Points Could Be Aplenty in ArenaBowl XXV
Last year, the Jacksonville Sharks and the Arizona Rattlers combined to score 143 points in a 73-70 game. It was the highest scoring ArenaBowl in league history, and it is the second highest scoring playoff game that the AFL has ever seen as well. The Rattlers are back, but this time around, it is the Philadelphia Soul that they are playing for the Foster Trophy this weekend, and the fireworks could be flying if both of these offenses play up to their potential.
QB Nick Davila did everything that he could last year for the Rattlers in the ArenaBowl. He threw eight touchdowns against just one pick in the game, including three TDs passes in the last four minutes of the game. This season was an even better one for the former Cincinnati Bearcat. He threw for 5.500 yards and 113 TDs versus just 16 INTs in the campaign.
Last year, Davila had to go through the Spokane Shock and the Chicago Rush to make it to the ArenaBowl, but this year, he had an even tougher road. He beat the man that is arguably going to retire as one of the best players in the history of the AFL in QB Mark Grieb for the San Jose SaberCats, and the man that absolutely obliterated all of the passing records this year in QB Tommy Grady of the Utah Blaze.
This year's Arizona club put up at least 70 points six times in 20 games thus far this year, and it still hasn't had a night in which it scored fewer than 47 points. WR Maurice Purify is the best receiver on this team at the moment, and he is arguably as talented as any receiver the team had ever had – And that's a real testament considering the fact that he's going up against the likes of Rod Windsor, Calvin Schexnayder, Siaha Burley, Trandon Harvey, and Hunkie Cooper. Purify's 126 receptions ranked fourth in Arizona history, and his 1,932 yards ranked behind just Shakes in 1998 and Windsor in 2010. WR Kerry Reed also had 1,380 yards, making it the first time in Rattlers history that they had two receivers have at least 1,300 receiving yards in the same season.
On the other side, the Soul have broken all sorts of records in their march to the ArenaBowl. They scored at least 55 points in all but one of their games this year, and they literally rewrote the record books for team honors.
Philadelphia scored 1,228 points this year, an average of 68.2 points per game. It scored 177 touchdowns, kicked 155 PATs attempted 173 extra points, had 78 rushing first downs, and scored 160 offensive touchdowns. One could argue that a lot of these records were set due to the fact that the season was 18 games long this year, and prior to the 2011 season, the longest AFL campaign lasted just 16 games. That being said though, the Soul averaged that 68.2 PPG mentioned before, and that's a record regardless of whether the season stretched 10, 12, 14, 16, or 18 games. Even the staunchest of Soul haters out there would have to admit that this was the best offensive season in the history of the league.
The accolades this year go to Offensive Coordinator Clint Dolezel. Dolezel was the head coach of the Dallas Vigilantes before this year, and not only did he take his talents to the City of Brotherly Love, but he brought a number of stars, including QB Dan Raudabaugh with him. Raudabaugh did a remarkable job managing this offense, coming up with 4,790 yards and 115 TDs to go with 18 picks. Unfortunately, his top target, WR Tiger Jones is now playing with the Philadelphia Eagles, so gone are his 133 receptions, 2,010 yards, and 47 scores.
One man that is still in the offense though, is FB Derrick Ross, who rushed for 645 yards and 32 TDs this year. Ross, another man who came over from the Vigilantes, was a machine this year, and he broke the single season rushing record by playing in just 16 games. Ross already has the fifth most rushing yards in league history, and he only has played two seasons. If he has another 400-yard season next year, he'll have more rushing yards than any other man that has ever played this game, including some of the remarkable rushers like Bob McMillen, Les Barley, Chad Dukes, and the all-time leading rusher in the AFL history, Bo Kelly.
There has only been one meeting between the Soul and the Rattlers in their histories, and Arizona was able to pick up the 55-54 victory. This time around, one can hope that the game will be that close, but in the end, there will probably be at least four more touchdowns.