by Joshua Russell
August 25, 2016 - Arena Football League (AFL)
American Conference Champions Philadelphia Soul (15-3) at National Conference Champions Arizona Rattlers (15-3)
Location: Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona
TV: Friday August 26, 7:00 ET, ESPN
Spread: Arizona -8.5
Playoff Results: Philadelphia defeated Tampa Bay in the Quarterfinals 63-41 and edged out Jacksonville 55-50 in the American Conference Championship game.
Arizona disposed of the Portland Steel 84-40 in the Quarterfinals and coasted past Cleveland in the National Conference Championship game, 82-41.
Arena Bowl Appearances/Championships: Philadelphia Soul 3/1(XXII) Arizona Rattlers 9/5(VIII, XI, XXV, XXVI, XXVII)
Previous Meetings This Season: Week 7- Philadelphia 65-Arizona 58; Week 12-Arizona 80-Philadelphia 63
How they got to the Arena Bowl:
Philadelphia Soul: The Soul ended last season in disappointment as they were upset by Jacksonville in the American Conference Championship after finishing the regular season with the best record in the AFL. The Soul used that loss as motivation as they again claimed the first seed in the American Conference with a 15-3 record. The Soul scored the second most points in the league this year. QB Dan Raudabaugh won the 2015 AFL MVP award and followed that up with another spectacular season, finishing second in the league in passing yards (4,303) and touchdowns (101). The offense overall finished the season with 61.4 points per game. The defense finished second in sacks with 22 and led the league in interceptions with 25. Tracy Belton led the AFL in INTs with 9 and Jake Metz led the league in sacks with 8. Philadelphia ended the year with a four game winning streak and went 7-1 at home.
Arizona Rattlers: The Rattlers finished last season in similar fashion as the Soul as they lost in the National Conference Championship game, 70-67. Arizona had the lead with 20 seconds to go but San Jose was able to pull off the late rally to deny the Rattlers. Arizona started the season hot out of the gates with a 5-0 record but then dropped two straight and three out of four overall. They would finish the season on a seven game winning streak and averaged 20 more points than their opponents in that span. The Rattlers finished this season with an undefeated home record (8-0) and dominated both playoff games. Arizona has scored the most points in the league, averaging 66.8 per game and scored 80 points twice in the regular season. QB Nick Davila led the league in TDs with 110 and completions with a 69.6% success rate. Davila was protected by C Jordan Mudge who was named the AFL Offensive linemen of the year. The defense led the league in sacks with 29 and recovered 16 fumbles to go along with 19 INTs as they led the AFL in turnovers with 35.
Offense: Soul-QB Dan Raudabaugh 2nd Team All-Arena Offense (69.3% completions, 4303 yds, 101 TD) FB Jeramie Richardson 2nd Team All-Arena Offense (103 rushes-321 yds-20 TD) WR Darius Reynolds (112 rec, 1447 yds, 38 TDs) Shaun Kauleinamoku (99 rec, 1304 yds, 26 TD) OL Adam Smith 1st Team All-Arena Offense, OL Neal Tivis 2nd Team All-Arena Offense, C Wayne Tribue 2nd Team All-Arena Offense
Rattlers- QB Nick Davila 1st Team All-Arena Offense (69.6% completions, 4198 yds, 110 TD), FB Mykel Benson 1st Team All-Arena Offense (75 rushes, 199 yds, 20 TD), WR Rod Windsor (145 rec, 1667 yds, 48 TD), C Jordan Mudge 2016 AFL Offensive Lineman of the Year
Defense: Soul- DB Tracy Belton 2016 AFL Defensive Back of the Year (9 INTs, 3 returned for TD), DL Jake Metz 2016 AFL Defensive Lineman of the Year (7 sacks), DL Teddy Jennings 2nd Team All-Arena Defense (5 sacks), JLB Joe Goosby 1st Team All-Arena Defense (70 tackles, 2 INT), DB Dwayne Hollis 2nd Team All-Arena Defense (8 INTs)
Rattlers- DL Damien Borel 1st Team All-Arena Defense (6.5 sacks), NG Dimetrio Tyson 2nd Team All-Arena Defense (6 sacks), MLB Tyre Glasper 1st Team All-Arena Defense (4 sacks), DB Arkeith Brown (6 INTs, 2 returned for TD)
Special Teams: Soul- K Tommy Frevert 1st Team All-Arena Offense (124 Pts Scored) KR Chris Duvalt (49 returns, 878 yds, 1 TD)
Rattlers-K Alex Zendejas (100 Pts Scored), KR Anthony Amos (69 returns, 1206 yds, 4 TD)
Interesting Notes: This is the third time Arizona and Philadelphia have met in the Arena Bowl. Arizona won Arena Bowl XXV 72-54 and Arena Bowl XXVI 48-39. Both those games were hosted at neutral locations. This is the first time Arizona will host the championship game...The Soul's win over the Rattlers in Week 7 was the first time Philadelphia has defeated Arizona in eight attempts.