AFL OPENS 2016 SEASON WITH 3,000th GAME

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Arena Football League 1

LAS VEGAS (March 30, 2016) – The Tampa Bay Storm will host the Orlando Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa for the Arena Football League’s 3,000th game to kick off the League’s 29th Season on April 1 at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on WatchESPN. 

The Storm-Predators rivalry dates back to 1991.  Elsewhere, Cleveland Gladiators hosts the Philadelphia Soul (WatchESPN), Arizona Rattlers travel to Portland Steel (CBS Sports Network) and American Conference champion Jacksonville Sharks head to Los Angeles to play the KISS (ESPN2 and WatchESPN).

WEEK 1 MATCHUPS

ORLANDO PREDATORS (0-0) AT TAMPA BAY STORM (0-0)
Friday, April 1 at 7 p.m. ET (WATCHESPN)
  ORLANDO TAMPA BAY
TOTAL OFFENSE (2015 RANK) 295.5 (3) 282.5 (4)
TOTAL DEFENSE (2015 RANK) 316.7 (12) 272.5 (7)
POINTS SCORED (2015 RANK) 56.8 (3) 45.6 (9)
POINTS ALLOWED (2015 RANK) 52.8 (9) 52.3 (8)
TURNOVER MARGIN (2015 RANK) +0 (5) -11 (10)

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:  Orlando Head Coach Rob Keefe looks to QB Randy Hippeard (247-of-332 passes for 2,997 yards and 61 TDs in 2015), who is coming off a career season where he led the Predators to a postseason appearance… WR Brandon Thompkins returns to Orlando after leading the team with 100 receptions, 1,266 receiving yards and 206 points (he had 23 TDs)… Eight-year AFL veteran WR Larry Brackins returns after leading Orlando with 29 receiving touchdowns, while adding 68 catches for 756 yards and 198 points… Newly-acquired DL Mike Lewis joins the Predators after leading Las Vegas with 9.5 total sacks, adding 28.5 total tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries in 2015… Tampa Bay and head coach Lawrence Samuels will have newly-acquired QB Adam Kennedy (260-of-422 passes for 2,863 yards and 43 TDs with New Orleans in 2015) at the controls… 13-year AFL veteran T.T. Toliver (112 catches, 1,536 yards, 35 TDs and 216 points in 2015) is back with WR Julius Gregory (98 receptions, 1,036 yards and 27 TDs) to give Kennedy a lethal duo to throw to…  DB James Harrell (7 INTs, 55.0 total tackles, 12 pass breakups and 5 fumble recoveries in 2015) is joined by DB Cameron McGlenn (4 INTs, 73.0 total tackles, 9 pass breakups and 1 forced fumble with New Orleans in 2015) will patrol the secondary for the Storm… DL Everett Dawkins (4.0 total sacks, 28.0 total tackles, 3 forced fumbles and a team-leading 10.0 tackles for loss in 2015) returns to led the charge on the defensive front.

 

PHILADELPHIA SOUL (0-0) AT CLEVELAND GLADIATORS (0-0)
Friday, April 1 at 7 p.m. ET (WATCHESPN)
  PHILADELPHIA CLEVELAND
TOTAL OFFENSE (2015 RANK) 299.8 (2) 278.8 (6)
TOTAL DEFENSE (2015 RANK) 244.9 (1) 291.7 (11)
POINTS SCORED (2015 RANK) 58.9 (2) 52.9 (6)
POINTS ALLOWED (2015 RANK) 45.7 (2) 53.3 (10)
TURNOVER MARGIN (2015 RANK) +14 (4) -7 (6)

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Soul Head Coach Clint Dolezel and2015 AFL MVP Dan Raudabaugh (411-of-620 passing for 4,992 yards and League-leading 119 TDs) hopes to return to form and guide the Soul to their third ArenaBowl appearance in 5 years in 2016… Newly acquired WR Darius Reynolds (50 catches, 607 yards and 12 TDs in San Jose in 2015) looks to join an already strong stable of receivers that includes: Ryan McDaniel (114 receptions for 1,277 yards and 29 TDs in 2015) and Shaun Kaulienamoku (70 catches, 1,035 yards and 21 TDs in 2015)… All-Arena OL Adam Smith (AFL TE single-season record of 9 receiving TDs in 2015) returns to anchor an offensive line that finished No. 2 in the AFL in sacks allowed (10)… The defensive front of former All-Arena DL Teddy Jennings (6.0 sacks in 2015) and MLB Beau Bell (4.5 total sack in 11 games in 2015) will apply the pressure, while All-Arena DB James Romain (10 INTs and 29 pass breakups in 2015) and JLB Joe Goosby (68.5 total tackles, 5 forced fumbles and 2 INTs) help button up the backside… Cleveland Head Coach Steve Thonn has QB Chris Dieker taking over the reigns as the starting signal caller in 2016… The dynamic duo of WR Collin Taylor (144 catches for 1,597 yards, 43 TDs and 272 points) and WR Dominick Goodman (135 receptions for 1,262 yards, 27 TDs and 166 points) will help the new QB get off to a good start… DL Ryan Colling (3.5 sacks, 14.5 total tackles and 1 fumble recovery in 2015) helps bring the pressure… WR/KR Larry Beavers (23.2 Kick return average and 2 return TDs with New Orleans in 2015) will look to get Cleveland in positive field position… DB Brandon Stephens (33.0 total tackles and 5 pass breakups in 2015) and DB Ray Little (32.5 total tackles, 1 INT and 3 pass breakups with Las Vegas in 2015) will look to help replace DB Dominic Jones (now Cleveland’s assistant coach) in the secondary. 

ARIZONA RATTLERS (0-0) AT PORTLAND STEEL (0-0)

Friday, April 1 at 10 p.m. ET (CBS SPORTS NETWORK)

Play-by-play: Dave Ryan; Analyst: Sherdrick Bonner; Sideline: Taylor Rooks

  ARIZONA PORTLAND
TOTAL OFFENSE (2015 RANK) 272.8 (8) 244.2 (10)
TOTAL DEFENSE (2015 RANK) 272.6 (8) 276.2 (9)
POINTS SCORED (2015 RANK) 55.7 (4) 47.7 (7)
POINTS ALLOWED (2015 RANK) 45.8 (3) 54.2 (12)
TURNOVER MARGIN (2015 RANK) +16 (3) -10 (t-8)

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:  Arizona Head Coach Kevin Guy has QB Nick Davila (313-of-474 passing for 3,519 yards and 87 TDs in 2015) leading the Rattlers under center… All-Arena Second Team WR Rod Windsor (139 catches for 1,754 yards, 39 TDs and 252 points) and WR/DB Kerry Reed (76 receptions for 705 yards and 25 TDs) are re-joined by WR Maurice Purify (14 receptions for 195 yards and 6 TDs in just 3 games with San Jose in 2015)… DL Tyre Glasper (11.5 sacks, 34.5 total tackles, 2 safeties, 3 fumble recoveries in 2015) and DL Anttaj Hawthorne (4.0 sacks, 13.5 total tackles, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles and 3 blocked kicks in 2015) lead the push upfront for the Rattlers… FB Mykel Benson (286 rushing yards and 17 TDs) will provide the lead to the ground attack as well as pass protection… Portland Head Coach Ron James aims for QB Danny Southwick (191-of-338 passing for 2,342 yards and 43 TDs in 10 games with LA in 2015) to start the season leading the Steel troops… Newly-acquired WR Nick Truesdell (80 receptions for 977 yards and 23 TDs with Spokane in 2015) and former Rookie of the Year WR Jared Perry (100 catches for 1,297 yards and 29 TDs in 2015)… All-Arena Second Team C John Collins returns to anchor the offensive line… LB Bryce Peila (57.0 total tackles, 3 INTs and 2 fumble recoveries in 2015) and addition of DL Brandon Sesay (3.0 sacks, 15.5 total tackles, 1 forced fumble and 2 blocked kicks with Tampa Bay in 2015) will help the pass rush.

 

JACKSONVILLE SHARKS (0-0) AT LOS ANGELES KISS (0-0)

Saturday, April 2 at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2 and WatchESPN)

Play-by-play: JB Long; Analyst: Sherdrick Bonner; Sideline: Tina Cervasio

  JACKSONVILLE LOS ANGELES
TOTAL OFFENSE (2015 RANK) 300.2 (1) 265.8 (9)
TOTAL DEFENSE (2015 RANK) 254.8 (4) 268.1 (6)
POINTS SCORED (2015 RANK) 53.9  (5) 40.2 (11)
POINTS ALLOWED (2015 RANK) 50.1 (4) 50.8 (6)
TURNOVER MARGIN (2015 RANK) +18 (2) -10 (t-8)

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Jacksonville Head Coach Les Moss has QB Tommy Grady (402-of-597 passing for 4,660 yards and 95 TDs) leading the Sharks offense after putting up solid numbers in 2015 for the American Conference champs… All-Arena First Team performers FB Derrick Ross (League-leading 586 rushing yards and 33 TDs), WR Tiger Jones (148 receptions for 2,087 yards and 38 TDs), OL Moqut Ruffins, and Rookie of the Year DB Greg Reid (70.5 total tackles, 9 INTs, 21 pass breakups and 2 fumble recoveries in 2015) return to the Sharks in 2016… All-Arena Second Team WR Joe Hills (150 catches for 1,597 yards and 42 TDs) also returns to Jacksonville… First-year LA KISS Head Coach Omarr Smith looks to All-Arena First Team WR Donovan Morgan (132 catches for 2,074 yards, 44 TDs and 264 points), but will get some additional help this season from WR Amarri Jackson (92 receptions for 1,173 yards and 24 TDs with Cleveland in 2015) and WR DJ Stephens (44 catches for 681 yards and 11 TDs with San Jose in 2015)… QB Nathan Stanley (57-of-92 passing for 723 yards with 20 TDs and 0 INTs with San Jose in 2015) takes over as KISS starting signal caller…All-Arena Second Team DB Rayshaun Kizer (71.5 total tackles, 5 INTs, 21 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery in 2015 with LA) will patrol the secondary along with newly-acquired DB Fred Obi (48.0 total tackles, 4 INTs and 9 pass breakups with San Jose in 2015).

ABOUT THE AFL

The Arena Football League enters its 29th Season in 2016.  Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country.  The ESPN family of networks and CBS Sports Network nationally broadcast AFL games each week, culminating with the ArenaBowl on ESPN.  For all the latest news and discussion on the Arena Football League, follow the AFL on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@aflarenaball).

 

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