Philadelphia Soul Week 1 Game Preview
The Philadelphia Soul will kick off the 2019 season on Saturday, April 27 at 3:30 pm against the Atlantic City Blackjacks. The three-time ArenaBowl champions will play host to the new expansion franchise at the Wells Fargo Center. Fans can watch live on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ or listen to the action on 97.5 The Fanatic.
After winning titles in 2016 and 2017, the Soul had a disappointing 2018 season that saw the team finish 7-5 and exit in the first round of the playoffs. However, this year's squad is looking to return to championship form.
"One thing that hasn't changed for the Philadelphia Soul: Our goal is to be the world champions," said Soul owner Ron Jaworski. "We were not last year. Our goal is to be the world champions this year."
Among those returning for the Soul are quarterback and former league MVP Dan Raudabaugh, 2018 Defensive Back of the Year James Romain, and 2018 First Team All-Arena wideout Darius Prince. Joining the experienced core are a number of promising new faces, including six AFL rookies.
"We've got the right guys. The right culture is growing here in Philly," Raudabaugh said when asked about the idea of bringing another title back to Philadelphia. "That's our job. That's our mission. Anything else is unacceptable."
The Soul are opening the season at home for the first time since 2008 after starting on the road in each of the last eight years. They are looking to win their fifth straight season opener, while the Blackjacks are playing their first-ever game. Atlantic City was one of two expansion teams to join the league this offseason, along with the Columbus Destroyers.
Despite the increased competition, Jaworski is still eager to bring home another title to the Philadelphia faithful.
"It's all about winning. And we know where the greatest fans in the world are...right here in Philadelphia."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Dan Raudabaugh
The nine-year AFL veteran returns after an injury-plagued 2018 campaign. Despite missing five games, he threw 36 touchdowns to just six interceptions while completing a career-high 69.4% of his passes.
2018 Season Statistics: 1,728 Pass yds, 36 Pass TDs, 6 INTs, 69.4% comp pct
WR Darius Prince
After a stint with the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF, Prince rejoined the Soul during training camp. The 2017 ArenaBowl MVP caught a team-high 24 touchdowns and ranked second in the league with 1,076 receiving yards last season.
2018 Season Statistics: 89 Receptions, 1,076 Rec yds, 24 Rec TDs
QB Randy Hippeard
After spending 2018 with the Baltimore Brigade, Hippeard was reunited with Atlantic City head coach Ron James this offseason. The pair previously worked together with the Tampa Bay Storm in 2017, a season in which Hippeard threw 80 touchdown passes and earned league MVP honors.
2018 Season Statistics (with Baltimore): 2,901 Pass yds, 61 Pass TDs, 5 INTs, 69.1% comp pct
WR Kendrick Ings
Ings will team up with quarterback Randy Hippeard for a third straight season. While he was limited to just three games last year, the receiver was one of Hippeard's favorite targets in 2017, catching 22 touchdown passes and racking up over 1,100 receiving yards.
2018 Season Statistics (with Baltimore): 8 Receptions, 104 Rec yds, 1 Rec TD
BY THE NUMBERS
32: 2018 AFL Defensive Back of the Year James Romain's 32 career interceptions are tied with Eddie Moten for the franchise record.
86: Wide receiver Darius Reynolds' 86 receiving touchdowns rank third in franchise history. He needs four more to tie Larry Brackins for second place on the franchise leaderboard.
7: The Soul return seven players who were named to All-Arena teams last season.
(First Team: WR Darius Prince, DE Jake Metz, DB James Romain; Second Team: WR Aaron Wascha, C PK Manley, OL Neal Tivis, DB Dwayne Hollis)
4: The Soul have won four straight season openers and boast a 10-3 record overall in such contests.
• Discuss this story on the Arena Football League message board...
Arena Football League Stories from April 24, 2019
- Week 1 Game Preview - Blackjacks vs Soul - Atlantic City Blackjacks
- Philadelphia Soul Week 1 Game Preview - Philadelphia Soul
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.