National Arena Bowl II: Cobras-Lions a “David and Goliath” Game

The Carolina Cobras are hosting the Columbus Lions in National Arena Bowl II. This is the most “David and Goliath” related game anyone will ever see in the NAL. This is because the Carolina Cobras are an expansion team while the Columbus Lions are entering their fourth consecutive championship game.

National Arena Bowl II: Cobras-Lions a “David and Goliath” Game

The Cobras are one of the National Arena League’s (NAL) newest teams. They have found a lot of success in their first season. As soon as they joined the league, they instantly acquired Head Coach Billy Back. Back recruited a lot of elite players from the Indoor Football League (IFL), which played very well to have the success.

This ultimately helped the Cobras end on a 10-5 record in the regular season and annihilating the Jacksonville Sharks in the Semi-Finals round on August 14.

The Lions, on the other hand, are the very first team to join the NAL and appeared in the National Arena Bowl last year against the Sharks. In the past, the Lions were in two other championship games outside of the NAL.

Quarterbacks

The Cobras Quarterback, Charles McCullum, has secured the number one spot with the amount of touchdown passes with 87 touchdowns. In the regular season, McCullum was 296-of-492 for 3,313 for 87 touchdowns and 19 touchdowns. McCullum has also rushed 29 times for 79 yards and seven touchdowns, which increases his total touchdowns to 94.

Lions Quarterback Mason Espinosa has had quite an incredible season as well. He had a sprain in his leg late in the regular season, but has recently been activated. This news is huge for the Lions and their offense since they now have Espinosa back, Wide Receiver Jarmon Fortson back, and signed many different receivers to help the pass-game.

This season, Espinosa is 279-of-434 for 3,132 yards, 66 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. While Espinosa is almost 200 yards behind McCullum and 21 touchdowns behind, he has 12 less interceptions and has played in a fewer amount of games because of his injury.

Both quarterbacks are extremely dangerous when they are on the field, which will cause a very high scoring championship, unlike last season’s championship game.

Wide Receivers

Carolina Cobras

The Cobras have the most evenly-spread receiving core in the league. They have just about every receiver with almost the same numbers all season. This is a huge advantage to them because the Lions will not know who McCullum likes to target the most or who they think he will throw to. Tyron Laughinghouse currently leads the Cobras receivers with 70 receptions for 805 yards, and 21 touchdowns. Jordan Jolly is shortly behind with 68 catches for 797 yards and 19 touchdowns. Phillip Barnett totals 63 receptions for 644 yards and 21 touchdowns. Fabian Guerra is right with Barnett with receptions, but has him with yards. He has 61 receptions for 715 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Columbus Lions

Fortson was taken off of League Suspension and is now eligible to play. This season, Fortson leads the league in almost every receiving category with 104 catches for 1,029 yards and 31 touchdowns. The Lions recently signed Daryl Thompson, who played against the Lions in the Championship last year with the Jacksonville Sharks. Last season with the Sharks, Williams had 45 receptions for 635 yards and 11 touchdowns. In fear that Fortson wouldn’t play, they signed Thompson. They also signed the former Lion, himself, Terrence Ebogua. Ebogua hasn’t played football in a while, so he might have to shake some rust off before he can really get in the swing of things. He will likely be a receiver that is put in to replace a winded receiver on a couple plays. Not only did the Lions make these two signings, they got a former Cobras receiver. Jermaine Jones will now go to war against his old team and old coach and will play for the Lions. In 12 games with the Cobras this year, Jones totals five receptions for 70 yards and one touchdown.

Defensive Backs

When it comes to interceptions by the defensive backs, the Cobras have the Lions beat by a long shot. Of all 31 interceptions, 24 have came from defensive backs on the Cobras team. The leader in interceptions is Cedric Poole with eight interceptions for 86 return yards. Michael Green has seven interceptions for 130 yards and one touchdown. Ken Walton has two interceptions for nine yards.

The Cobras are a little behind on interceptions, as all 15 of their interceptions have came from defensive backs. The Lions have not scored on an interception as well. Kyle Griswould has six interceptions for 46 yards. Chris Pickett has five interceptions for 85 yards. Robert Sands has two interceptions for 17 yards.

McCullum has thrown a league-high 19 interceptions this season, so maybe the Lions defense will be able to sneak their way to increase that number a little bit more.

Total Offense

The Cobras throw 220.8 yards and 5.93 touchdowns per game. The Lions throw for 223.9 yards and 4.93 touchdowns per game.

The Cobras don’t have much of an established rush game, but they can sneak the ball to the fullback every once and a while. They average 16.7 rushing yards per game. The Lions, one the other hand, have the league’s leading rusher when it comes to average per game. As a Lions team, they average 29.9 rushing yards per game.

The Cobras put up 58.4 points on a normal night while the Lions score 51.5 points on average.

Total Defense

The Cobras defense allows an average of 205.1 passing yards per game while the Lions allow an average of 236.4 passing yards per game.

The Cobras allow an average of 22.3 yards per game. The Lions allow 15.7 yards per game.

When it comes to points allowed, there is nearly a 10-point difference per game. The Cobras blow the Lions out of the water, allowing only 39 points per game while the Lions allow 47.4 points per game.

In conclusion, this game will be a close game, especially since the Lions have their main puzzle pieces back together and signed many big-impact players. While the Cobras lead the Lions in almost every stat, the Lions could come back and show the Cobras that they are a serious contender for this NAL title.

National Arena Bowl II will be played on Monday, August 27 at 7:00 pm (E.T.) at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. For tickets, please call 336-455-7232.