Big news out of the Arena Football League this week. After much speculation regarding the ownership situations of the New Orleans VooDoo and the Las Vegas Outlaws, the league announced on Tuesday that they have taken control of both franchises.
New Orleans has struggled to find a consistent product on the field the past several years and attendance at the Smoothie King Center has been severely effected. What was once one of the best crowds in the AFL has become a ghost town of sorts. As for Las Vegas, the team has had one hell of a bumpy road. When the AFL lost Pittsburgh, San Antonio, and Iowa, it was widely speculated the AFL rushed the expansion team a year earlier than intended. The attendance at the Thomas & Mack Center as seen a consistant decline, including reportedly a little over 1,000 people at a home game (the numbers were adjusted, for obvious reasons). There were many signs that Vegas was in trouble, from cheap uniforms to being unable to pay a cleaning bill of the home jerseys to reports that Arena staff had not been paid.
The league has also announced that the game between the VooDoo and the Outlaws (to be held in Vegas) will be cancelled, as the league won’t pay travel costs to operate a game between two teams under their ownership. The result will be a tie for both teams. The VooDoo and the Outlaws are the fourth and fifth teams to have been taken over by the league since 2010. The earlier teams were Chicago (3 times), San Antonio, and Orlando. Of those three teams, the Predators are the only team still active, which doesn’t bode well for the futures of the VooDoo and the Outlaws.
Commissioner Scott Butera has made it clear that he intends to find ownership for both teams. More information will be sure to follow, but for now let’s recap Week 16 with the scores and award winners.
New Orleans VooDoo 35, San Jose SaberCats 56
Cleveland Gladiators 56, Philadelphia Soul 72
Orlando Predators 69, Tampa Bay Storm 62
Las Vegas Outlaws 43, Arizona Rattlers 57
Jacksonville Sharks 48, Portland Thunder 72
Spokane Shock 28, Los Angeles KISS 34
Week 16 AFL MVP: WR Rod Windsor, Arizona Rattlers
The defensive backs for the Las Vegas Outlaws was set on fire last week, and Rod Windsor was the match that set them ablaze. The Rattlers WR hauled in 8 passes for 113 yards and 4 touchdowns en route to a 57-43 victory at the Snake Pit. Windsor has been difficult to stop, hauling in at least one touchdown in 25 consecutive games. Going into Week 17, Windsor has 199 career touchdowns, 1 touchdown short of the 200 mark, and 16 shy of becoming the all-time leader in touchdown receptions in Arizona Rattlers history.
SaberCats WR Reggie Gray and Soul WR Harvey Binford were also nominated for Week 16 MVP.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Week: QB Randy Hippeard, Orlando Predators
The war on I-4 added another chapter to its long and storied rivalry, and this week’s MVP has seen action on both sides. Hippeard, a former member of the Storm last season, had a game to remember as the Predators escaped Amaile Arena with a 69-62 victory. Hippeard picked apart the Storm defense, going 24 of 33 for 346 yards and 7 touchdown passes. He’s been one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the AFL this year, leading the league in quarterback rating (75.6) and completion percentage (75.6)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Week: DB Ken Fontenette, San Jose SaberCats
A surefire lock for defensive player of the year, Fontenette recorded an astonishing 17.5 tackles in San Jose’s victory over the visiting New Orleans VooDoo. In the process, he tied the record for most tackles recorded in a single game. His historic feat didn’t end there; Fontenette also broke SaberCats Hall of Famer Omarr Smith’s single-season franchise record of tackles in a season with 121.5 total tackles. Fontenette’s tackles now rank 10th all time in a single season.
For the complete list of winners, check out the official AFL Website.
Now for the updated league leading statistics:
Passing Yardage: 4,294; Dan Raudabaugh, Philadelphia
Passing Touchdowns: 101; Dan Raudabaugh, Philadelphia
Interceptions Thrown: 20; Jason Boltus, Tampa Bay
Completion Percentage: 75.6%; Randy Hippeard, Orlando
QB Rating: 139.7; Randy Hippeard, Orlando
Rushing Attempts: 119; Derrick Ross, Jacksonville
Rushing Yards: 473; Derrick Ross, Jacksonville
Rushing Touchdowns: 27; Derrick Ross, Jacksonville
Receptions: 133; Reggie Gray, San Jose
Receiving Yards: 1,636; Tiger Jones, Jacksonville
Receiving Touchdowns: 37; Reggie Gray, San Jose
Returns: 77; Brandon Thompkins, Orlando
Yards: 1,641; Duane Brooks, Portland
Touchdowns: 6 (tied); Duane Brooks, Portland & A.J. Cruz, Arizona
Sacks: 14.0; Joe Sykes, Jacksonville
Interceptions: 12; Jeremy Kellem, Arizona
Return Yards: 105; Joe Phinisee, Cleveland
Pick-Six Touchdowns: 3; Joe Phinisee, Cleveland
That’s it for this week. Enjoy the weekend and some Arena Football action.
Week 17 Schedule:
Friday, July 17th:
Arizona Rattlers (12-2; 6-1 Away) at Spokane Shock (4-10; 2-5 Home)
Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, Spokane, Washington
10:00 PM (EST), 7:00 PM (PST)
Saturday, July 18th:
Orlando Predators (9-6; 4-4 Away) at Cleveland Gladiators (7-8; 2-4 Home)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
6:00 PM (EST), 3:00 PM (PST) on CBS Sports Network
Philadelphia Soul (13-2; 5-2 Away) at Jacksonville Sharks (7-7; 4-2 Home)
Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida
7:00 PM (EST), 4:00 PM (PST)
Tampa Bay Storm (6-8; 2-4 Away) at New Orleans VooDoo (2-12; 2-6 Home)
Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
8:00 PM (EST), 5:00 PM (PST)
Las Vegas Outlaws (5-9; 2-5 Away) at Los Angeles KISS (3-11; 2-5 Home)
Honda Center, Anaheim, California
10:00 PM (EST), 7:00 PM (PST)
Portland Thunder (4-10; 0-6 Away) at San Jose SaberCats (14-1; 6-1 Home)
SAP Center at San Jose, San Jose, California
10:30 PM (EST), 7:30 PM (PST)