Soul defense destroys Cleveland, Win 69-41
The Philadelphia Soul went through changes on the defensive side late this offseason when Defensive Coordinator Derek Stingley left for personal reasons, and long time low level indoor football coach Bernie Nowotarski now has control of the defense. Despite the change, the Soul defense didn't miss a beat in the season opener, with four interceptions on Cleveland Gladiators quarterback Chris Dieker. Dwayne Hollis lead the team with two interceptions, and Joe Goosby and Tracy Belton with one each.
Hollis moved to the safety position due to an injury to James Romain. The two interceptions for Hollis will help solidify him as a starting defensive back in the future.
The Gladiators offensive line struggled all night, allowing four sacks to the Soul defensive line. Jake Metz, Teddy Jennings, Wess Mauia, and Justin Lawrence all were able to get a sack. During the fourth quarter Chris Dieker came out of the game due to an injury and backup Arvell Nelson came in the game.
Offensively the Soul were very productive and did a nice job of keeping all three of the starting receivers involved in the offense. Shaun Kauleinamoku lead the charge with seven receptions for 95 yards and three touchdowns, while Ryan McDaniel and Darius Reynolds also were very effective.
Reigning league MVP Dan Raudabaugh started where he left off last season with seven touchdowns and 233 yards. Raudabaugh made two bad reads and was picked off by defensive back Joe Powell twice. Despite the bad reads, Raudabaugh still looks to be a league elite with the solid performance tonight.
Maybe the most impressive thing from the season opener was the Soul offensive line. The Soul changed their middle of the offense with the additions of center Wayne Tribue and fullback Jeramie Richardson. The group that also includes Adam Smith and Neal Tivis allowed no sacks to a respectable Cleveland pass rush. This group looks to continue on the perennial legacy that has now been left over the past five seasons of keeping Raudabaugh safe.
The Soul will travel back home and take on the Jacksonville Sharks on Monday, April 11th. The Soul and Sharks will always be rivals because of the success the two teams have had since the league's rebirth. With Derrick Ross and Tiger Jones being former Soul members, and two of the leading members of last years American Conference Championship winning Sharks team that eliminated the Soul, the game will be tense.
“This was a great way to start our season,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said in the team's press release. “We are ArenaBowl or bust and with a win on the road, we are one step closer. I am looking forward to having this next week to fix the errors and prepare for the home opener against Jacksonville.”