Category Archives: Jonathan Bane

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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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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: 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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