Category Archives: Indoor Football

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IFL Commissioner Michael Allshouse Resigns, Todd Tryon to be next up

The Indoor Football League formally announced on Thursday that league commissioner Michael Allshouse has put in his official resignation after 10 years of service with the group.

The IFL released a statement on the matter saying that their search for a new commissioner had started, but according to our sources that search has already conclude.

The league is expected to announce soon that former owner of the Sioux Falls Storm, Todd Tryon, will be named the league’s next commissioner.
IFL Commissioner Michael Allshouse Resigns, Todd Tryon to be next up
It was first reported by “The IFL Network.”

The full statement sent out by the league can be viewed in full below:

The Indoor Football League (IFL) announced today that Commissioner Michael Allshouse has resigned to pursue other professional opportunities, effective immediately. The Board has begun a search for Allshouse’s successor.

“After ten years of service to the IFL it is the right time for me to step away from the organization,” said Allshouse. “I will look back fondly on my experience with the league, but it is time for me to explore other opportunities and challenges as I continue to grow professionally and personally.”

IFL Chairwoman Kathy Treankler stated, “The IFL Board of Directors is grateful for Mike’s years of service and leadership. Although we are sad to see him go, we fully support his decision and are thankful for his many accomplishments at the IFL. We wish him nothing but the best as he continues his professional career.”

Allshouse joined the IFL as an intern in 2009. He went on to serve in the roles of Director of Communications, Director of Football Operations, and Assistant Commissioner before being promoted to Commissioner in 2013.

“I have always prided myself on leaving a situation in a better position than when I arrived, and I believe we achieved that goal,” stated Allshouse.

The IFL is not yet finished announcing each of their expansion teams, so until that happens, the release of the 2020 schedule will be delayed. The schedule was announced last season in November.The post IFL Commissioner Michael Allshouse Resigns, Todd Tryon to be next up appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Connor Hollenbeck becomes first signing for Barnstormers 2020 Roster

The Iowa Barnstormers have consistently had one of the best receiving corps’ in the Indoor Football League over the past few seasons.

With the imminent coaching change that became official on Thursday with the hiring of Ameer Ismail, it’s wondered on if the Barnstormers will elect to maintain the focus on pass catchers.

They already took a big step towards it when they signed their first player on Friday.
Connor Hollenbeck becomes first signing for Barnstormers 2020 Roster
Connor Hollenbeck, a standout from the team’s 2019 roster became the first player to sign for 2020 as well as the first to announce he was returning to Des Moines.

For him, the process was easy.

After he found out former head coach Dixie Wooten would be leaving the franchise, he wanted to see who Iowa hired next before he signed to play for the Barnstormers for a second season.

“[Barnstormers Vice President and Chief Operating Executive] John [Pettit] called me a told me who it was,” Hollenbeck said. “We talked and I signed an hour later.”

Hollenbeck said he’s heard and seen nothing but good things about Coach Ismail and that it made his decision easy.

The returning standout was looking for another high energy coach to lead the Barnstormers and he got exactly that in Ismail.

“I wanted to see [Iowa hire] a coach with the same energy as [Wooten],” Hollenbeck said. “As long as he can keep us motivated and keep that energy and practice like it’s a game, we’ll [be good].”

Hollenbeck finished in the top 10 category in a number of receiving stats for the IFL in 2019.

The Edinsboro graduate finished eighth in total yards with 627, tied for seventh in touchdowns with 14, and was fourth in the league with 58 receptions in 13 games played.

Wide receiver Connor Hollenbeck tosses a ball to a ref following a first down. Hollenbeck is already making an impact at the position just two weeks into his career in Iowa. Photo by Connor Ferguson

“Obviously I’d like to increase my catches and yards,” Hollenbeck said. “That’d be awesome. I mean, like last year, I had better stats than I did any other year and our record was good. You know, I think you kind of look at your role on the team and know what you’re going to get no matter the situation, so maybe [I’d want to look at] consistency I guess.”

Though Hollenbeck’s goals lie within the team he’s playing on.

After playing two seasons with the Cedar Rapids Titans and only seeing four combined wins in his time on the east side of the state, the move to the Des Moines squad that was trending upward was easy.

“I’m going to keep just playing my game,” Hollenbeck said. “I’m all about the team. As long as we have a record like we did last year, I could really care less about how many catches I get.”

One thing that Hollenbeck is trying to improve on this year is playing at an even lighter weight than he did a season ago.

That’s what scouts have given Hollenbeck for feedback as he works, like the rest of the league, to reach the next level.

“I want to get quicker and faster,” Hollenbeck said. “That means playing at a lower weight and get a little leaner. See if I can get a little faster and develop some break-away speed; stuff like that.”

Hollenbeck came into camp last season weighing 240 pounds, which was a little on the heavy side for him, but he planned to cut weight during the two-week period.

That meant he was playing last season around 230 pounds.

“I felt better with the way I was playing on the field like that, so maybe if I lost five or ten more, I might feel even better,” Hollenbeck said.

He wants to take his range from 220-240 pounds during the year and shift it to around 215-230 pounds.

“I want to maybe come into camp a little bit lighter this year,” Hollenbeck said. “And bulk up a bit before, still so I can lose it.”

The team is slated to begin the 2020 Indoor Football League season in February, but the official schedule won’t be released for at least a couple of weeks.

Look for more news and profiles on Last Word On Sports’ Indoor Football department and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more offseason news.The post Connor Hollenbeck becomes first signing for Barnstormers 2020 Roster appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Spokane to return with ‘Shock’ name, Billy Back to HC

The Indoor Football League is expanding once again, and this time will be adding a familiar face to it’s lineup for the 2020 season.

The league is expanding with to the city of Spokane, who spent both 2016 and 2017 in the IFL under as the Spokane Empire before folding after a two-year stint with the league.

Now, the city will once again have an IFL team and this time with the ‘Shock’ nickname that was used in years prior when they were in the Arena Football League (AFL).

The name comes with a plethora of success, as the city won the AF2’s (development league for the AFL at the time) ArenaCup in 2006 and 2009 as well as the AFL’s Arena Bowl in 2010.
Spokane to return with ‘Shock’ name, Billy Back to HC
Sources have told Last Word On Sports that former NAL Coach of the Year and 2018 NAL Championship winner Billy Back will be named the head coach of the Shock.

The Carolina Cobras, the team Back coached for the past two seasons, announced that the two had parted ways earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the franchise has resurrected its Facebook page and appears to be using the same logo and word marks as it had in the past. The page can be viewed here. 

Spokane will become the 12th team set to play in the Indoor Football League for the 2020 season. Do note that this includes the Nebraska Danger who may not be playing in Grand Island again next season.

The Shock are expected to make an announcement regarding the team’s 2020 plans on October 1. For more Indoor Football League off-season news, follow LWOS on twitter here.

2020 Indoor Football League teams
Arizona Rattlers
Bismarck Bucks
Cedar Rapids River Kings
Duke City Gladiators
Green Bay Blizzard
Iowa Barnstormers
Nebraska Danger*
Oakland Panthers
Quad City Steamwheelers
San Diego Strike Force
Sioux Falls Storm
Spokane Shock
Tucson Sugar SkullsThe post Spokane to return with ‘Shock’ name, Billy Back to HC appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Ameer Ismail hired as newest Iowa Barnstormers Coach

The search for the Iowa Barnstormers newest head coach is over, the team announced on Thursday, as they have hired Ameer Ismail to take the reins in Des Moines.

Ismail becomes the eighth head coach in Iowa Barnstormers history and will follow the most successful coaching stint the team has seen in Dixie Wooten.
Ameer Ismail hired as newest Iowa Barnstormers Coach
The former NFL and arena league player brings experience from all over the place, including stints with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars as well as the AFL’s Jacksonville Sharks (Pre-NAL) and a plethora of IFL teams.

“It is such an amazing honor to be named the new Head Coach of the Iowa Barnstormers, the most prestigious and historic team in all of indoor or arena football,” Ismail said in a press release from the team. “[Barnstormers Vice President and COO] John Pettit and I have known each other and maintained a great relationship over the years despite being on different teams or even in different leagues.”

Ismail started off his coaching career with assistant roles in the IFL in 2014. He spent time with the Cedar Rapids Titans, Tri-Cities Fever, and Spokane Empire.

In 2017, Ismail took his first head coaching job with the Champion Indoor Football league’s Bloomington Edge, where he would lead his team to a 7-6 record and a berth in the CIF Playoffs.

The next year, Ismail packed up shop and accepted the head coaching position for the newly formed Massachusetts Pirates in the east coast’s National Arena League.

There, Ismail led his team to an 11-6 record and another berth in the playoffs. He was also named NAL Coach of the Year during that time.

In 2019 Ismail took a break from head coaching in the arena league to take a spot coaching the outside linebackers at Albion College.

Now, he’ll return to the indoor ranks carrying an 18-12 record as a head coach and a resume that includes two playoff appearances in as many seasons.

“To be able to work with someone of his expertise and experience is another major reason why I wanted to be here,” Ismail said in the release. “We will continue the winning ways with tremendous positive culture for our community and fans. I am very grateful for the opportunity and can’t wait to bring another championship to Des Moines.”

Expect the Barnstormers as well as other teams in the Indoor Football League to start announcing player signings soon as well as an announcement regarding Iowa’s assistant coaching staff.The post Ameer Ismail hired as newest Iowa Barnstormers Coach appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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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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FERGUSON: Where Iowa will go Following Dixie Wooten Era

The Iowa Barnstormers went 10-20 in their first two seasons in the Indoor Football League. After that stretch, Iowa had gone seven straight years without a winning season.

Dixie Wooten entered. He went 36-8 in his three seasons at the helm in Des Moines, winning IFL Coach of the Year twice and also the franchise’s first championship.

The Barnstormers announced last week that the pair had parted ways and on Wednesday, the Tucson Sugar Skulls announced that Wooten would be their next head coach.

The full press release from the IFL can be found here.

So. Where does Iowa go now?
FERGUSON: Where Iowa will go Following Dixie Wooten Era
Well, the right candidate will likely have a strength in recruiting. That’s how the Barnstormers were successful under Wooten.

Even with rosters that only included five to eight players returning each season, Wooten rounded up talented teams in each of his three seasons.

Iowa’s front office as well as its fans are going to be looking for the same quality in their next leader.

Now, with Wooten’s departure, it’s expected that some of the stars from Iowa’s roster will not be returning to the team in the upcoming season.

The most obvious is 2019 LWOS IFL MVP Ryan Balentine, who has played under Wooten since their days in Billings.

Rocky Hayes was another standout during this past season in the heartland. When asked if he was coming back after Iowa’s last game he said it would depend on what Wooten would do.

And what’s to make of standout quarterback Daquan Neal? Wooten brought him to Iowa and he shined. Will he follow to Tucson?

October 1 is the first day that returning players from 2019 can sign with teams for 2020, so we won’t know much of anything in concrete until then.

As for coaching candidates for the team, it’s not likely that a former player of recent years will be taking over the ship. It didn’t work for Joe Brannen and of the players that have gone on to coach, most headed to the college ranks in position coaching spots.

Although, there is one exception to that in Jason Simpson. 

Simpson was an stand out defensive back and has been involved with Iowa for a number of years. Last season, he was the team’s defensive back coach and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the 2020 staff in some capacity.

Another pair of names to look at are those that were assistant coaches when Wooten was in Iowa.

Hurtiss Chin and Marcus Coleman both have experience with Wooten, were on the Iowa staff during the United Bowl season, and coached in Tucson this past season.

Now, there’s still a chance the two stay in Tucson for 2020, but the Sugar Skulls did not announce any plans for their assistant coach when Wooten’s hire was announced.

The last time Iowa was staffed with hiring a new coach, Mark Stoute’s name was thrown around as the next potential coach instead of Wooten.

Stoute ended up taking the job in Jacksonville and most recently finished off the 2019 season with the Cedar Rapids River Kings. The team finished 1-13 last season.

If you’re looking for Iowa to get what some would consider a home run hire, I’d pick one out of left field in current Carolina Cobras (NAL) head coach Billy Back.

Back has plenty of experience and has proved his worth in Carolina, earning back-to-back trips to the east coast league’s championship game and winning the whole thing back in 2018.

Not to mention, Back has history with the IFL and was at one point signed to coach in Iowa with Cedar Rapids right before accepting the Carolina job.

No matter who Iowa hires as its franchise’s next head coach, fans in the stands are going to expect wins – rightfully so. That’s what they should expect after the Dixie Wooten era.

The thing that’s important to remember is that in a sport filled with uncertainty year after year, Iowa is still here in Des Moines at Wells Fargo Arena, and come February, we’ll all be sitting back, watching some good, old Barnstormers football.The post FERGUSON: Where Iowa will go Following Dixie Wooten Era 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.
Follow Us for More Information
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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San Diego Strike Force reveal Re-design

The San Diego Strike Force are moving from the blue-and-white.

It was announced a short time ago that the team would be re-designing it’s look after the end of their 1-13 initial season in the Indoor Football League.
San Diego Strike Force reveal Re-design
The jerseys were revealed a short time later and, on Wednesday afternoon, the full look was released to the public.

The team revealed new primary and secondary logos as well, that work amazingly with the jerseys and are themed around fighter pilots.

The full slate of logos can be found below, with the primary logo being on the left side.

The team also put out some new helmets that resemble the World War ll air crafts.

These were originally planned for the team’s first year in the IFL, however were never used on the field during the 2019 season.

The new look features three different helmets with the home and alternate lids resembling the planes and the away ones containing the team’s secondary ‘SD’ logo.

The jerseys that the team will be using can be seen below, with Flight Suit home uniform, the interceptor white road uniform, and the stealth look for the alternates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strike Force general manager Ryan Eucker also revealed that San Diego would be hosting the IFL’s annual league meetings as well.

The meetings are usually held in Las Vegas, and while it doesn’t really have much barring on what goes on there, a change is still being made.

The 2020 IFL season will kick off in February, but the schedule will likely not be out until November.

You can keep up with all of our indoor football coverage by following LWOS Indoor Football on social media. All of the links to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be reached by clicking on the respective sites here.The post San Diego Strike Force reveal Re-design 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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