By James Chambers, Contributing Writer
The Wichita Force suffered a slaughter from the Salina Liberty a week ago Saturday. A game where Wichita would only score three points in the second half. Consequently, Wichita would go on to to lose that game with a score of 50-22. Plagued with defensive and offensive setbacks all season Wichita has lost four and won two games. Saturday Wichita played against the Enid Flying Aces, but this time they played at home. The game started slow with each team answering scores. First with Enid setting their pace, scoring the first TD. Wichita answered with a jet reverse that tied the game. Just when it looked like Wichita would hold Enid on third down, they managed to drop in a touchdown pass. Wichita answered with a drive that concluded with a five yard pass to Tomlinson. Even with that score, the first quarter ended with Wichita down seven with a score of 21-14. In the second quarter Wichita’s defense stepped up to hold Enid to just three points. Consequently by the end of the of the second quarter Wichita held a 31-24 lead. The defense of Wichita has been under question all season. Many fans question why the team did not try to sign Mckendrick Harper instead of allowing the Liberty to sign him. This quarter the defense started to prove they can compete, that they can hold teams without giving up the long ball. In fact the defense would end the half with an interception. Moreover allowing the team one touchdown advantage on Enid going into the locker room for the first half. The second half went on to hold surprises from Wichita. The first score of the second half Lindsay had a 33 yard scamper for pay dirt. The next possession, Hubener threw a nice touch pass right over the shoulder where Gill would make a spectacular catch jumping in the air and catching the pass while tumbling over the boundary for the touchdown. Ending the third quarter with a score of 37-27. Tomlinson caught a two yard toss from Hubener at the start of the fourth quarter after Wichita’s defense holding Enid to no score. Wichita once again held Enid to no first downs. Wichita immediately fumbled away the possession and Enid turned it into six points. Wichita put the game out of reach when they answered that score and left 45 seconds on the clock. Wichita immediately intercepted Enid and put the game away with a pick six. Wichita out played Enid, but Enid is an expansion team and has not won one game this season and holds a winless record. The true test in Wichita will be Saturday when they travel to Sioux City to take on the Bandits. The game will be very important for both teams because the Bandits are after their second win and Wichita looks to improve their record to three wins and four losses.
Written by Chris Mabry
Last night, the Texas Revolution battled the Beef in Omaha, Nebraska. Both these teams are at the top of their respective conferences. The Revolution are sitting at a comfortable position in the South Conference. The Omaha Beef are sitting at 2-1 with the Salina Liberty breathing down their necks.
Throughout the night, the Texas Revolution had major problems. First, the Revs were without a kicker so after each touchdown they would go for a 2-point conversion and instead of kicking a field goal, they would go for it on fourth down. Texas would go for it on fourth down five times and on two of those occasions the Revolution turned it over on downs and the Revolution also threw 2 interceptions in the game. However, they did have four touchdowns in the game.
Revolution quarterback Robert Kent completed 61 percent 245 yards, 4 TD's, 2 INT. Dominique Carson is the leading rusher for the Revolution. He had 3 rush attempts for 7 yards. Finally, leading in the receiving category, Dominique Carson . He caught the ball from Robert Kent 8 times for 100 yards and also caught one for a touchdown.
As for the Omaha Beef, they virtually had a flawless game They only had one turn over on downs and only completed one field goal. The rest of the drives resulted in . a touchdown. Derrick Bernard, the Beef quarterback completed 58 percent of his passes for 98 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He did end the game with no interceptions. Bernard also became your leading rusher. He carried the ball 93 times on 8 rushing attempts. Finally, Antonio Bray is the leading receiver for the Omaha Beef. Bray caught the ball 5 teams for 52 yards and even scored a touchdown in the game.
Both these teams will face each other on Monday, May 13 at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Make sure to come out to the game if you're in Texas or make sure to watch the game on Pluto TV. You can watch the game on your smart tv, computer, or cell phone.
By Rob Disario
And just like that, the Massachusetts Pirates are back on their A-game. With the aid of last minute pickups: Lashard Durr, Jokobi Smith and Ishmael Zamora, Coach Payton and his previously shipwrecked buccaneers topped the expansion Orlando Predators. The highlight of Saturday's match-up was the Pirate defense who left the Florida team scoreless after the first half. Predator offensive line couldn't hold back the onslaught of pressure and quarterback Kyle Israel spent the game either on his back or on the run.
In an exclusive AFT interview, I asked Mass Pirates head coach Anthony Payton what he did differently to prepare for tonight's win. “You have to understand,” he said. “Carolina is the best team in the league...I have 18 new guys, coming from the outdoor game, they needed to adjust.” Payton went on to say the return of snapper Thomas Claiborne made a big difference in the pass protection.
I asked Coach Payton about Devonn Brown not playing tonight, “He’s banged up” he offered. “They ran him at the CFL tryout and he came back all banged up!” When asked whether Brown would dress for next week’s match-up against the sharks he said, “I don’t know...we’ll see how he does at practice."
Coach Payton took his share of digital hits this week after two painful losses to the Cobras. But in extraordinary fashion, he kept himself and his players focused to not only finish with a win, but outscore the Predators four to one. The Jacksonville Sharks visit Worcester for week 4 match-up on Saturday, May 4 kickoff at 8:20pm.
PER AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE (AAL): On Saturday morning AAL CEO, Tony Zefiretto announced, "It is with a heavy heart to share; late last night, AA President, Jack Bowman passed away." For most of the last seven months, Jack was confined to a hospital bed as he battled to recover from a variety of illnesses. He fought to the very end.
Elected into the Minor League Football Hall of Fame in 2002, Jack is an "Icon" within the arena/indoor football industry. He will always be remembered for his commitment to the sport and as a friend to the tens of thousands of people he touched.
All future American Arena League Championships will be played for the Jack Bowman Trophy.
By Toph Kopchak Director of AFL Coverage.
We survived the offseason! With a new world of gaming, I thought I would list a "Who To Watch For" in Week 1.
WAS @ BAL Friday 7 ET NBC Sports Washington and Monumental Sports
"Superman" Joe Hills ($9,600) will get to show off his skills right away to his new Baltimore fans on opening night. The highest priced player on Draft Kings is a favorite to watch, but this week's steal could be on the other team. Valor Quarterback Arvell Nelson ($9,400) has the best legs among AFL QB's and scored over 6 more FPPG (fantasy points per game) than Hills last season, and also earned Arena Bowl MVP last season.
AC @ PHI Saturday 3:30 ET NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus and Monumental Sports
Dan Raudabaugh ($8,200) is not even priced with the top half of the QB's, something that will not bug this vet too much, but still how? I see good value here, especially if you pair him with one of the league's best rising receivers Darius Prince ($8,400). Aaron Wascha ($7,400) being banged up gives Prince more value.
COL @ ALB Saturday 7 ET WNYA My4 Albany, WSYX 6.2 Columbus and Monumental Sports
Tommy Grady ($9,200) has lots of value, but the Destroyers did load up on defense and with Hills no longer there it may take a couple drives to figure out a "Brigade" type defense first style, but it's sure tempting to double up with Malachi Jones ($8,800) who took AFL Rookie of The Year last season. Jones also had a look by former Destroyers QB and current Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy and also in Atlanta in the AAF. Cheaper than former Empire wideout Joe Hills, plus he scored more than him last season, plus having a quality FB in Mykel Benson ($4,400) will still free him up inside the 5 this season. However, his price and recent history makes him iffy for Saturday night.
By Rob Disario
Three former Mass Pirates have joined forces on the AFL expansion team Atlantic City Blackjacks. In an age of expanding arena football leagues and teams it’s difficult to keep track of our favorite players. When the 2019 Mass Pirates roster was released I noted three of my top picks were suspiciously absent. I began my search and found Nick Haag, Cornelius Lewis and Kiante Northington in New Jersey. It’s unclear why they moved to the Garden State AFL team, but one may surmise its a bigger opportunity to play.
After the inaugural 2018 season, Pirate linebacker Nick Haag made a brief, off-season stop at the Carolina Cobras before signing with Atlantic City. Unfortunately for the Cobras, star wide receiver Tyron Laughinghouse also made the move to the Blackjacks.
Defensive Back Kiante Northington, who wore number 13 for the Pirates was the defensive lucky charm in 2018 with 12 interceptions for 136 yards with one resulting in a pick-six. The DB lead the team with 55 unassisted tackles and 17 assisted. Just a phenomenal all around defensive player.
Cornelius Lewis was a force on the front line. The loss of the veteran offensive lineman was felt in the Pirates first two games where QB Sean Brackett suffered from a lack of protection being forced out of the pocket on most plays against the Cobras. During the 2018 season, Cornelius Lewis played in 11 games with one reception for 17 yards and a touchdown. Not too shabby.
Many would contend playing in the once defunct AFL is a step in the right direction for these three former Pirates. Others would argue the money hemorrhaging AFL is one bad season away from closing its doors (...again). But, I think we’d all agree football fans are rooting for Haag, Lewis, Northington and the sport in general to succeed.
The Atlantic City Blackjacks are the latest in expansion teams of the Arena Football League. Their 2019 season is due to kick off Saturday April 27, 2019 in Philadelphia while the NAL Pirates play their third game at home against the former AFL team, Orlando Predators.
By RJ Ciancio
Director of NAL Coverage
With the New York Streets standing at two wins on zero losses after they demolished the Orlando Predators the main talk about the team is venue choice. In lieu of a lopsided game summary I figured now would be a good time to give my top five options for where I think the Streets could play in a personal worst to the best list. I don’t know about the team finances but, nevertheless here are my top five venues the New York Streets could play at.
At number five we have the Barclays Center. Currently the arena holds around 15,795 for hockey games and 17,732 for basketball. With the New York Islanders, Brooklyn Nets and the Long Island University Blackbirds (who use this as an alternate venue) as tenants it’s clear to say that this relatively new venue is a popular one. With the Streets practice facility in Brooklyn, some people would advocate for this to be higher on the list. I think that since the facility has no past of hosting an arena football team before combined with the fact the Streets don’t have a deal with them and the large capacity that could plunge the team into debt if they don’t draw well is reason enough to not play at the venue for a bit.
For number four we have the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a very well respected venue in the arena football world. The venue hosted the New York Dragons from 2001-2008 and currently hosts the New York Islanders, Long Island Nets, New York Open tennis tournament and will start playing host to the New York Riptide of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) next season. With around 16,170 seats for hockey the venue might be to big for the Streets for now.
Number three is a true oddball as I’ve chosen the Staten Island Pavilion. The Pavillion hosted the Staten Island Xtreme of the National Indoor Football league in 2004, giving and example of a past team playing arena ball in the facility. With 3,000 seats (around the same amount the Westchester County Center currently has for team games) this could be a nice stepping stone venue so the team can get acclimated to playing in the Big Apple.
At number two we have the granddaddy of all sports arenas in the world, Madison Square Garden (MSG). The venue holds approximately 18,006 seats (for hockey) and is the current home to the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and St John’s Red Storm. With the team already agreeing to play multiple games in MSG this season and with MSG Network covering the games the Garden seems like a natural fit. The big question is will the Streets be able to afford the venue full-time? Maybe if they draw well when they play there this year we will have a better idea of how it all works.
My top pick for where the New York Streets should play their home games is the Westchester County Center. I imagine some people aren’t happy about this pick. My big question is why would the team switch venues so quickly. They are already playing in MSG this season and they are under contract to play In Westchester. Unless there is a buy out clause (and we don’t know how much that would cost) why not let it be for a bit as the team grows? I imagine we all want them in the Big Apple but patience is key when running a business and that’s what we need to have with the Streets.
By: Toph Kopchak Head of AFL Coverage
One of the final pieces was just set as the Columbus Destroyers get ready to head to Albany NY this Saturday to kickoff the new season. Columbus just added one of the most accurate legs in all of football in Craig Peterson, but we will let him tell you the rest:
My name is Craig Peterson. I was born and raised in Albany, New York and went to Burnt Hills Ballston Lake high school. Last year I played for the Carolina Cobras and our team won the National Arena League championship. After winning the championship, I received special teams player of the year and first team ALL NAL. I also had a team high of 154 points which was good for 3rd in the league. This year, I had an opportunity to compete against 4 other kickers for the job in Columbus. Drew Basil and Tyler Durbin were among the kickers I was competing against. Both had gone to and played football at Ohio State University. Here I was the only kicker there who had never played high school or college football. I was eager and excited to compete for the job against such a talented group of kickers. After 4 long, consecutive days of competition, I came out on top! Every day I went in, I just focused on hitting my ball and being consistent. I was statistically at the top of every category consisting of extra points, field goals, kickoff accuracy and onside kicks. After meeting with the coaching staff afterwards and being awarded the job, I was ecstatic!
How you feel about being in Columbus?
Now that I’ve been here in Columbus for a few weeks I’ve had a chance to go out and explore the city a little bit. I like it here and the fact that Ohio State is right around the corner makes it even more of a football city which I love. Last week I was able to attend a class at Schoenbaum hall at Ohio State with Fred Whitfield, chief operating officer of the Charlotte Hornets, and Eddie George, 9 year NFL vet and former Ohio State running back, speaking to the class about their stories of how they got to where they are today. That’s why I feel as though there is so much to do in Columbus so I’m excited for the upcoming season. It would be ideal if we could bring an arena championship here to this city as the Columbus Destroyers are finally back in the AFL. So I’m blessed to be able to be a part of this great organization and will do everything I can to help this team win football games! #TheReturn.
In 2015 you made 85 XP 11 tackles and a forced fumble...sure you're a Kicker??
Playing in Tampa Bay for the Storm in 2015 was my first year playing football. I had been with the Ottawa Redblacks of the CFL only in training camp during 2014 but prior to that I had no football experience. For never playing in a game before, my first season with the Storm went very well. I feel as though I’m not an ordinary kicker standing at 6 foot 3 weighing 225 pounds, but I also like to make big plays like hitting game winning field goals, making tackles, forcing fumbles and hitting bar balls. Everyone always counts the kicker out on the kickoff returns but when I’m on the field it’s always 8v8. Making a big tackle on special teams is exhilarating and forcing a fumble can change the momentum of a game.
Difference from NAL to AFL?
Being in the NAL was a bit different last year compared to playing in the AFL. That league had the deuce rule on kickoffs which meant that if you kicked the ball through the uprights your team was awarded 2 points. Essentially it’s a 58 yard field goal off a 1 inch tee. This made the kickers in the league that much more important as you could score a touchdowns worth of points just by hitting deuces throughout a game. I had shattered the previous record of 21 deuces in a single season when I recorded my 30th deuce in the NAL championship game. The only other difference in the kicking game is the NAL doesn’t have the bars and nets along the back of the end zones. I missed the bars because getting a bar ball off of a kickoff can be crucial in turning the game around for your team, so I’m excited to have them back. I can’t wait to get this season started!
By Rob Disario
The return of Massachusetts WR Devonn Brown coupled with the loss of Carolina WR Fabian Guerra made no impact on Saturday’s nightmare in Greensboro. How could that be? you might ask. Unfortunately, Pirate QB Sean Brackett failed to connect to Brown with DB Michael Green breathing down his neck. Add Brackett’s overthrows, missed snaps, interceptions and flags for false starts, the Pirate offense continues its abysmal course into obscurity. One offensive highlight where performances by WR’s Thomas Owens, Mardy Gilyard (2TD) and Lavon Pearson (1TD) who made the game somewhat watchable.
What confused this analyst, was the fact the Pirates made no attempt to alter their offensive approach after a painful first quarter. Albert Einstein once said “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity.” The Pirate play-callers repeatedly tried the “2018 Brackett-to-Brown” long bomb when their focus should have pivoted to their short game. By the third quarter they seemed to learn this, hitting Owens, Gilyard and Brown along the boards for short gains. Quayvon Hicks' running game was again deployed helping keep Cobra defense in check. But at this point it was too late.
Massachusetts’ frustration was clearly visible when OL Mitchell Bell was ejected in the third quarter for a penalty saved for a high school, JV team. The last thing anybody needs is stupid penalties created by frustrated linemen. Alas, the Pirates drop to 0-2 and return home on April 27 to face the 1-1 NAL expansion Orlando Predators. Only time will tell whether the Cobras are really that good, or if the Pirates are really that bad.