looked every bit as good as the team that traveled to Arizona last August and unseated the Rattlers. But there were also times the rust was still very much a factor as Raudabaugh turned the ball over twice, one fumble and one interception.
This is still the team to beat after narrowly edging the Storm in their season debut. The Soul look to shake off more rust this Saturday as they travel to D.C. to take on the 1-0 Valor.
2. Tampa Bay Storm – (1-1) / LW: 3 / Week 2 – L vs PHI 52-56
There is no way around it. The Storm got robbed Saturday night on national television. How the officials missed the review citing “No visual evidence” is atrocious and something the league should be looking in to. It was clear to everyone watching the game and even Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh that it was a backwards pass and should’ve been a touchdown on the field, but at least Tampa ball due to the play being called dead.
Not a lot of people felt the Storm was even going to put up the fight they did against the Soul. Most would’ve said it would take a magical night by Randy Hippeard and Joe Hills, but it was actually Kendrick Ings who stole the show. Ings finished the game with three touchdowns, two receiving and one kick return. Ings is proving once again how much of a mismatch he truely is and as long as the offense in Tampa Bay stays healthy, Ings will continue to be more and more of a factor.
Tampa Bay will welcome the reeling Cleveland Gladiators in week three, a rematch of week one when Tampa Bay edged the Gladiators 46-40 at the Quicken Loans Arena.
3. Washington Valor – (1-0) / LW: 1 / Week 2 – Bye
After thoroughly disposing of the Brigade in week one, the Valor enjoyed their first bye of the season. Their drop in the rankings is more to do with the resiliency of the Soul after beating Tampa Bay than it is an indictment on the Valor.
Saturday’s game versus Philadelphia should shed more light on whether week one was a a matter of playing a quarterback who had no business starting (Chase Cartwright) or if this is the team to challenge the defending champions.
4. Baltimore Brigade – (2-0) / LW: 5 / Week 2 – W at CLE 52-49
The story of the 2017 Brigade has already been started by backup quarterback Shane Carden. Since replacing Cartwright in week one against the Valor, the Brigade has outscored their opponents 90-73. Carden’s numbers may not impress you when looking at the stat sheet, but clearly his leadership and all around play has sparked this club in their inaugural season.
If Carden can continue to find his favorite target wide receiver Reggie Gray (leader in yards, touchdowns, and receptions) the Brigade will continue to rise in the rankings.
Week three is Baltimore’s time for a rest as they see their first bye of the season before heading to face Philadelphia in week four.
5. Cleveland Gladiators – (0-2 ) / LW: 4 / Week 2 – L vs BAL 49-52
By far the most disappointing start of the season goes to Cleveland and their quarterback situation. After not bringing back Arvell Nelson (Cleveland’s leading passer in 2016), they have run full circle and seem to be going back to Nelson. Both Shane Boyd and Tanner Marsh have failed to show any signs of sustained success. The defense was decimated by injury in week two as three starting defensive backs were ruled out before the game which only helped Gray pad his stats.
It has only been two weeks, so we are far from seeing Cleveland press the panic button, but they need to choose a quarterback and stick with him through the ups and downs of the season. I personally feel Nelson showed last year he could be a dynamic player in this league. Give him the keys to the offense and let the chips fall where they may.
The schedule never really gets easy as Cleveland was a unanimous pick for dead last, but if there is a chance to steal a win, it would be in week three. If the Gladiators can get ahead early and the Storm let the Soul beat them twice, Cleveland could get the confidence they so desperately need.
- Philadelphia Soul – 23 (3)
- Tampa Bay Storm – 20 (2)
- Washington Valor – 17
- Baltimore Brigade – 10
- Cleveland Gladiators – 5
()=First Place Votes
The AFL Fan Zone power rankings contributing members are:
Kyle Sander @ArenaFBOutsidrs, Scott Soares @AFLSlasher, Stephen Ur @writingfanatic2, Joran Palacio @Joran_Palacio16, Ryan Knowles @rykno52, and Jesse Mattson @LocalBigTime1