Saturday, April 26, 2014

Soul headline AFL's return to ESPN

PHILADELPHIA – Arena Football returns to ESPN television this Sunday, April 27, as the Philadelphia Soul (2-3) host the Iowa Barnstormers (3-2) at 4:00 p.m. EST on ESPN2. It will be the first AFL game televised on the ESPN Family of Networks since 2008.

The Soul offense is led by quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, who surpassed Tony Graziani last week for first place in franchise history with 229 career passing touchdowns in the City of Brotherly Love. Hauling in a fair number of those scores have been Ryan McDaniel and Anthony Jones. McDaniel leads the team with 41 receptions for 525 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year and has hauled in at least one receiving touchdown in each of his last 11 games played. Meanwhile, Jones continues to work towards solidifying his spot in AFL history. “Tiger” stands 171 receiving yards shy of 10,000 for his career and just six touchdown receptions shy of moving into a tie with Arena Football Hall of Famer Randy Gatewood for the ninth-highest career total in AFL history with 214. 

Philadelphia also has the luxury of one of the greatest fullbacks in AFL history in Derrick Ross. After rushing for a League-high 58 yards last week, Ross is now just 67 yards shy of becoming the first player in AFL history to record 2,000 career rushing yards. He is also nine rushing touchdowns shy of Arena Football Hall of Famer Barry Wagner’s record of 127 career rushing scores.

The Barnstormers come to Philadelphia after two straight wins at home. In a 31-12 victory over the LA KISS last week in the HYDRIVE Arena Football Hall of Fame Game, quarterback Carson Coffman put up 264 yards and three touchdowns through the air, while adding a rushing touchdown of his own on the ground. Marco Thomas and Darius Reynolds continued to be his favorite targets, each tallying touchdowns in the game. Thomas leads the team with 43 receptions, 542 yards and 13 touchdowns, and has caught a touchdown pass in five straight games.

Defense has been a strength of the Barnstormers this season. Defensive end Mike Lewis collected a season-high 3.5 sacks last week, which tied him with Ernest Allen for the sixth-highest career total in AFL history with 43.5. All five Iowa defensive backs also recorded interceptions last week. Rookie defensive back Tramain Thomas has recorded an interception in three consecutive contests.

The Soul will rely on their playmaking secondary as well. Defensive back Rayshaun Kizer leads the team with 28.5 tackles on the year and is two interceptions shy of 50 for his career – the third-highest total in AFL history. The Soul should also receive a boost from 2013 Second Team All-Arena defensive back Fred Shaw, who was acquired in a trade with the San Antonio Talons last week.
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