By Anthony Caruso III
Posted: March 15th, 2014 at 12:28 am EST
The Philadelphia Soul are presently in Arizona waiting to face the Arizona Rattlers on Saturday night.
The Rattlers has ended the Soul’s season the past two years. Each time the Soul would lose to the Rattlers in the ArenaBowl.
But this year with no neutral ArenaBowl site, the Soul are hoping that they can make it to the ArenaBowl for the third straight year. The Rattlers have made the ArenaBowl for the past three years, so there is some hope that the Soul can make it.
Yet, the Rattlers lost in 2011 to the Jacksonville Sharks, before beating the Soul for the past two years. Soul linebacker Rayshaun Kizer believes that the third time will be the charm for the Soul.
“That’s what we’re hoping,” said Kizer. “That’s our goal again this year is to get back to the ArenaBowl. It’s basically the same team, except for a few new players. We are happy with who we have on the team, and we want that ArenaBowl championship. To lose these past two years have been extremely tough, because you are so close, but so far away.”
In 2012, the Rattlers and Soul played the ArenaBowl in New Orleans, Louisiana, before the ArenaBowl last summer was played in Orlando, Florida. Yet, the Soul players want to have the ArenaBowl in Philadelphia.
The Soul has never hosted an ArenaBowl in the team’s history.
“It would be unbelievable.,” said Kizer. “We have a tough fan base in Philadelphia, and we typically fill the arena out for each home game, as we have a good marketing team that helps bring fans in to the games. That’s what we’re aiming for, as we want home field advantage. It would be a huge advantage to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs and the ArenaBowl.”
The Soul did not have home field advantage last year in the playoffs. The Sharks had home field advantage, before losing to the Soul in the American Conference Championship game for the second straight year.
In 2012, the Soul beat the Sharks at the Wells Fargo Center in the American Conference Championship game.
“We have shown teams that we can play on the road and win in the playoffs,” said Kizer. “Our biggest hurdle has been the ArenaBowl. We believe that our luck is going to change this year. You can only get to the ArenaBowl so many times, before other teams will have the opportunities to play for the championship. And when you have that chance to win the Arena Football League championship, you have to win it. It would be huge to bring another Soul championship back to Philadelphia.”
The Soul has not won the ArenaBowl championship since the 2008 season. Larry Brackins is the only current Soul member that was on the 2008 team that won the ArenaBowl over the San Jose SaberCats, 59-56, in 2008.
Kizer and Brackins are two of the 14 returning players to the Soul. The team also has 10 new players.
Yet, Kizer does not believe that will affect the team chemistry.
“No, we’re going to help these new guys grow,” said Kizer. “We welcome all of the newcomers here, and it’s a great honor to be apart of the Philadelphia Soul. It’s a great organization with great coaches. It’s the best place to play if you ask me.”