|The Soul kick off their 2013 season in Arizona|
The two teams last battled it out in last season’s ArenaBowl XXV as Arizona defeated Philadelphia, 72-54.
The Soul, on a six-game season-opener win streak, fly into Phoenix with new head coach Clint Dolezel. Dolezel takes over Philadelphia for his first time after having been the assistant head coach of the team last year. He is 11-7 (11-8) in his lone season as a head coach in Dallas in 2011. Kevin Guy leads Arizona with a 48-24 record (53-27 overall) coming off his first championship in two ArenaBowl appearances as Arizona’s head coach. Guy has a season-opening record of 3-1 with Arizona.
“I think this game is going to come down to the ‘bigs’ and their play up front,” explains Dolezel. “We have to put pressure on Davila and we have to protect Dan. If we can do this, we put ourselves in great position to win. I’m happy we’re playing Arizona in Week One. It’s a chance for us to get the sour taste out of our mouths from the last time we met. We can finally stop thinking about it and we can move on to the rest of the season.”
Arizona currently leads the series between the two teams, 2-0. Aside from the championship last season, the Soul lost to Arizona 55-54 on June 25, 2011. The 2013 season-opener is promising as last season’s No.1 (68.2) and No. 4 (62.1) scoring offenses match-up.
Philadelphia brought back the offensive weapons that led them to being the best scoring offense in the league. FB Derrick Ross looks to continue his record-breaking career against a defense that ranked No. 2 (13.4) last season in stopping the run. In the last match-up, he was shut down to four rushes, primarily because of the Soul’s deficit early in the game. During the ArenaBowl, WR Tiger Jones was invited to attend the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles training camp, leaving QB Dan Raudabaugh without his top target against the No. 15 (293.4) pass defense. Raudabaugh still threw for seven touchdowns in the loss.
Arizona’s QB Nick Davila, WR Maurice Purify, and DB Arkeith Brown are returning to the team for the 2013 season. In the ArenaBowl, Davila won Offensive Player of the Game and Brown won Defensive Player of the Game. In the last match-up, Davila beat the Soul secondary for nine touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The last game came down to turnovers. Philadelphia led the league in turnover margin (+23) and Arizona was No. 4 (+10). They were able to force Philadelphia into four turnovers, as Philadelphia was unable to force a single turnover.
This week’s match-up will come down to which defense can stop the high-scoring offense. Both teams offset each other, as last season Arizona, No. 2 run defense (13.4) matched up against the No. 1 run offense (44.2). The Rattlers No. 3 (312.0) pass offense matched up against the No. 1 (94.8) pass defense efficiency. Both teams are talented; it will come to which side of the ball breaks first.