The Inaugural National Arena League (NAL) regular-season has ended and it’s finally time for the playoffs! Here’s what you can expect for this first playoff game with the Columbus Lions-Lehigh Valley Steelhawks matchup.
Matchup: #3 Columbus Lions at #2 Lehigh Valley Steelhawks
Arena: PPL Center
Location: Allentown, PA
Time: Friday, June 23, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Columbus Lions at Lehigh Valley Playoff Preview
The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (9-1) host the Columbus Lions (9-3) in the first ever NAL Playoff game. The last time these two faced each other, it went down to the final play going in the Steelhawks’ favor on their home turf.
Columbus Lions Preview
For Columbus, Darren Daniel, Michael Reeve, and Jarmon Fortson have been quite the trio.
Daniel has had an outstanding year by throwing 134 of 225 for 1,476 yards, 37 touchdowns, and only six interceptions in just eight games.
Daniel also leads the Lions in rushing. He has 24 attempts for 55 yards, and six touchdowns. Although he may be the leader in rushing for the team, the Lions give the ball to others to run it pretty evenly, so it’s not just one person running the whole time.
Reece and Fortson have combined for 134 receptions for 1,470 yards, and 34 touchdowns.
With these three, the Lions offense has scored an average of 58.1 points per game this season.
As for The Lions defense, Kyle Griswould is the team’s leader for interceptions, racking up 10 interceptions for 190 yards and four pick-six plays!
Griswould not only lead the team with interceptions, he also leads the team with total tackles with 35.5.
The player with the most sacks for this defense is Logan Ingle who sits with 11 total sacks on the season.
The Lions defense has allowed 34.4 points per game this season. This Columbus Lions defense means business when it’s time to get serious.
Lehigh Valley Steelhawks Preview
The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks have been arguably been the best team in the NAL this season both on offense and defense. Here’s why.
Steelhawks Quarterback Warren Smith Jr. leads the league in passing yards with 1,953 yards. He threw 169 of 256 for 1,953 yards, 56 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
Darius Prince and Warren Oliver combine for 104 catches for 1,270 yards, and 35 touchdowns.
This time, Lehigh Valley has someone other than the quarterback leading the rushing for the team.
The Steelhawks have Wyreaz Bradley to hold the team with 59 carries for 241 yards and eight touchdowns.
This offense also spreads the workload to other receivers, unlike Columbus and their main two receivers.
Brandon Renford for the Steelhawks has 47 catches for 546 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Another reason why this Steelhawks offense can be the toughest offense in the NAL. The Steelhawks offense has averaged 61 points per game this season.
On the defensive side of the ball, we are looking at more elite players. Rodney Hall Jr. leads the Steelhawks in interceptions with seven for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
Although that may not seem like a lot, Eddie Davis III also has seven interceptions for 37 yards and 0 touchdowns. Hall Jr. also leads this Lehigh Valley defense in tackles with 44.5.
Tommy Dover leads the team in total sacks with 8.5 this season. The Steelhawks defense has allowed an average of 34.9 points per game this season.
What To Look For
The Lions and Steelhawks both score and allow almost the same amount of points per game. While offense is great for clutch situations, the defense will have to play phenomenal for the team that wants to win more.
Both teams can score, but this game is not necessarily who can score the most, but who will hold the other team to scoring the least.
This means both teams can’t afford to miss extra points. A deuce could become a team’s best friend in this game.
Both teams have great interception machines. Quarterbacks will have to really watch out on where they are putting the ball and who is on each receiver.
Fans can tune into the game by searching National Arena League on YouTube this Saturday.