Arena Football Re-Launches This Week – And You Can Get In Free
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
The Rose City’s Arena Football League team has been the subject of a ton of off-season headlines. Since the last snap was taken in the Moda Center, here are some of the things that have changed:
• The league took over the Portland Thunder from owner Terry Emmert
• Emmert owned the trademarks so the team was relaunched as the Portland Steel
• Three head coaches from the end of last season to kickoff on Friday
• New players like All-Arena quarterback Shane Austin brought on to the team
Finally, after an off-season where the off-field stories dominated the press, Arena Football will return to Portland and the new-look Portland Steel can let their play speak for them. However, the test they have incoming is no small feat: the division rival Arizona Rattlers.
The Rattlers are perennial contenders, arguably in the middle of a powerful dynasty. They made it to the Arena Bowl for 4 straight years, from 2011-2014 and they won 3 of those (beating the then-Portland Thunder on the way to the championship in 2014). Last year, they fell short of making their 5th straight Arena Bowl by falling to the San Jose SaberCats, the eventual champions, by 3 points. However, since then, the SaberCats have left the Arena Football League, making Arizona, in a roundabout way, the only surviving defending champion the league has right now.
Lead by the Latin Laser (it’s actually his Twitter handle), Nick Davila, the Rattlers have long-time leadership under center. This will be Davila’s 6th season with the Rattlers (he won all of the team’s championships in this recent run) and his 9th in the AFL overall. Although his numbers aren’t dazzling (5th in the 12 team league in QB rating, 6th in passing yards and 5th in completion percentage), Davila is a proven winner. In fact, Davila threw a touchdown pass with just 40 seconds left in the Conference Championship to give the Rattlers the lead – it took an answering TD by San Jose with just 8 seconds left to deny the Rattlers their 5th straight Arena Bowl. In addition, Rattlers head coach Kevin Guy has been with Arizona since 2008.
On the other side, the Portland Steel have a lot to prove and haven’t really had a chance to play together on the field. Likely quarterback Shane Austin was with the Cleveland Gladiators the year before. Head coach Ron James was the defensive coordinator with the Gladiators as well. One the headline wide receivers will be Nick Truesdell who is joining the Steel from the now defunct Spokane Shock. A familiar name to Oregon Duck fans, the Steel acquired former Duck Colt Lyerla in a trade during the offseason and he will be making his debut with the Steel this week. Some of the returning players of the Steel are linebacker Bryce Peila, offensive lineman John Collins and backup quarterback (presumably), Danny Southwick. The unit has a lot of Arena experience and seemingly a ton of talent but not much time playing together.
The teams will open their respective 2016 campaigns on Friday at the Moda Center. Not only is it Opening Night but the Steel will be starting their re-launch on national TV, earning the spotlight of the game of the week on the CBS Sports Network. To bolster the efforts, the team is looking to pack the Moda Center (using the #FillTheBowl to drive their efforts). Fans are even able to get free general admission tickets to the game by visiting the Steel’s website, pdxsteel.com.
The Portland Steel launch their season (and re-launch their franchise) on Friday at 7 P.M. at the Moda Center.
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