Tuesday, July 8, 2008

AFL: Conference Championship Match Ups

The Arena Football Conference Championship games are set and both are shaping up to have some great story lines.

First off, in the National Conference the #1 Philadelphia Soul (14-3) will play host to the # 4 Cleveland Gladiators (11-7) on July 12th (ESPN 1pm ET).

The Gladiators who I have been sporadically reporting about over the season since they have just made the move to my beloved sports town, are an unlikely squad to be sitting one win away from the Arena Bowl. This is mostly due to the fact that last year they posted a relocating 2-14 effort. As I had said earlier, the key to the Gladiators postseason success was going to be an offense that continues to click as well as implementing a running game that is of second priority in the AFL. Coach of the Year Mike Wilpolt has done a tremendous job thus far in constantly changing up his offensive looks, and creating mismatches on every drive. In the second round of playoff action Philyaw proved once again that he should be recognized as one of the top QB’s in the league throwing what proved to be a game winning TD with a little over a minute to go against the Force for the 73-70 victory. See those highlights here:

It is hard to get a closer game than a three point margin, but the Philadelphia Soul were able to do it in round 2 versus New York. The soul came into the playoffs as a majority favorite to head to the Arena Bowl, but have stumbled showing their weakness against the Dragons.

Looks like a St Louis Ram’s situation only 1 yard closer.

Remember 17 Total Teams:
The Gladiators Post #3 Rushing Offensive going against the The Soul’s 15th Ranked Rush Defense.
The Soul and Gladiators are #1 and #2 in Pass Offense respectively. On the the pass defense Philadelphia sits at #5 and Cleveland at #15. These teams met twice in the regular season with the Soul taking both 67-55 and 62-61.

In the American Conference we will see defending Arena Bowl Champion #2 San Jose Sabrecats (12-5) host the #6 Grand Rapids Rampage (8-10) July 12th (ESPN 3:30 pm ET). The Rampage are without a doubt the story of the playoffs year, and are moving into a conference championship after knocking off top seed Chicago. We have to give much respect to Tucson Native and former teammate to Matt Randle “el”, QB James MacPherson. Against the Chicago Rush MacPherson did everything a QB could possibly do on his own to solidify a W. When all was said and done he completed 33 of 39 attempts for 326 yards and 6 touchdowns. Check out this highlight of him gunning a TD while laying down:

We here are the Bear Down now Support our GrandRapids/Tucson Boy, and thus will not be recapping San Jose’s efforts. Watch the highlights:

Team Comparison:
Passing Offensive: Rampage #6, SabreCats #7
Passing Defense: Rampage #10, SabreCats #3
Rushing Offense: Rampage #2, SabreCats #16

Grand Rapids and San Jose met only one time in the regular season during week 1 where the SabreCats came out on top 66-58.

What To Hope For: Grand Rapids vs. Cleveland in the Arena Bowl

4 Real Out….