This is it. This is all that’s left. The Philadelphia Soul have fought their way back into the Arena Bowl to face the top-seeded Albany Empire in Albany at the Times Union Center. This is a “one game wins it all” situation, not to be confused with the last two weeks of the AFL playoffs that ran off an aggregate scoring system. The Soul won the second AFL playoff game against the Washington Valor, 48-41, adding seven more points to their aggregate score total. The +43 points advantage propelled Philadelphia to Arena Bowl 32, who was the third seed in the AFL playoffs.
On the other side of the AFL playoffs, the Albany Empire defeated the Baltimore Brigade in two straight games, similar to the way that the Philadelphia Soul handled the Washington Valor. After the first game for the Empire in the AFL playoffs, they had a +35 points advantage. The separation of the total AFL playoff aggregate score was a +76 in favor of Albany. As the top seed, the Empire kept their identity as favorites with the way they defeated the Brigade in those two games. Now, the two teams meet for the AFL championship at Arena Bowl 32. The Soul is one of two teams to defeat Albany in the regular season when starters played the full game.
Between the two teams representing the AFL in the Arena Bowl, the Albany Empire lead the all-time series, 4-3, in the seven total games played. The last win to give the Empire the all-time series advantage featured depth players on both teams in what was essentially comparable to a pre-season game in the NFL. Albany and the Philadelphia Soul had already secured their position in the playoffs before week thirteen of the AFL season. Arena Bowl 32 will be shown on ESPN2 at 8pm. You can also listen to live coverage of Arena Bowl 32 on 97.5FM The Fanatic.
2019 AFL Coach of the Year, Clint Dolezel, will face off against Rob Keefe, who was more than likely the runner up to the same award at the end of this season. This will be the sixth Arena Bowl appearance for the Philadelphia Soul, including the third Arena Bowl appearance in the last four years. The Soul will be looking for their fourth Arena Bowl championship on Sunday, August 11th. Between Philadelphia and the Albany Empire, twelve of the eighteen First Team All-Arena selections will be in action. This championship game will truly have the best players in the AFL on the same field. In a sense, Arena Bowl 32 is a high stakes all-star game.
The 2019 Defensive Back of the Year and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, James Romain, will be tasked to defend 2019 Wide Receiver of the Year, Malachi Jones. Romain has won the Defensive Back of the Year award for the second year in a row, while his 2019 Defensive Player of the Year honor was the first of his career. In the game where the Philadelphia Soul did defeat the Albany Empire this season, Romain was able to intercept Tommy Grady and his coverage assisted the Soul defensive line in sacking Grady for the first time of the season. Another player to focus on in the Arena Bowl is Dan Raudabaugh. He ranks second in Arena Bowl history with 1,101 passing yards.
If you are new to the AFL, imagine this game as the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles taking on the 2017 New England Patriots. The Albany Empire had a reign of terror all season in the AFL, only losing once to the Philadelphia Soul and their previous AFL playoff opponent, the Baltimore Brigade. The Soul finished with a 7-5 record in the 2019 AFL season and are the underdog going into Arena Bowl 32. Philadelphia, get your dog masks out and play Meek Mill as loud as you can. It’s time to walk out of Arena Bowl 32 with the fourth AFL championship in franchise history!