Coming off their thrilling 48-41 season-opening victory over the Atlantic City Blackjacks last Saturday at home, the Philadelphia Soul (1-0) will look to carry their momentum Friday evening in a Week 2 road matchup opposite the Baltimore Brigade (1-0) at Royal Farms Arena. Soul DL Sean Daniels and WR Aaron Wascha are listed as probable.
The Soul will not only play for their second victory of the 2019 season, but will also vie for revenge following last season's first-round playoff losses opposite the team, ending their hopes for a third straight championship season. The Soul lost both legs of the round and never held a lead.
Similar to the Soul, the Brigade also won their season opener, at home, by a single-digit margin, 59-51 over the Washington Valor. Brigade quarterback Shane Boyd tossed six touchdown passes, oppososed to Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh's two against the Blackjacks. Raudabaugh;s 151 passing yards was his lowest in a game since August 5, 2017 (145 in two quarters against the Tampa Bay Storm, where he rested second half ahead of postseason).
Brigade wide receiver Joe Hills, who led the AFL with 33 receiving touchdowns for the Albany Empire en route to 2018 First Team All-Arena honors, finished Baltimore's season opener last week with a team-high three scores. Soul FB Adrian Ferns also posted a team-high three scores in Week 1 against Atlantic City, all rushing touchdowns. Eight of Hill's 33 touchdowns in 2018 came against the Soul spanning three games.
National TV Deal
Prior to the game, the AFL announced a media rights deal with ESPN for the 2019 season. All games will be streamed on ESPN3, while ArenaBowl XXXII will be televised on ESPN2. Either NBC Sports Philadelphia or NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus will also air all Philadelphia Soul games this season.
A huge part of the Soul's Week 1 success came from the defensive effort of DB James Romain, who returned a pair of pick-sixes, opposite Blackjacks quarterback Randy Hippeard, to secure the Soul franchise interceptions record (34). Romain also became the first Soul player with multiple pick-sixes in a games since 2012.
Romain will be joined by fellow DB Dwayne Hollis, the 2017 Defensive Back of the Year, who returns from his one-game AFL suspension due to signing with the non-defunct AAF; Hollis' AAF contract came after inking a deal with the Soul (non-exempt, unlike a CFL or NFL deal).
“We don’t like Baltimore,” said Romain, who expects the Soul's defensive to be extra motivated. “Last year was a fluke. Play teams six times, you’re supposed to get the upper edge.”
- Soul coach Clint Dolezel needs one more win to reach 90 for his career; he needs just five more to pass current Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden for the seventh most in AFL history. Dolezel is 89-40 all-time (including playoffs), 78-32 with Philadelphia.
- “It’s difficult to go on the road on a short week," Dolezel said of Friday's matchup, "but we know what to expect and how to prepare. We’re certainly motivated after last season.”
- The Soul look to start 2-0 for a third straight season. It will be a tough battle to climb if history repeats itself, however, as the team has lost four of their last five matchups against the Brigade, including both postseason games last season.
- The Soul are 6-5 all-time against the Brigade, despite being just 1-4 all-time at Royal Farms Arena (three straight losses).
- The Soul placed three players on injured reserve this week, WR Darius Reynolds, OL Jahlil Mathis-Ellis, and DB Willie Bailey. There are now seven players on the team's IR, with Reynolds being the only player with more than one year of AFL experience. The Brigade have nine players on injured reserve, including seven-year veteran OL Colin Madison.
- Rauabaugh averaged 273.4 passing yards and more than five touchdown passes per
game in his five games opposite the Brigade in 2018.
- Kickoff: 7 p.m.
- TV: NBCSP+
- Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
- Saturday, May 11, 2019: vs. Albany Empire (1-0), 7 p.m.
- TV: NBCSP+; Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic