Rattler Nation Heads West to Watch Team Continue Historic Path
Every team says they have the best fans, but it is quite another thing to prove it.
Demonstrating the true passion of Arena Football League fans, more than 100 Arizona Rattlers diehards made the trip west to California last weekend to watch their team dominate the Los Angeles KISS 70-25.
“The passion our fan base shows is inspiring – it makes doing all the work totally worth it,” said Rattlers fan Chris Curtis, who organized a bus trip for 56 people. “It really was pretty amazing. We sold out the bus in a little over a week – I honestly thought it would take a lot longer.”
The organizer said the entire trip went smoothly.
“Everything happened on time which surprised me since there are always little things that go wrong,” Curtis explained. “For that, I thank those who attended.”
The “Rattlers Road Trip” was such a success, there might be another before this season is done.
Another 50 or so people drove out on their own and combined with players' friends and families to form a cheering section from Rattler Nation that rivaled that of the home team at the Honda Center. It did not go unnoticed by Arizona players and coaches as well as those watching on television and the internet.
And the fans had plenty to cheer about as the Rattlers rolled to their 14th straight win dating back to last season.
The Rattlers, the league's highest-scoring team (66.3 PPG), are beating opponents by an average of 19 points per game. The dominance is starting to become routine as the team has rolled to its best start in its storied history.
With eight games remaining, the Rattlers (10-0) are on a historic path.
No team has ever finished an AFL regular season undefeated, but that could all change in a couple months. I really believe 18-0 could be in play.
The other teams in the Western Division are providing little to no resistance. With the KISS at 2-8 and the San Antonio Talons at 1-9, the Rattlers have an eight-lead game after 10 games played. Arizona can wrap up the division this weekend.
But it won't be easy.
One of the toughest challenges on Arizona's quest for perfection is this Saturday when the San Jose SaberCats converge on the Snake Pit. It took a last-second touchdown from Nick Davila to Kerry Reed to escape SAP Center with a win on April 12.
If the Rattlers get past their rivals, there are still serious challenges to staying undefeated with future road games at Spokane, at San Jose and at Orlando.
Interestingly, the Cleveland Gladiators are also unbeaten, but the Glads needed two miracle finishes to keep their spotless record intact. It is a credit to them to win a game when down by 17 points with less than a minute left, but on the flip side, the Philadelphia Soul gave that game away last Friday. It was a choke job for the ages.
Cleveland also pulled out its rabbit's foot at Spokane, winning the game on a last-play, Hail Mary off the rebound net. The Gladiators still have to face the Tampa Bay Storm twice, the Pittsburgh Power once and will travel to Philly to face a Soul team looking for revenge. I believe they will absorb at least one loss in that span.
With ArenaBowl home field going to the team with the best overall record, there is no time for the Rattlers to ease up.
And with Cleveland and Arizona holding the top spots in AFL power polls basically all season, it would be pretty special to see them square off for the title.
Matt Loeschman is the business editor/city reporter at the Williamson County Sun and a color commentator for SHN Sports in Georgetown, Texas. As a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he bleeds burnt orange but is also an avid fan of the Arizona Rattlers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Stars, Texas Stars, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo and Austin Aztex. With nearly 20 years of experience in print journalism and radio, Matt has covered sports ranging from high school to the pros along with local news. He has followed the AFL since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter @MattLoeschman.