Category Archives: Carolina Cobras

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Carolina Cobras, Billy Back part ways

The National Arena League has been home to the Carolina Cobras and head coach Billy Back for each of the past two indoor football seasons – one of which that saw the expansion team go from rags to riches and win a title in their first year.

Today, the Cobras announced that Back has submitted his resignation from the head coaching position in Carolina, making him available as one of the top available coaches in an off-season that has been filled with moves.

Team owner Rob Storm released a statement that has been posted on the team’s website. The full release can be found here.

“On behalf of the entire Cobras organization, we thank Billy Back for everything he has done for us over our first two seasons, and know that wherever he lands, that team will be getting one heck of a good coach. He will definitely be missed by many,” Storm said in the release. “We wish Billy, Stacie and the entire Back family the best of luck! We know he will be successful wherever his path may lead. You will always be part of the Cobras family.”

Now, Back will take his championship experience to a new home so long as he continues coaching football, and the Indoor Football League could be a spot for a reunion.

Back got his big break coaching for the Wichita Falls Nighthawks when the team was in the IFL and was even originally signed to lead the Cedar Rapids Titans in 2018 before being bought out by Carolina.

I mentioned his name in my column a week ago on where the Iowa Barnstormers – a championship program that just lost their coach as well – will look to next.

Back could be a great fit for the franchise, and no matter where he goes, he’ll bring a barrage of talented players with him.The post Carolina Cobras, Billy Back part ways appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Top 5 Reasons the Jacksonville Sharks will Win the 2019 NAL Championship

Previously, we released our five reasons why the Cobras would win the 2019 NAL Championship game. With the big game getting closer and closer as each second passes, it is time to reveal our five reasons why the Jacksonville Sharks will win the 2019 NAL Championship game.
Top 5 Reasons the Jacksonville Sharks will Win the 2019 NAL Championship
5. Quarterback Toss-up
This one may sound a bit confusing when first seeing it. Like what in the world does a “Quarterback Toss-up” mean? Right now, there is no confirmed starter for the Jacksonville Sharks when it comes to the Quarterback position. In our 2019 NAL Championship Preview, we broke down the numbers for the two quarterbacks combined. Jonathan Bane this season is 160-of-290 (55.17%) for 1,844 yards, 39 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Mike Fafaul is 123-of-183 (67.21%) for 1,319 yards, 35 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. With no confirmed starter, the Cobras don’t know who to primarily focus on. Last playoff game against the Lions, Fafaul was the starter and went down with an injury. Bane went in and lit up the Lions defense. It was almost as if the Lions didn’t prepare for Bane at all. If the Cobras focus on one quarterback more than the other, then there could be issues for the Cobras.
4. League-Leading Defensive Line
The Sharks have the best defensive line in the league, based off of the statistics. Together, their line has forced 31.5 sacks (average of 2.25 per game), nine pass breakups, six quarterback hurries, six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, one blocked kick, and one safety. If the Sharks defensive line can force pressure on Cobras Quarterback Chalres McCullum, then McCullum will make mistakes to benefit the Sharks.
3. Best Receivers in the NAL
The Sharks starting three receivers are also statistically the best in the league. Combined, they have 231 receptions for 2,536 yards and 61 touchdowns. No team in the league this season has been able to shut down all three receivers on the field at the same time. There were some games where they shut down a receiver to slow down the Sharks offense, but there has not been a single occasion where all of the Sharks receivers were stopped.
2. Coaching Staff
This season is Head Coach Siaha Burley’s third season with the Jacksonville Sharks. He led the team to the championship in 2017, a game that he ultimately won. In 2018, his 10-6 record gave his team a trip to the playoffs. Finally, this season’s 13-1 regular season record and 1-0 post-season record sent him and his team to the 2019 NAL Championship game. Burley doesn’t do it all on his own. He also has a great group of coaches along-side of him. Defensive Coordinator James Fuller and Offensive/Defensive Line’s Coach Lee Johnson also help control this team. This coaching staff is a team of Head Coaches, meaning that all three coaches on this team have either been or will be great head coaches in arena football. Last season, Fuller was the Maine Mammoths HC and led his team to one of the largest win-streaks in NAL history. In their final seven games, they managed to win six of them.
1. Home Field Advantage
This one sounds very cliché, but it is very true for Jacksonville. In their 10 seasons, the Sharks have hosted nine playoff games and won seven of them (77.78%). The fanbase that averages over 9,000 per game in 10 years has been known to get rowdy, especially in the playoffs. The arena gets loud during regular season games, but it gets even louder in playoff games. With crazy fans like The Sideline Bullies, The Painted One, and many more, there is no running away from Shark fans, no matter where the players are on the field.

The Jacksonville Sharks host the Carolina Cobras this Saturday, August 17, 2019 in the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena at 7:00 pm for the third NAL Championship. The winner of this game will earn their second NAL title.
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The LWOS Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages is the best place to go for news on anything that happens in the NAL and other indoor and arena leagues. Our website is also a great place to go for more information.The post Top 5 Reasons the Jacksonville Sharks will Win the 2019 NAL Championship appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Top 5 Reasons the Carolina Cobras will Win the 2019 NAL Championship

The National Arena League (NAL) championship game is just over 48 hours away. The players are doing everything they can possibly do to stay healthy and not injure themselves. The Jacksonville Sharks (14-1) host the Carolina Cobras (10-5) this Saturday night at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena at 7:00 pm in the third NAL Championship. The Carolina Cobras are just about ready for battle, which is why we are revealing five reasons why the Carolina Cobras will win the 2019 NAL Championship.
Top 5 Reasons the Carolina Cobras will Win the 2019 NAL Championship
5. Abscence of Cody Saul (Possibly)
Jacksonville Sharks Jack Linebacker Cody Saul is currently suspended by the NAL for running onto the field into an altercation after the Columbus Lions @ Jacksonville Sharks playoff game on August 6. It is unclear as to whether he will play this weekend or not. As of right now, he leads the league in the most tackles this season at 64. In the last four games, Saul has been able to intercept five passes and take three to the house for a touchdown. His efforts not only help the Sharks defense, as he also plays Wide Receiver on the offense. While that wasn’t his primary position this season, Saul still managed to catch 11 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. His dual-threat ability will definitely help the Cobras figure out how they can take down the Sharks. This isn’t really anything that the Cobras can do to change the outcome of the game, but it’s definitely something that they can take advantage of.
4. Late Season Motivation
The Cobras won the championship last year and it seemed to carry over to this season as well since they dominated teams late in the season. They performed two complete shutout games. While it was against the Orlando Predators (2-12) both times, it is still almost impossible to completely shut out a team in football, let alone, arena football. Against the New York Streets, they put on a 46-0 shut out before they had to forfeit the game due to a security breach. This ball that they have rolling definitely transferred into the playoffs as they got by the Pirates with hardly any issues in the second half of the game.
3. Clicking Offense
Charles McCullum and Co. had a rough start to the season, losing their main receiving group. The only receiver to stay from last season is Jordan Jolly. This year, Jolly put up record-breaking numbers. He caught 104 passes for 1,210 yards and 31 touchdowns (all three of which are either tied or broken records). Thankfully for the Cobras, they were able to trade for a deadly receiver in Lavon Pearson with the Massachusetts Pirates. Pearson helped the Pirates go to the playoffs last season and did a great job with the Cobras this season. He caught 45 passes for 586 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Cobras lost one of their best Offensive Lineman earlier this season. Joe Harris was a key part in the Cobras success, but the Cobras were able to make the necessary changes to make everything work. It all went as planned since they made it to the championship game.
2. Last Year’s Dominance Transferring to This Year
The Cobras had the best team last season even though their record didn’t really show it. In the playoffs, they were a completely different team than they were in the post-season. They smacked the Jacksonville Sharks and won by almost 30 points and put a beating on the Columbus Lions with a 66-8 score, which is probably going to be the worst NAL championship game ever when it comes to point differential. Knowing that the players and coaches have the ability to do this, they are going to follow through with it. During the first playoff game this season, the Cobras had a slow start, but eventually held the Massachusetts Pirates to not a single touchdown in the second half. Obviously the Cobras won as they put up a 30-26 close game.
1. Defense Wins Championships
The Carolina Cobras have the best defense in the NAL at the moment. They beat the Sharks in just about every defensive category. They don’t have as many turnovers as the Sharks, they don’t allow as many yards, first downs, points, or even wins, but they sure do know how to stop their opponents. This top-defense will have their chance to hush the doubters this Saturday and prove that they can carry this Cobras team to their second consecutive title. This Cobras 2019 NAL Championship game could be one of the best games that the league has seen.
More Exciting News to Come!
Later today, we will reveal the Top Five Reasons why the Jacksonville Sharks will win the 2019 NAL Championship. Tomorrow, we will reveal the Official NAL awards shortly after they come out. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and our Indoor Football website to stay up to date on everything.The post Top 5 Reasons the Carolina Cobras will Win the 2019 NAL Championship appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Cobras visit Jacksonville for 2019 NAL Championship

The third National Arena League (NAL) Championship is almost underway as the number one Jacksonville Sharks (14-1) host the number two Carolina Cobras (10-5). The winner of this game will win the 2019 NAL championship, The winner of this game will also win their second NAL Championship since the Sharks won in 2017 and the Cobras won last year in 2018. Last season, the first playoff game between the two was a blowout in the Cobras favor. They won 73-48 to advance to the 2018 NAL Championship. This year, the league and both teams hope for a closer game.
Cobras visit Jacksonville for 2019 NAL Championship
On paper, these two teams are very close to each other, which means that this game should go down to who has the ball last. Both offenses are top-notch in the league as well as the defenses. This 2019 Championship game could be the closest final game that the NAL will have in a very long time.
Offensive Matchup
While it is unclear as to who is the starting quarterback for the Sharks is, there is no doubt that both of their quarterbacks have great talent in arena football. Together, both Jonathan Bane and Mike Fafaul had a combined 283-of-473 (59.83%) for 3,163 yards, 74 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions in the regular season. Charles McCullum, on the other hand, is 232-of-394 (58.88%) for 2,883 yards, 66 touchdowns, and 15 touchdowns.

The Sharks top the Cobras in Scoring Offense (57.5-51.4), Total Offense (244.4-230.8 ypg), Total Offensive Touchdowns (99-89), Rushing Offense (21.3-17.9 ypg), Rushing Touchdowns (25-20), Pass Efficiency (104.2-103.3), Passing Offense (223.1-212.9 ypg), Passing Touchdowns (74-69), Interceptions Thrown (17-18), First Down Rushing (34-26), First Down Passing (169-167), Third Down Conversions (46%-40.3%). Fourth Down Conversions (38.2%-27.3%), Allowed Sacks (11-24).

The Cobras have the Sharks beat in the following Offensive Categories: Average Yards Per Play (6.2-5.8), Yards Per Completion (11.8-11), First Downs (239-237), and Red Zone Offense (84.3%-82%).
Defensive Matchup
The Sharks and Cobras have very similar defenses and are very close on the stats in just about every category. The Sharks defense has the Cobras beat in the number of interceptions (36-28), Interception Return Yards (288-173), Interceptions Returned for a Touchdown (6-3), fumble recoveries (14-13), Opponent Third Down Conversions (26.7%-27.7%), Opponent Fourth Down Conversions (32.7%-39.6%), and Sacks (40-36).

The Cobras defense has the Sharks beat in a lot of categories, which is very interesting because the Sharks have the Cobras beat in the majority of the offensive categories. The high-powered offense will go up against the high-powered defense, and the same thing goes for the Cobras offense versus the Sharks defense.

The Cobras have the Sharks beat in Scoring Defense (31.1-33.9 ppg), Total Defense (181.6-190.1 ypg), Rushing Defense (15.9-19.3 ypg), Defensive Pass Efficiency (95.4-95.9), Pass Defense (165.6-170.9), Fumble Return Average (20.2-4), and Fumbles Returned for a Touchdown (4-2).
Special Teams Matchup
If the game went down to the final kick of the game, whether it was a PAT or Deuce, it is looking like the Sharks would be able to win in that case. The Sharks have the Cobras topped in PAT percentage. Sharks Kicker Brandon Behr is 94-of-107 on PAT’s (87.85%). Cobras Kicker Brandon Rutherford is 39-of-46 on PAT’s (84.78%). Both numbers are really great and are the highest in the league.

Where the Cobras barely get the Sharks is the Field Goal percentages. Behr, this season, is 1-of-6 on Field Goals (16.67%) whereas Rutherford is 1-of-5 (20%). Both percentages are really low, but it is also uncommon to find a kicker in arena football to nail every field goal through the nine foot wide goalpost.

The deuces is where the Sharks change the game. Behr has made a total of 25 this season, counting post-season (23 in the regular season). Rutherford had a shorter season than Behr, but still managed to make six.

Behr averages almost two deuces a game and about seven PAT’s a game, which puts up an average of almost 11 points per game, which makes a major difference between a winner and a loser in arena football.
Final Conclusion
The Sharks offense has proven that they are the best in the league, as they are statistically better than the Cobras in just about every category. The Cobras defense, to counter that, is statistically the better defense between the two teams. Like mentioned earlier, the top offense going against the top defense will be one worth watching.

On the other side of things, the Cobras offense is still a great group. If they weren’t, then they wouldn’t play in this game. The only issue that the Cobras could have is turnovers. The Sharks defense may allow more yards and a higher percentage on third and fourth down, but the turnovers that the Sharks force is much more significant than the Cobras. Forcing eight more interceptions and receiving one more fumble than the Cobras all season could be the difference in the game between who wins this game.

Of course, we can’t forget about the kickers. Later in the season, the Sharks have been able to score more touchdowns, which means that Behr’s PAT percentage is boosted. If the game is back and fourth and could be determined by who misses the game-winning PAT, there is no telling who is going to miss that game-winner because both kickers have over an 80% PAT average.
More Exciting Pieces to Come
Since the championship game is getting closer, we are bringing more content to NAL fans and indoor football fans. Tomorrow, we will reveal our Top Five Reasons why the Cobras will win the Championship as well as the Top Five Reasons why the Jacksonville Sharks will win the Championship game.

After that, we will release the official 2019 NAL Awards as they are released to the public. Be sure to check out Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and our Indoor Football website to stay updated on what is to come.The post Cobras visit Jacksonville for 2019 NAL Championship appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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2019 LWOS NAL First and Second Team All-NAL Announced

The National Arena League (NAL) Championship is just days away. This means that the First and Second Team All-NAL awards are going to be released within the next day or so. Up first, we are announcing our 2019 LWOS NAL First and Second Team All-NAL players.
2019 LWOS NAL First and Second Team All-NAL Announced
First Team All-NAL Offense
Quarterback: Charles McCullum, Carolina Cobras – 232-of-394 (58.89%) for 2,883 yards, 66 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions
Wide Receiver: Devin Wilson, Jacksonville Sharks – 102 receptions for 1,179 yards and 29 touchdowns
Wide Receiver: Jordan Jolly, Carolina Cobras – 104 receptions for 1,210 yards and 31 touchdowns
Wide Receiver: Bones Bagaunte, Columbus Lions – 99 receptions, 995 yards, 29 touchdowns
Fullback: Alstevis Squirewell, Jacksonville Sharks – 51 rushes, 163 yards, 9 touchdowns
Offensive Lineman: Chad Kolumber, Carolina Cobras
Center: Derrick Zeigler, Jacksonville Sharks
Offensive Lineman: Jabari Buckley, Jacksonville Sharks
First Team All-NAL Defense:
Defensive End: Nick Woodman, Jacksonville Sharks – 39 tackles (15 TFL), 12.5 sacks, 7 pass breakups, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries
Nose Tackle: Toby Johnson, Massachusetts Pirates – 13.5 tackles (8.5 TFL), 7 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 pass breakups
Defensive End: JD Griggs, Massachusetts Pirates – 26.5 tackles, (12 TFL), 9.5 sacks, 5 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Mac Linebacker: Zack Brown, Jacksonville Sharks – 31 tackles (13 TFL), 7.5 sacks, 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 forced safety
Jack Linebacker: Cody Saul, Jacksonville Sharks – 64 tackles, (3.5 TFL), 8 interceptions (3 returned for touchdowns), 4 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries
Defensive Back: Seth Ellis, Jacksonville Sharks – 44.5 tackles (1 TFL), 13 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown), 25 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble
Defensive Back: Michael Green, Carolina Cobras – 62 tackles (3 TFL), 1.5 sacks, 10 interceptions, 34 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries
Defensive Back: Laurence Austin, Massachusetts Pirates – 63 tackles, (0.5 TFL), 10 interceptions, 23 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble
First Team All-NAL Special Teams:
Kicker: Brandon Behr, Jacksonville Sharks – 94-of-107 PAT (87.85%), 1-of-6 FG (16.67%), 23 deuces
Kick Returner: Tony Goodman, Jacksonville Sharks – 15 kick returns, 401 yards, 2 touchdowns
Second Team All-NAL Offense:
Quarterback: Sean Brackett, Massachusetts Pirates – 244-of-396 (61.62%) for 2,523 yards, 57 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions
Fullback: Quayvon Hicks, Massachusetts Pirates – 39 rushes, 155 yards, 6 touchdowns
Wide Receiver: Mardy Gilyard, Massachusetts Pirates – 84 receptions, 950 yards, 29 touchdowns
Wide Receiver: Rob Jones, New York Streets – 65 receptions, 859 yards, 20 touchdowns
Wide Receiver: Paris Mack, Columbus Lions – 50 receptions, 871 yards, 14 touchdowns
Offensive Lineman: Aundrey Walker, Columbus Lions
Center: Thomas Claiborne, Massachusetts Pirates
Offensive Lineman: Mike Williams, Jacksonville Sharks
Second Team All-NAL Defense:
Defensive Lineman: Steve Miller, Carolina Cobras – 36 tackles (13 TFL), 9 sacks, 4 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 forced safeties
Nose Tackle: Bill Vavau, Carolina Cobras – 10 tackles (6.5 TFL), 1.5 sacks, 1 pass breakup, 3 blocked kicks
Defensive Lineman: Jonathan Taylor, Jacksonville Sharks – 15 tackles (8 TFL), 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 forced safety
Mac Linebacker: Shawn Loiseau, Massachusetts Pirates – 13.5 tackles (4 TFL), 3 sacks, 1 interception, 1 pass breakup, 1 forced fumble
Jack Linebacker: Kavika Luafatasaga, Massachusetts Pirates – 39 tackles, (2.5 TFL), 5 interceptions, 7 pass breakups
Defensive Back: Chucky Williams, Massachusetts Pirates – 51.5 tackles (2 TFL), 11 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery
Defensive Back: Markus Smith, Jacksonville Sharks – 50 tackles (1 TFL), 8 interceptions (2 returned for touchdowns), 14 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Defensive Back: Dallas Jackson, Orlando Predators – 38 tackles (1 TFL), 3 interceptions, 19 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries
Second Team All-NAL Special Teams:
Kicker: Mike Weaver, Massachusetts Pirates – 54-of-65 PAT (83.08%), 5-of-11 FG (45.45%), 11 deuces
Kick Returner: Cedric Poole, Carolina Cobras – 17 kick returns, 311 yards, 1 touchdown
Follow Us on Social Media!
Now that we have released our First and Second All-NAL Teams, up next is the NAL Championship Preview tomorrow. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and out Indoor Football website to stay up-to-date on everything that is happening.The post 2019 LWOS NAL First and Second Team All-NAL Announced appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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2019 LWOS NAL Honorable Mentions

The 2019 LWOS National Arena League (NAL) awards have come to a conclusion as we announced all of our NAL selections for each award. There were multiple players who stood out this season that don’t deserve to go unnoticed. All players and coaches fought until the end for the 2019 season and it all showed. Michael Green, Chris Sanders-McCollom, and Jason Gibson are going down as our LWOS Honorable Mentions for the 2019 season.
2019 LWOS NAL Honorable Mentions
Defensive Back Michael Green, Carolina Cobras
Up there with our Defensive Player of the Year was Green. All season long, Green served to be one of the best defensive backs in the league, and proved that he is worthy of being in the top two or three. This season, Green finished with an incredible 10 interceptions for 81 yards and one touchdown. He also had 62 tackles, just two shy of the league-leader in 2019. Green also broke up 34 passes, forced two fumbles, and recovered two fumbles on the year.
Wide Receiver Chris Sanders-McCollom, Columbus Lions
Sanders-McCollom was on his way to become the best Lions receiver in 2019 until a late-season injury popped up and took him down until the playoffs. In his 10 games with the Lions, Sanders-McCollom totaled 59 receptions for 654 yards and 17 touchdowns. In the same amount of games, Paris Mack was able to have nine less receptions for 871 yards and 14 touchdowns (217 more yards).
Head Coach Jason Gibson, Columbus Lions
Gibson entered the 2019 season going back-to-back in NAL Championship appearances. In 2019, Gibson looked to make a third consecutive visit to the game. Having a 2-5 start to the season, Gibson was able to get things rolling and finish with a 6-8 record. Things started to click with the Lions late in the season as they had a healthy team for the first week all season. But then, Center AJ Harmon went down with a season-ending injury. Gibson had to figure something out quick before the playoffs started. Every game against Jacksonville, no matter where it’s played, is always a close game. The Lions just needed that one piece to the puzzle to defeat Jacksonville. Entering the playoffs with a fully-healthy receiving group, the Lions were in high-hopes that their O-Line could keep the Sharks D-Line off the quarterback. Falling short in the playoffs, Gibson’s season came to a close. Finishing the season with a three-game win streak is definitely something to look back on.
LWOS NAL First and Second Team All-NAL Up Next!
The NAL Honorable Mentions is a wrap for all of the individual LWOS awards for the 2019 season. Later today, we will announce our First and Second Team All-NAL awards. The league will release all of their awards during Media Day on Friday, August 16.The post 2019 LWOS NAL Honorable Mentions appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Rebuilding a Rivalry: Jacksonville Sharks and Orlando Predators

Rivalries are meant to last forever, or at least a very long time. That is why the Orlando Predators have returned to the arena football business. Them and the Jacksonville Sharks look to hook back up this weekend and continue their great rivalry. Things were started in the Arena Football League (AFL) and are continuing in the National Arena League (NAL).
Rebuilding a Rivalry: Jacksonville Sharks and Orlando Predators
The Sharks enter this week with a 3-1 record and are tied with the Carolina Cobras and New York Streets for first place. The Predators are in fifth place with a 1-4 record, but had a very close, but good game against the Streets last week, falling short 53-54 with just seconds on the clock.

Brandon Russell and Connor Ferguson collaborated to remember a pair of Jacksonville-Orlando matchups from their lifetimes to remember what was once and what could be again a great rivalry.
Brandon’s Flashback
One of the most memorable games between these two is, quite ironically, the final meeting between the two. The Sharks made the quick trip to Orlando to take on the Predators in the first playoff game of the year. The Sharks came into this week as underdogs with a 7-9 record and an interim head coach while the Predators were looking strong at 12 wins and only four losses.

In the course of the game, the Sharks never saw the lead until 10:53 to go in the third quarter. From there, it was a back and forth scoring battle. In the fourth quarter, the Sharks were up 61-55 with just seconds to go in regulation. The Predators pulled a quick one and scored right as time ran out. Before the PAT, everything was all tied up at 61. Orlando felt good about their odds, sending out a victory tweet on Twitter. They missed the PAT, which sent this dramatic game into overtime.

Orlando received the ball to start OT and scored in less than five minutes. In arena football, both teams get the chance to score. This gave Jacksonville the chance to score and keep their playoff hopes alive. In a time of three minutes and 18 seconds, the Sharks scored a touchdown on a goal-line run from Fullback Derrick Ross. Interim Head Coach Bob Landsee had a difficult decision to make: Point After Touchdown or 2-Point Conversion Attempt? The city of Jacksonville is known as “The Bold City”, so Landsee decided to go for two. A very gutsy call was made to run the ball, even though Orlando knew what was going to happen. Ross got the ball and gave it his all, bulldozing right through the offensive and defensive lines to convert on the 2-point attempt.
Connor’s Flashback
I remember coming home from a hockey game when I was a young kid to turn on the TV and see an Arena Football League game. I was about 12 years old so the memory of it is a bit blurry, but I remember watching Aaron Garcia and the Predators take on Jacksonville in the 2010 playoffs.

It was the Barnstormers first year back in the league, but Garcia and that Predators team was one of – if not – my favorite to watch.

The pair of teams scored 60 points combined in the fourth quarter including 31 from the Predators as they escaped with a 73-69 win in Jacksonville.

Like I said, I don’t remember a ton from the game, but my family and I watched it in our living room. The only reason my Mom let me keep it on the TV was because of how great of a game it was and because she could tell neither of the teams liked each other all that much.

Hopefully, this Saturday when the teams match up for the first time as NAL franchises, we will get half as good of games as we’ve seen in this series in the past. That game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be live streamed on YouTube. As always, we’ll have updates on twitter at @LWOS_IndoorFB.The post Rebuilding a Rivalry: Jacksonville Sharks and Orlando Predators appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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NAL Week 4: A Miraculous Cobras Victory

Week Four of the National Arena League (NAL) wrapped up last Saturday night as three games went on all night. There was a close game and some not-so-close games.
NAL Week 4: A Miraculous Cobras Victory
The game that everyone was waiting for was the battle of the two remaining undefeated teams. The Carolina Cobras hosted the New York Streets and did not disappoint.
New York @ Carolina
Coming into this week, both teams were undefeated, but the Cobras had one major concern hanging over themselves.

Quarterback Charles McCullum was suspended a game because of him being ejected from a game.

Thankfully for Carolina, they had plenty of time to find a quarterback since they were entering their Bye Week.

The team ended up trading for Quarterback Patrick McCain, who eventually refused to report. After that, they traded McCain back to Orlando and picked up Adrian McPherson, bringing him out of retirement.

Both quarterbacks refused to report for Carolina on game week, leaving the team in a little bit of a panic to find a quarterback.

Just days before the game, they signed former Lehigh Valley Steelhawks Quarterback Matt Foltz, who had a solid game, but didn’t play good enough to finish.

With Foltz unable to finish the game, this put Jordan Jolly as the remaining starter. He did a solid job, throwing 9-of-17 (52.94%) for 98 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.

The Streets, on the other hand, had Quarterback EJ Nemeth throw 25-of-44 for 251 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions.

The Cobras ended up winning that game with a 48-33 score. If Nemeth wouldn’t have thrown those four interceptions, the game likely would’ve had a much different outcome.
Orlando Predators @ Columbus Lions
The Jungle Wars continued last weekend, but this time was in Columbus, GA.

The Lions showed no mercy against the Predators, racking up the score to ensure the victory 63-22.

Quarterback Luke Collis for Columbus played lights out, completing 15 passes on 25 attempts for 169 yards, five touchdowns, and only one interception. BJ Hall, the Predators starter ended up not finishing the game due to a lack of performance.

He was 15-of-26 for 153 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. His stats are very similar to Collis’ stats, except for those three interceptions. Garry Chouloute finished 5-of-8 for 25 yards.

The Lions were the only winless team, but they crawled out of that hole after a dominating victory over the Predators to show who really owns The Jungle.

Now the only determining factor is who will win on the road? The winner of that game should take the rights of “The Jungle”.
Jacksonville Sharks @ Massachusetts Pirates
The Jacksonville Sharks left the Bye Week with a promising victory over the Columbus Lions to advance to a 1-1 record. The Pirates also won their first game against the Orlando Predators.

The Pirates looked like their 2018 selves against the Pirates but failed to look the same way against the Sharks… unless you take into consideration that Jacksonville beat Massachusetts two out of three times last season.

Quarterback Jonathan Bane ended up winning the Week Four Player of the Week, completing 24 passes on 34 attempts for 223 yards and six touchdowns. Bane also rushed for one additional touchdown.

The Sharks advanced to a 2-1 record and will host the undefeated Carolina Cobras, who are now 3-0 this Saturday in Jacksonville, FL.The post NAL Week 4: A Miraculous Cobras Victory appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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NAL: Bad vs. Worst; Only One Wins

Two of the worst teams in the National Arena League (NAL) are ready to kick off Week 3 of the NAL season.

The Massachusetts Pirates (0-2) host the Orlando Predators (1-1), who had the worst game in the NAL this season. What can they do to bounce back? What must be done for the Pirates to seal their first victory of the season?
NAL: Bad vs. Worst; Only One Wins
Who: Orlando Predators @ Massachusetts Pirates

When: Saturday, April 27 at 7:00 pm (E.T.)

Where: DCU Center, Worcester, Massachusetts

The worst-ranked team in the league hosts a struggling 1-1 team this week. The Massachusetts Pirates look to get their first win of the season while the Orlando Predators need to dig themselves out of a hole after a Week Two embarrassment.
Pirates Sketchy Offense
2018 NAL MVP, Sean Brackett enters Week Three with a huge monkey on his back, as the Pirates have been held to a franchise low of 22 points in their first two weeks, having an 0-2 record, and throwing 32-of-68 for 288 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions. Those aren’t exactly MVP numbers, so what is going on with this offense?

First off, the Pirates lost their top receiver, Bones Bagaunte, to the Columbus Lions. Bagaunte shredded the league last season with 54 receptions for 524 yards and an impressive 14 touchdowns. Lavon Pearson, Mardy Gilyard, and Devonn Brown all have returned from last season, and were the top three receivers for the Pirates last year, but they aren’t seeing nearly the numbers they are used to. There is only one group of people to blame for this: The Offensive Line. Before getting into how bad the Pirates O-Line has been so far this season, we must remember that O-Linemen Cornelius Lewis and Fred Ruff have left for the Arena Football League (AFL). All of this happened well before the season kicked off, so the team knew what they needed to do and who to get for this season, but have still failed to do so.

Not only is the Pirates O-Line playing sub-par, they have starting lineman Mitch Bell suspended during this game for multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on him against the Carolina Cobras last week. With a struggling line and a suspension, this has “DANGER” written all over it. Don’t be surprised if the Pirates give up the game simply because Brackett doesn’t have enough time to throw the ball.
Unsure Defense
Allowing 54 and 50 points respectively is not necessarily a bad thing in arena football. That is typically an average score for most arena leagues. This means that the Pirates defense is doing what they need to do in order to give their offense some sort of chance. They have forced only two turnovers, which is their main area of concern. Their defensive line hasn’t touched the quarterback a single time this season, which is another area of concern.

If the Pirates don’t want to be looked at as a team like the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, Corpus Christi Rage, or even Dayton Wolfpack, they have to get their stuff together, and it all starts now, when it should’ve started two weeks ago. Not a single team in the NAL has made the playoffs after an 0-2 start to the season. Some have become close, such as the Maine Mammoths last year, but close and almost doesn’t mean anything in football.
Sticky Quarterback Situation
The Predators look solid on offense. They don’t look great, but they definitely don’t look bad. They have great receivers who find ways to get open, but can’t seem to do anything. Both quarterbacks looked strong, yet sloppy at the same time last week in New York. Starting QB Kyle Israel was 16-of-27 for 245 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions before getting benched by QB Gary Chouloute. He ended the night 4-of-9 for 51 yards and one touchdown. Neither quarterback looked impressive, but those numbers look pretty good, except they don’t matter when you can’t put points up on the board. The run game was not existent for the Preds until Chouloute entered the game and rushed for 27 yards, the most rushing yards a player had in the entire NAL last week. Nevertheless, the Preds have a sticky situation at the QB position.
Unpredictable Defense
The Predators looked like they missed the flight from Orlando to New York. It was all non-existent, allowing 70 points, the most of any team this year. They forced no interceptions last week and only got to the quarterback twice. This will not win a single game in arena football.
Conclusion and “Winner”
Both teams look like the worst teams in the league right now. The Columbus Lions may be 0-2 right now, but at least they somewhat put up a fight last week and stayed in the game, unlike the Pirates and Predators last week.

Both teams have no defense and can’t do much on offense. If it comes down to an offensive battle, the experience that Massachusetts has will win them the game. If it comes down to which defense will step it up, there is no telling who would win that one, which is why the Pirates should be able to travel the length of the field on numerous occasions this week and bring home their first win of the season.The post NAL: Bad vs. Worst; Only One Wins appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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NAL: Suspensions and Fines to Follow Week 2 Action

Week Two of the National Arena League (NAL) concluded on Saturday night. The New York Streets (2-0) defeated the Orlando Predators (1-1) 70-31 and the Carolina Cobras (2-0) defeated the Massachusetts Pirates (0-2) 50-22.

The night before, the Jacksonville Sharks (1-1) also moved past the Columbus Lions (0-2) 48-24 in the standings. Things got chippy all over the league, which resulted in multiple ejections.
NAL: Suspensions and Fines to Follow Week 2 Action
Friday Night Lights
The Sharks controlled just about every 60 minutes of the game with some minor mistakes that would allow the Lions to come back and make it a game.

However, the Lions never came within one score of the Sharks after the second half started. This caused some heated moments, as the Sharks and Lions already have a big rivalry going on.

With 2:50 to go in the game, Defensive Back Seth Ellis intercepted a pass and returned it to the Columbus one-yard line. A Jacksonville Pass Interference would wipe away the turnover, giving the Lions the ball back.

After the play,  Lions Wide Receiver Bones Bagaunte allowed tempers to flare and charged at Sharks DB Robert Brown. This ultimately led to Bagaunte being ejected from the game, letting any hopes of the Lions comeback down the drain.

Bagaunte’s suspension hurts the Lions tremendously. He averages 12 receptions for 104 yards and three touchdowns per game this season.
Cobras and Pirates get Chippy All Night
The Cobras dominated all game and showed no signs of slowing down in their 50-22 victory over the Pirates.

Just like the first game of the week, tempers flared in this one. Down 9-34 with just over five minutes left in the game, Offensive Lineman Mitch Bell for Massachusetts was penalized three times in a span of 12 seconds, leading to his ejection.

Shoving three players and getting in their faces surely doesn’t look good on him, nor the Pirates organization.

The already struggling O-Line for Massachusetts was hurting even more without Bell’s presence.

Not only were they struggling before his ejection, visiting teams don’t take the whole roster on away games, which likely meant that the Pirates needed to put someone outside of O-Line as an O-Lineman for the remainder of the game.

Bell’s ejection was not the only ejection of the night, as Cobras Quarterback Charles McCullum got mouthy with officials.

His first penalty was with 23.9 seconds to go in the game. It is unclear as to what he said, but he broke the huddle with his helmet off and started chirping at the officials.

Just seconds after that penalty, he picked up the ball, handed it to the ref, and pointed at the field, instructing the official as to where the ball should go and seemed like he was telling them how to do their job.
End Result of These Ejections?
According to sources, there is a new rule in the NAL this season when it comes to ejections; that rule states that if a player gets ejected or disqualified from a game, they must serve a suspension the following game.

This incident originally took place last season, as former Lions Wide Receiver Jarmon Fortson was ejected and suspended a game. The league reviewed the situation and lifted the suspension.

The Pirates host the Orlando Predators this week and then host the Sharks the following week. According to this rule, Bell would not be allowed to play against Orlando, but would be allowed to return against Jacksonville.

Unfortunately for Bagaunte and McCullum, they both have a Bye this week.

The Lions host the Predators in Week Four, but Bagaunte won’t be able to return to the field until their Week Five matchup against the Pirates.

The Cobras host the Streets in a huge Week Four game, except McCullum wouldn’t be allowed to play. The Cobras travel to Jacksonville, FL for a Week Five game against the Sharks. That game, McCullum can return to the field.

There is no telling as to whether there will be fines associated with these ejections, but a small fine should be implemented if the league wants to be serious about the rules and how games should be played. Regardless, something should be done or else the players won’t take it seriously and will start drama again.The post NAL: Suspensions and Fines to Follow Week 2 Action appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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