As the sun was setting in the West, a new era was dawning on the East Coast. Anticipation and excitement were in the air as the growing Arena Football League was getting ready for the 2019 kickoff! Warriors from the Washington Valor took a short 40-mile trip up to battle their Baltimore neighbors for the Maryland crown. An exciting rivalry was opening its next chapter!
Soldiers from both sides strapped on their battle armor. Shiny new helmets were slipped upon their heads. Game faces peered through the face-masks, and then…the kickoff! The 2019 season was underway to the tune of 5,200 fans echoing their excitement throughout Royal Farms Arena.
It was a lightning fast, back-and-forth battle, until the second half when the Brigade took a two-score lead that they wouldn’t let go of–despite the valiant effort from the Valor. On paper, Washington seemed to have the better offense. The racked up 51 points and 402 yards on 43 plays. Arvell Nelson was firing cannons all over the field. Valor rookie receiver Dezmon Epps let everyone know who he is by breaking the franchise record with 201 receiving yards on nine catches–4 of which were touchdowns!
While the Valor fired cannons, the Brigade was somehow able to defeat them with BB’s–Boyds and Brandons. Shane Boyd, the MVP of the game completed 19 passes for 232 yards and six touchdowns (3 to Joe Hills) without turning the ball over. The Baltimore Brandons were relentless as Brandon Thompkins finished with five catches, 58 yards, and a touchdown. Brandon Collins added another touchdown, but the greatest performance might have been new kicker Brandon Brown. He finished with one field goal and made all 8 of his extra point attempts, which was the difference in the 59-51 final score. “It’s my first game out,” he said after the game. “To be honest, it’s only been a week since I’ve gotten to know how arena football works.”
Perhaps, the special team’s play was one of the largest factors in this game. The Brigade had five returns for 140 yards, making for short drives. The Valor had six returns for only 46 yards. Despite Washington’s QB, Arvell Nelson, throwing for eight touchdowns, he threw a pair of costly interceptions to Joe Powell–who also led the Brigade with 6.5 tackles.
It was exciting football in an exciting league. Friday’s match-up between the Philadelphia Soul and the Baltimore Brigade can’t come soon enough! Baltimore will host the leagues oldest franchise in an effort to improve to 2-0. Meanwhile, the Valor travel to Albany to take on an intense defense in the Empire. That game will be played Saturday at 7 PM EST.