This Saturday the Maine Mammoths will travel 400 miles to Allentown, Pennsylvania to face off against the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks. With two loses the trunk-equipped land dwellers could really use a “W” to build momentum. The Tusks faced two fierce opponents to start the National Arena League (NAL) season, the currently undefeated Massachusetts Pirates and the Carolina Cobras. But there’s no particular reason why the expansion Mammoths are cursed to lose. The Mammoths showed they’re contenders on the first play of the first possession against the Cobras. Jonathan Bane went deep to Derrick Macon for a 35 yard blamo! touchdown. It was single-handedly the biggest throwing play I’ve seen this season in the NAL. Bane went on to throw for 246 yards and 5 touchdowns. Needless to say this is a team with a big offense.
The Mammoth defense, on the other hand had several blown coverage's and couldn’t stop the Carolina offense from repeatedly marching down the field. Also, their kicking game needs flat-line style CPR. Almost every Mammoth touchdown was followed by a missed extra point. Leaving free points on the table is truly unacceptable at the high NAL level. Fortunately for the Portland team the season is 16 weeks with plenty of room for adjustments.
The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks lost their season opener to the Columbus Lions in week 2 with a depressing score of 50-18. Like the Mammoths, defense was a worm the Steelhawks couldn’t find. Afterward, they signed defensive back Brandon Fuentes, who spent the last couple months with the Albany Empire of the Arena Football League (AFL). Maybe Fuentes is the answer to the Steelhawks defensive woes. But, this is an organization that’s been around for since 2011. First in the Indoor Football League (IFL) then the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) in 2013. Following their championship season the team joined American Indoor Football (AIF) for the 2016 season. Thus, the Steelhawk ownership has been through a roller coaster ride of various leagues, rules and ego’s! Let’s hope the soaring birds have found their NAL nest, and are here to stay.
So, this is a game I’m gonna watch via YouTube on Saturday at 7:05pm. I like the idea of two underrated, regrouping teams battling it out and fighting for survival. Good luck guys, I’ll be rooting for you!