PHILADELPHIA, PA – Coming into this afternoon’s contest against the Washington Valor, the Philadelphia Soul had a 36-point advantage in aggregate scoring thanks to a 69-33 win last week. In the second leg, a much closer contest still allowed the Soul to advance.
The Soul defeated the Valor 48-41 in front of more than 8,500 fans, clinching the aggregate point total by a score of 117-74.
When asked about the performance of his defense, Soul Head Coach Clint Dolezel said that it was a complete effort to keep Washington’s mobile quarterback Arvell Nelson tamped down for both games.
Accomplishing that, the team was able to perform to their best level, while simultaneously keeping the Valor off balance.
“It went hand in hand,” Dolezel said. “Our coverage in the secondary was unbelievable both games. We made them hold the ball. We did a good job of controlling [Nelson].”
Going into another ArenaBowl with a veteran core was also a major plus for Dolezel.
“That’s the beauty of the vets that we brought back,” Dolezel added. “They’ve been there, done that with us. You always try to bring your core back and keep them intact, and we do.
“[James] Romain down the middle on the defensive side, Dan [Raudabaugh] on the offensive side, Money [Darius Reynolds], now Aaron. I like our flow, I like what we’ve got going into it offensively, and we know it’s gonna be an uphill battle.”
Dolezel also said that he had looked to try and get Soul backup quarterback Patrick O’Brien in for the fourth quarter, but that his ”competitive juices” overtook that plan.
In the postgame media scrum, Soul Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh broke down what he saw from his point of view. The team was four for six in the red zone, but the complexion of the game was different, due to the high number of onside kicks attempted by the Valor to try and make up the scoring deficit.
Raudabaugh also touched on the team’s run game, which had one touchdown on four attempts.
“Gotta execute in the run game a little more, but in a game like this, when their back’s against the wall, you gotta be prepared for anything,” Raudabaugh said. “I think we need to tighten that up, but I’m proud of our guys. It’s a testament to the hard work all year long.”
“Receivers are making plays and we’re where we want to be right now,” Raudabaugh added.
He also broke down what was expected of players on the team, noting that defensive back Torez Jones had taken an onside kick recovery in for a touchdown. For Raudabaugh, it all came down to one thing.
“Do your job. Do your one eighth,” Raudabaugh added. ”If that’s your spot right there, and we ask you to recover the football, that’s your job. And he’s done a great job. He’s had, what, two touchdowns the last two weeks on that, and then a few other recoveries.”
For wide receiver and ArenaBowl XXX MVP Darius Prince, who snagged three touchdowns in the second leg of the series, the Valor were a worthy opponent in the first round.
“You gotta respect them,” Prince said. “They won an ArenaBowl last year, their front line is really good, Arvell [Nelson] is arguably an MVP of this league. Without him on their team [this season] they’re not who they are.”
“So much respect to them. I got a lot of guys I got love for and they’re gonna bring it. Regardless of being down by 36, they brought it tonight,” He added.
And when it came time to shift focus to ArenaBowl XXXII, Prince said there was just one thing for the Soul to do.
“We just gotta focus and lock in,” Prince said. “it’s been 15, 16 weeks we’ve been at it now. We got one week left. This is what your play the game for. You play the game for the big dance at the end.”
“All your hard work,” Prince added. “Waking up, going to practice every day, putting in the extra time in the weight room, watching film. Doing that throughout the week…This is what it comes down to. You got no choice but to go out there and give it your all.”
SOUL SNIPPETS: The Soul will head on the road next weekend to face the Albany Empire at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY…kickoff time will be 8:00 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN2…Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh was 12 for 26, good for five touchdowns and no interceptions…The Soul were led in receiving by Darius Prince who had six receptions for 93 yards and three scores…Soul Running Back Adrians Ferns rushed for one touchdown and caught another in the game…Malik Forrester led the soul defensive line with three sacks, as Tyrell Robinson and Sean Daniels each added another.