Category Archives: Columbus Lions

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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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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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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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NAL: The First Clash of Expansion Teams

In our third Week Two matchup, we have a clash between two expansion teams as the Orlando Predators (1-0) take on the New York Streets (1-0).

The Streets are on fire, defeating the Jacksonville Sharks in Week One with a 52-41 score; a score of which hardly anybody expected.
NAL: The First Clash of Expansion Teams
Both teams have won their very first game in franchise history in the NAL. Both were closer games, but were still victories at the end of the day. Which one will come up victorious this weekend?
League-Leading Streets Offense
The Streets are the home team this week and have that New York fanbase behind them. After a victory in their first week against the Sharks, who are celebrating their 10th season as a franchise, the Streets climbed from dead last to the top two in the NAL leaderboard. They dominated everything last week, which will help them stay on track this week instead of having the blues after a week one loss.

Sure, it may only be week two, but the Streets have the league-leader in receiving yards. Wide Receiver Rob Jones had eight receptions for 155 yards and one touchdown.

Starting Quarterback Dave Legree was inactive, but that didn’t stop New York, as backup QB EJ Nemeth was 15-of-26 (57.69%) for 208 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.

If Nemeth is the starter this week, the Streets have absolutely nothing to worry about. If Legree ends up becoming the starter, it will be interesting to see what he can do on the field and who the Streets will end up rolling with for the rest of the season.
Pass-Rush Defense
The Streets may have only sacked the quarterback one time last week, but their Defensive Line did a great job of getting close to the QB and forcing him to overthrow his receivers or even throw the ball into the crowd.

The D-Line statistically didn’t have a great game, but that doesn’t matter when they are “doing their job” by forcing the quarterback to make a split-second decision that he may or may not regret.

For the Defensive Backs, they had a slow start, but eventually got into a rhythm, shutting down just about every receiver as the game went on.

To start the game, they left every single receiver open, which is why the Streets were down 9-14 at the end of the first quarter. After adjusting their defensive backs a little bit, they limited WR Jarmon Fortson’s catches to almost nothing as well as Chris Gilchrist and Cody Saul. The only receiver they had an issue with was Devin Wilson, as they allowed him to make 11 catches for 140 yards as well as a touchdown.

If the DB’s do their job this week and shut down the receivers like they did last week, they will be golden against Orlando, who doesn’t have nearly as many talented receivers as Jacksonville.
Fast-Paced Orlando Offense
Last week against the Lions, the Predators had a slow start, but finished the game at rapid fire. After halftime, the game was score after score after score.

They ended up defeating the Lions by two points and showing them who the real jungle belonged to. Will that same offense show up to New York against the Streets scary defense?

With Quarterback Kyle Israel throwing to Wide Receivers Rob Brown and Keith DeVeaux, both with NAL experience, it will be interesting to see what kind of day New York’s DB’s will have this weekend. Playing one good wide receiver is tough, but managable; but playing two good receivers makes it just that much tougher.
Closing Prediction
The Streets are on their A-Game right now and are on top of the world, but they can’t keep that mindset because there is tons of football to play. Even though they defeated one of the oldest teams in the NAL, they can’t think they are the best because they beat the “best”. That is exactly what Jacksonville thought last week because they are completely stacked on offense. We all know how that game ended up.

On the other hand, the Predators must keep fighting. Their win was a quiet one in the league since their YouTube stream was taken down for copyright reasons as well as no stats for their game yet. The Predators must force turnovers on defense, especially with their DB’s, such as Dallas Jackson and Robert Brown, who both killed the league last year.

When it comes down to who will win, the Streets should be able to kick Orlando out and show that the Streets are worthy of being 2-0. This should definitely not get to them, like mentioned before because that will destroy this game. A team’s season is not decided by just one game.The post NAL: The First Clash of Expansion Teams appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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NAL: Massachusetts Pirates to Redeem Themselves in Week Two

The National Arena League (NAL) is just about set for Week Two action in the 2019 season tomorrow with the Jacksonville Sharks (0-1) and the Columbus Lions (0-1) going head-to-head on Friday night. The following night, the Massachusetts Pirates (0-1) look to redeem themselves against the Carolina Cobras (1-0). Last week wasn’t all sunshine for the Pirates, putting up 22 points on the Cobras and allowing 54 points.
NAL: Pirates to Redeem Themselves in Week Two
It is not very common that there are back-to-back games where the same two teams play each other without a Bye Week in between.

The NAL this season has a handful of these matchups throughout the course of the season, so this won’t be a rare sight this year.

This time, the game is in Greensboro, NC. This could turn very ugly for the Massachusetts Pirates because the home team is typically the one who has the advantage.

Last week, the Pirates already got their “home field advantage”, but didn’t capitolize on it. Could the tables turn this week or will this game have the same result?
Pirates Nightmare
The Massachusetts Pirates offense looked really slow and seemed bothered by the Cobras defense last week, only tossing the ball for 138 yards in the air.

The running game was fairly okay, especially for the Pirates, who are pass-heavy to begin with, but nothing really impressed anybody. It could just be a Week One slump and they could quickly get over that speedbump, but it is extremely tough to turn everything around in just a week.

The Pirates defense didn’t put many good statistics on the board either. Just a slow day in the office. If they continue to play like this, they will find themselves on thin ice before we know it and could be in jeopardy of not making the playoffs here early, especially with the league having talent all over.

For the Pirates to win, they must throw the Cobras off guard and pull out just about every hat trick they have in store. Perhaps they were saving their best plays or styles for this week. Only time will tell.
Cobras Domination
The Cobras seemed to sneak back up at the very top of the leaderboard after last week’s dominating performance against the Pirates. Putting up 54 points, throwing for 248 yards, and forcing turnovers and sacks will almost guarantee a victory. We say “almost” because nothing is guaranteed in arena football, as we learned last week in Jacksonville.

Obviously, to win games, teams must start real strong and be able to finish. This Cobras team last week looked like they could’ve gone a full 120 minutes before showing signs of slowing down.

They were moving the ball with ease and had almost no mistakes last week. The great news is that they are facing the same team again, which means they are able to put up the same beating if Massachusetts allows it.

The only downfall to this Cobras team is the kicking situation. Last year, the Cobras had Craig Peterson, who was picked up by the Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League (AFL).

This left Carolina in a scramble to find a kicker with just days before kickoff. They found South Carolina Native Nick Belcher to take over the kicking duties. Belcher nailed a drop-kick and a deuce last week, but missed five of six PAT’s, an All-Time NAL record. If this continues, the Cobras might be making a business decision to let Belcher go.

Thankfully for the Cobras, one or two points wasn’t the determining factor of who won the game last week, and likely won’t be how this game will be decided as well. They should be able to handle the Pirates this weekend.

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NAL: Sharks in High Hopes to Break History in Columbus

The Jacksonville Sharks (0-1) travel to Columbus, GA to take on the Columbus Lions (0-1) in a National Arena League Week Two matchup. Both teams are coming off of heartbreaking losses to expansion teams, but only one will be able to redeem themselves this week. The Sharks have some bad history in Columbus that they will look to try to erase this week.
Sharks in High Hopes to Break History This Week
Who: Jacksonville Sharks @ Columbus Lions
When: Friday, April 19, 2019 at 7:00 pm (E.T.)
Where: Columbus Civic Center, Columbus, GA

The Sharks and Lions both enter this week with 0-1 records. Some good news is that one of these teams will walk out with a win or a very rare tie. The Sharks, however, don’t have history on their side. They have not won a single game in Columbus since the inaugural 2017 NAL season. That was when the Sharks defeated the Lions on March 17, 2017 with a 56-41 score.

Both teams have changed dramatically since that date, so that small statistic doesn’t really mean anything at the moment. To be fair, the Lions technically haven’t beat the Sharks in Jacksonville a single time in franchise history. That’s beside the point because this game is not in Jacksonville.

Both teams have some powerfull offenses, but who ranks the best when it comes to the offense?
Top Receivers at Full-Strength
Like mentioned in last week’s preview, the Sharks have the top three receivers from the NAL last season. That didn’t seem to phase the Streets, as they nearly shut down all receivers except Devin Wilson.

Wilson finished with 140 yards and one touchdown on 11 receptions. Former Lions receiver, Jarmon Fortson, looked great in the first drive for Jacksonville, catching both passes that were in his direction, one of which he took to cash in some points.

Other former Lions receiver Durron Neal suffered an injury and did not play, but he should be good to play this week against his old team. Neal led the league in receiving yards last season and he should be hungry for revenge on his old team for letting him go.

With all of this said, there can only be one receiver targeted per play and there are only so many offensive plays in a game, so these receivers aren’t all going to see all-star numbers this week or every week.

One or two players might see great numbers, but definitely not all three, especially when there are other receivers such as Chris Gilchrist and Cody Saul taking reps. Gilchrist actually led the Sharks in receiving touchdowns last week with two.
Sluggish Defense but still forcing turnovers?
For the Sharks defense, their Defensive Backs looked a tad bit tired on the field ast week, but were still able to force two turnovers. Saul at Linebacker also caught a controvercial interception last week, as he caught the ball but didn’t maintain possession before the ball popped out. The officials ruled the play as a fumble and the game continued, crediting Saul with an interception.

Defensive Lineman Keith Bowers looks to make his return debut with the Sharks after suffering an injury in training camp, less than two weeks before the home-opener. With him back in the swing of things, the Sharks defense should be back to normal with their high-powered sack machines. Nick Woodman also came down with a sack last week, the Sharks’ only last against the Streets.
Touchdown Galore Lions Offense
Last week, the Lions offense had a field day against the Orlando Predators defense. One player alone scored five touchdowns. That player was Wide Receiver Bones Bagaunte. Bagaunte previously played for the Massachusetts Pirates and totaled 54 receptions for 524 yards and 14 touchdowns in nine games.

After making the move to the Lions, he showed that he was willing to be their top guy. Their quarterback, Luke Collis, may be far from Mason Espinosa, but he has tons of arena football experience, starting with the Spokane Shock in 2012. Losing Fortson and Neal to the Sharks didn’t seem to phase the Lions at all, as they were just two points short of the Predators.

They looked strong all game, but didn’t have a kicker to boot the ball through the uprights. This forced Columbus to attempt a 2-point conversion after every single touchdown. After a while, this can be very predictable and can put the opponents at an advantage.
Same-ish Defense from Last Year
The Lions lost a key member of the defense from last year when Defensive Back Chris Pickett. He was named First Team All-NAL selection in 2018. That won’t slow the Lions down this season because they almost have the same exact defense as last year.

Other key players to stay with the Lions this season include Defensive Lineman Kendrick Washington, Defensive Backs Shattle Fenteg, Martay Mattox, and Kyle Griswould.

There is no saying that this defense will be unstoppable after what happened last season in the championship game (Carolina beat the Lions 66-8), but this defense is pretty close to being an unstoppable force.

It will be interesting to see if they will be able to keep up with this fast-paced Jacksonville offense or if they will be one step ahead and win the third and fourth down game.
Conclusion and Closing Thoughts
This game will be tough to pick a winner because nobody really knows what to expect from either team. Both teams are really good and they have shown that, but there are obviously some bumps in the road so far.

For Jacksonville to win this game, they must target more receivers than just one. Last week, they started off great by getting the ball to multiple receivers to start the game. That resulted in points on the board. Once the ball consistently got to Wilson, things got very predictable and that is where Jacksonville fell apart.

For Columbus to win, they must shut down the Sharks offense and get past the offensive line to get to the Quarterback. When the QB has no time to think about what he is going to do, mistakes will happen. That is exactly what Columbus has to do in order to win.

When it comes down to it, both teams have learned each other more since last week. Both teams also have what it takes to win. They say defense wins championships and right now, Columbus has the scariest looking defense.

Jacksonville only got to the QB once last week and forced two of the three turnovers in “garbage” time. Unless the Jacksonville defense can turn things around, this Lions team will make Columbus real proud.

As always, don’t forget to follow us in Instagram and Twitter for all updates on arena and indoor football throughout the country.The post NAL: Sharks in High Hopes to Break History in Columbus appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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