Arena Football News & Notes
(CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION: In the last News & Notes post, we said the Power’s game at New Orleans kicked off at 7:00 Thursday, which was supposed to read “7:00 local time.” That game kicks off at 8:00 PM Eastern Thursday; we apologize for the miscommunication.)
In the Win Column, Out the Door
The Power’s Thursday night opponent, the New Orleans VooDoo, finally picked up their first win of the 2011 season last Saturday night, going on the road and stunning the previously undefeated Cleveland Gladiators 34-33. A couple days after the VooDoo became the last team in the league to break into the left side of the ledger, they made several roster moves:
-Traded one of their claim orders to the Philadelphia Soul for offensive lineman Callahan Bright
-Released: QB Derek Cassidy, WR Kris Peters
-Signed: DL Kwame Jordan, DB Jasper O’Quinn, WR Lucas Taylor, QB Chris Wallace
-Placed on IR: DL Jemelle Cage, DL Jeremy Pittman
Blaze Win, But at What Cost?
In a seesaw National Conference West Division battle the Utah Blaze (3-2) prevailed 69-62 over the reeling Spokane Shock (1-4) last Saturday. Tommy Grady was a very efficient 26-of-33 for 245 yards and six touchdowns. AFL veteran Aaron Boone accounted for half those scores and 100 of those yards on 10 catches, while becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving yards (4,094), in what might be the final game of his career. The fifth-year man from Kentucky apparently injured his knee in a manner that will likely require season- and potentially career-ending surgery, an injury the team will re-evaluate Monday, according to The Deseret News. Either way, Utah loses its leading receiver, as Boone had accumulated 699 yards and 16 touchdowns in five games.
Fortunately for the Power’s sake, they weren’t the only East Division team that had a rough go of it in Week 6. In addition to the defeats suffered by Cleveland and Milwaukee, the Power got a little extra help in the standings when Philadelphia tasted defeat in its nationally-televised home opener last Friday. After an ArenaBowl XXII banner-raising ceremony that was years overdue, the Soul jumped out to a 41-26 lead over the Tampa Bay Storm after three quarters. But the Storm rallied to take a 48-41 lead late in the fourth, and after Philly tied it up, Kyle Chilton booted a 30-yard field goal as time expired for a 51-48 victory.
The kick silenced the Wells Fargo Center crowd of 12,893–the only bigger crowd for an AFL game this season was the 13,904 at CONSOL Energy Center that saw the Power lose to the Soul in their inaugural game Mar. 11. Philadelphia (1-4) remains tied with Milwaukee for last place in the East Division.
Home Not Sweet Home
Still don’t believe us when we say the Power weren’t alone in their struggles at CONSOL Energy Center in Week 6? If it’s any consolation, all six AFL home teams last Saturday–Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Georgia, Kansas City, Tulsa and Iowa–lost their Week 6 games. The last time six home teams lost on a Saturday came in Week 7 of the 1997 season.
AFL Gives More Kudos
At the end of every Power home game, you hear our own Bubba Snider, the PA announcer at CONSOL Energy Center, name the winners of the individual post-game awards: the Offensive Player of the Game, the Defensive Player of the Game, the Playmaker of the Game, the Catch of the Game and the Highlight of the Game. All those honors are voted on by attending media. The AFL has now added a game MVP award to that list, and presumably, this will be incorporated starting with the upcoming Week 7 action.
Speaking of awards, here are the AFL’s weekly award winners for Week 6:
JLS Ironman of the Week: C.J. Johnson, WR, Georgia Force (four kick returns for 127 yards, including a 57-yard TD; 150 all-purpose yards and two TDs in a 48-43 loss to the Orlando Predators)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Week: Anthony Hoke, DL, Cleveland Gladiators (six tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, one blocked kick in their loss to New Orleans)
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Week: Rod Windsor, WR, Arizona Rattlers (16 receptions, 217 yards, five TDs in a 63-49 win over the Kansas City Command)
Still the One
For the second week in a row the Arizona Rattlers (5-0), powered by aforementioned Cleveland Browns receiver Rod Windsor, were an overwhelming choice for the top spot in the Week 6 AFL Coaches’ Poll. Furthermore, for the second week in a row, the Rattlers, now the AFL’s only unbeaten squad, received 16 first-place votes.
By Matt Popchock