By Matt Popchock
Last fall the Arena Football League announced its schedule toward the end of October, but this time the league got a bit of an early jump on putting out the 2012 slate.
The universal AFL schedule for the upcoming season was released Thursday evening. The Pittsburgh Power will open their 18-game regular season Fri., Mar. 9 at Amway Center against the Orlando Predators, a game that will be televised on the NFL Network.
Those two teams met on national television last season as well, in a July 1 contest that produced a come-from-behind win for Orlando and proved to be a damaging blow to the Power’s inaugural season. The Power would finish 9-9, good for second in the American Conference’s East Division, but just shy of a playoff berth.
In fact, the 2012 schedule includes four NFL Network appearances for the Power, compared to just three in 2011. Two weeks after the lid-lifter, the Power will take on the East Division rival Philadelphia Soul, featuring former Sto-Rox quarterback Adam DiMichele, in the first of their nine home games on Fri., Mar. 23, and NFL Network will be on hand for that game as well. Those teams opened the 2011 season in Pittsburgh with NFL Network cameras present.
On Fri., June 8, the Power will visit another divisional foe, the Cleveland Gladiators, for what should be a hotly contested matchup on the network. The Gladiators defeated the visiting Power before a national TV audience in the penultimate regular season game of 2011 to capture the division title and knock Pittsburgh from playoff contention.
Finally, the network will visit CONSOL Energy Center again for the Power’s Fri., July 20 regular season finale, as they host the ArenaBowl champion Jacksonville Sharks.
“We drew a bunch of return matchups and teams we faced last year, so there will be more of a familiarity factor for coaches and players this year,” said second-year head coach Chris Siegfried, who served as an assistant coach with the Sharks before coming to Pittsburgh. “This will really test our ability to continue to improve as the season progresses.”
Other interesting schedule notes include the fact that the first of the Power’s two league-mandated byes takes place quite early this season, in Week 2. The Power are also off during Week 12.
In addition, there are some firsts for the Power in 2012. The oldest and most successful franchise in AFL history, the Tampa Bay Storm, makes its first-ever visit to CONSOL Energy Center Sat., July 7. The Storm opened play in 1987 as the Pittsburgh Gladiators, one of the original AFL’s charter franchises, and made their home at the Civic Arena through 1990. The Power will host the Kansas City Command in Week 11, the first game of any kind between those clubs, and immediately prior to that, the Power head to The Alamodome to face ArenaBowl XXIV MVP Aaron Garcia and the San Antonio Talons in the first meeting between those two since the Talons moved from Tulsa just weeks ago.
Recently there had been persistent rumors that the Power and Talons would open their respective seasons against each other in San Antonio.
Here is the Pittsburgh Power’s 2012 schedule in its entirety:
3/9 Orlando Predators (away)*
3/23 Philadelphia Soul (home)*
3/29 Milwaukee Mustangs (away)
4/6 Iowa Barnstormers (home)
4/14 Orlando Predators (home)
4/20 New Orleans VooDoo (away)
4/28 Cleveland Gladiators (home)
5/5 Georgia Force (home)
5/12 San Antonio Talons (away)
5/19 Kansas City Command (home)
6/3 Arizona Rattlers (away)
6/8 Cleveland Gladiators (away)*
6/16 Milwaukee Mustangs (home)
6/24 Philadelphia Soul (away)
6/30 Iowa Barnstormers (away)
7/7 Tampa Bay Storm (home)
7/14 Georgia Force (away)
7/20 Jacksonville Sharks (home)*
* Denotes NFL Network game.
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