The Arena Audit: Week 1
Season kicks off with record setting performances in four blowout wins
After one week in the 2016 Arena Football campaign, a lot of our pre-season thoughts were confirmed. The good teams were good, the bad teams are bad, and the unknowns are still pretty unknown.
Orlando Predators 76 – Tampa Bay Storm 25
The 3,000th game in AFL history featured the games best rivalry as the latest edition of “The War I-4” kicked off in Tampa with the Storm hosting the Orlando Predators, and it ended with the biggest blowout in the series.
After Orlando jumped out to a 27-7 first half lead behind three Randy Hippeard to Greg Carr scoring connections, the largest margin of victory in the 59 editions of the rivalry. Orlando scored every time they have the football including back-to-back defensive scores to start the second half pushing the Preds lead to 48-13 just two minutes into the 3rd quarter.
Hippeard finished 20-30 for 241 yards and six touchdowns, with a pair of Orlando recievers posting 100+ yards led by Carr’s 114 yards and four touchdowns and LaMark Brown’s 105 yards and one score.
Orlando Predators (1-0) – Next Game: Saturday 4/9 vs Portland (0-1)
Tampa Bay Storm (0-1) – Next Game: Saturday 4/9 at Cleveland (0-1)
Philadelphia Soul 69 – Cleveland Gladiators 41
Defense was the name of the game in Cleveland as the Philadelphia Soul flexed their muscles on the Gladiators. Philly sprinted out to a 21-0 lead thanks to a trio of touchdown passes by 2015 AFL MVP Dan Raudabaugh before their defense decided to get in on the scoring.
Soul linebacker Joe Goosby and defensive back Dwayne Hollis each took back interceptions for scores balooning the Philadelphia lead to 35-7 late in the first half. Cleveland responded with a Colin Taylor touchdown grab and a Gladiators pick six by Joe Powell to cut the Philly lead to 42-21 inside of the one minute warning, but Shaun Kauleinamoku reeled in a 32-yard score and defensive back Tracy Belton returned an interception for a score just one second before the halftime buzzer, pushing the Soul lead back to 55-21.
The Gladiators got to within 21 points after Powells second interception return for a touchdown midway through the third quarter, but could not find enough to earn their first victory against Philly in five tries.
Arizona Rattlers 80 – Portland Steel 28
Arizona has not lost to Portland since 1999. Granted, the Arena Football League was not in Oregon from 2000 – 2013, but the fact remains these two franchises are in vastly different atmospheres.
Portland faced a mountain of changes since the seasons end last summer, new coach, new players, even a new name, but even with the different landscape, Arizona looks every bit the team that has played in four of the last five Arena Bowls.
While it took the Rattlers the better part of twenty minutes of game action to look the part, Arizona took advantage of three first half turnovers en route to a 46-21 halftime lead in front of a national television audience on CBS Sports Network.
The second half was not much better for Portland as they managed only one second half score on their way to a 52 home loss.
“Our defense was playing really good,” Rattlers Head Coach Kevin Guy told AZRattlers.com after the game “and our offense was really efficient tonight. We only got stopped once. It was a great team effort.”
LA KISS 64 – Jacksonville Sharks 39
For the second consecutive year, the Jacksonville Sharks drop the season opener on the road. In 2015 Jacksonville lost
51-50 at New Orleans after falling behind 20-0 early in the game, in the 2016 kickoff Jacksonville managed to be tied at 33 at the half only to be done in by three fourth quarter turnovers getting outscored 31-6 in the final 30 minutes of the game.
“I am very appreciative of our players, they came out and played a really good football game,” said nine year AFL veteran defensive back Omarr Smith who earned the win in his first game as head coach of the KISS, “for our first time going against a team in a different uniform, they stepped up, challenged them, and answered the bell.”
Veteran defensive back Rayshaun Kizer led the way for Los Angeles with 6.5 tackles, and interception, and two passes broken up.
1. Nathan Stanley (LAK) – 283 yards
2. Tommy Grady (JAX) – 279 yards
3. Randy Hippeard (ORL) – 241 yards
1. Joe Hills (JAX) – 151 yards
2. Tom Gilson (PDX) – 128 yards
3. Jared Perry (PDX) – 117 yards
1. Chris Dieker (CLE) – 26 yards
2. Chase Deadder (ARI) – 23 yards
3. Rod Windsor (ARI) – 21 yards
t-1. Mykel Benson (ARI) – 24 points
Rod Windsor (ARI) – 24 points
Greg Carr (ORL) – 24 points
All Purpose Yards
1. DJ Stephens (LAK) – 222 yards
2. Gerald Young (TBY) – 177 yards
3. Joe Hills (JAX) – 151 yards
1. Chris Smith (JAX) – 11.5
2. Allen Chapman (ARI) – 10.0
3. Varmah Sonie (ORL) – 7.5
t-1. Damien Borel (ARI) – 2.0
t-1. Luis Vasquez (ARI) – 2.0
3. 7 players tied – 1.0
t-1. Joe Powell (CLE) – 2
Dwayne Hollis (PHL) – 2
Varmah Sonie (ORL) – 2