Coming off of a three-game homestand, winning two of those games, the Philadelphia Soul (4-4) embark on a short week to face the Columbus Destroyers (1-7) on Saturday, June 22nd at the Nationwide Arena. This road game could be just the thing to get the Soul off of their game on a short week, but with the way that the Soul defense and special teams have been playing, the Soul has a golden opportunity to turn in a winning record. A loss would be a punishing blow to any momentum gained from the Soul’s wins at home and wouldn’t really help out the Destroyers season.
Last week, the Columbus Destroyers fell victim to the Baltimore Brigade. “They’re very hungry and want a win,” said Philadelphia Soul fullback, Adrian Ferns. “Every team can beat every team in this league.” The Atlantic City Blackjacks, who the Soul just defeated this past Sunday, was also the team that lost to the Destroyers in their only win on the season. This is a game that absolutely favors the Soul and it’s still a must win because Philadelphia needs to collect wins to climb the playoff seeding.
Something that I always felt that gave an advantage to a road team depended heavily on where they were traveling from. What I mean is that the Philadelphia Soul, playing in Philadelphia, are held up high because of the market that they play in, the talent in the same city, and the perception that gives. This brings the loudest of supporters, but also mass amounts of just as loud haters. Since that is what these players are used to in Philadelphia, defensive back Dwayne Hollis provides confirmation to my theory, “it’s ‘Us Against The World’ when we go on the road. I like playing on the road, it’s like motivation [for] the whole game. The crowd booing you, I kinda like that.” Hollis, who had an interception against the Atlantic City Blackjacks, aims to bring that defensive performance with him Saturday against the Columbus Destroyers.
Philadelphia Soul head coach, Clint Dolezel, among steering his team back towards a winning season with a victory on Saturday would tie current Washington Redskins head coach, Jay Gruden, for seventh in wins all-time in the Arena Football League. It could be Dolezel’s 93rd all-time win, 82nd with the Soul. Columbus Destroyers head coach, Matt Sauk, could improve his team to two wins on the season and his overall total amount of wins with the Destroyers to 2. Currently, the all-time record between the Soul and the Destroyers favors the Soul, 7-4. Three weeks ago, the Soul won their most recent matchup against the Destroyers in Philadelphia, 47-35.
Last week, playoff implications were at a season high-stakes as the Philadelphia Soul found themselves in a must-win game to clinch a tiebreaker against the Atlantic City Blackjacks. The Soul reached a season-high in points and allowed a season-low in defense against the Blackjacks, winning 54-29. Before the Soul arrived at the Wells Fargo Center to play the Blackjacks, they knew that they were in survival mode when it came to a playoff push. James Romain was the one to carry the fire into the game against the Blackjacks after the loss to the Washington Valor. After the win against the Blackjacks, the Soul seems to be riding on the vibe from Dwayne Hollis and the momentum from Adrian Ferns.
On offense, the Philadelphia Soul seemed to be doing everything right, routing the Atlantic City Blackjacks and resting starting players. Quarterback, Dan Raudabaugh, completed a season-high 83% of his passes for three touchdowns while only playing three quarters. Quarterback, Danny Southwick, would relieve Raudabaugh in the fourth quarter, throwing a touchdown of his own to Jordan Williams. In Raudabaugh’s previous game against the Columbus Destroyers, he threw for six touchdowns.
Defensively, the Philadelphia Soul were able to create pressure against the Atlantic City Blackjacks. Thomas Dover had two sacks and Sean Daniels had one sack, pressuring both quarterbacks on the Atlantic City depth chart all night long. Quarterback, Randy Hippeard, was taking big hits, injured early in the second quarter after throwing a touchdown pass to Kendrick Ings. The pressure would hurt the Blackjacks in other ways, such as helping Warren Smith throw an interception to defensive back Dwayne Hollis. The Columbus Destroyers are the worst in the AFL at defending the pass rush, allowing twenty sacks this season. That’s as many as the rest of the AFL combined!
The Columbus Destroyers are going to be on their home turf, hosting the Philadelphia Soul, and they have nothing to lose. Usually, that’s what makes a team dangerous, but what about the team that has everything to gain? Saturday, in Columbus at the Nationwide Arena at 7 pm, all of the AFL fans are going to be treated to a scrappy competition between two teams who are hungry with two different stories. Will the Philadelphia Soul be on the road to righting this season to the playoffs? Will the Columbus Destroyers attempt to play spoiler to everyone in the AFL? Watch on NBCSP+ or ESP3. Listen on 97.5FM The Fanatic.