This Saturday, the National Arena League (NAL) kicks off their 2019 season with a bang.
The defending NAL Champions, Carolina Cobras, travel to Worcester, MA to take on the defending league MVP and the Massachusetts Pirates. Three exciting matchups are set to happen, but let’s dive deeper into this one.
NAL Week 1 Preview: Carolina Cobras @ Massachusetts Pirates
Who: Carolina Cobras @ Massachusetts Pirates
When: Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 7:00 pm (E.T.)
Where: DCU Center, Worcester, MA
The reigning NAL Champions, Carolina Cobras, look to start off the 2019 season exactly where they left off from 2018 with a dominating 66-8 victory over the Columbus Lions in the NAL Championship last August. Both squads have different rosters than last year, so what should we expect in this game?
Promising Pirates Offense
The Pirates were fortunate enough to keep 2018 NAL MVP Sean Brackett this season. Not only is he staying, but the Pirates have acquired Fullback Quayvon Hicks, who was named First Team All-NAL Offense.
This powerful QB/FB duo will keep every defense in the league guessing on what the Pirates will do with the ball. They could sneak a run at the most surprising moment or they could use the gunslinger arm that Brackett has.
Receivers for the Pirates include Devonn Brown, Mardy Gilyard, Lavon Pearson, Tavares Martin Jr., and Thomas Owens. There are some familiar faces as well as some new faces when it comes to this Pirates team.
The Pirates Offensive Line is struggling since last season, losing all of their starting guys on the front line. This brings a lot of concern to the table for Massachusetts because they won’t have that firm foundation of protecting the quarterback and opening holes for the fullback to run through.
For the Pirates sake, hopefully they will be able to get their O-Line to step it up in this very important first week.
When it comes to the Pirates defense, there are less than a handful of players returning. Last season, the Pirates dominated on almost everything defensively until the playoffs.
With a new set of defensive players, there is no telling what the Pirates are capable of. Just like their O-Line, they better hope that they can keep up with this Cobras team.
New Champions in Town
The Carolina Cobras are the new champions and they are ready to compete for another title. They kept Quarterback Charles McCullum, who has broken nearly every single passing record in NAL history, and somehow still managed to not get a single award for his achievements.
Even though it’s a new season, McCullum should still definitely use it as fuel to motivate him to do even better and secure a legue award of some sort.
There are really no issues with the Cobras offense outside of the fact that their Offensive Line is changing a little bit as well.
Some players left, some players stayed, and they have to make the most with what they have. The same goes for their receivers. They have a couple star receivers from last year move up to the AFL and some receivers stay.
WR Fabian Guerra is among one of those who was with a series of teams before finally deciding to re-join the Cobras. He played for the Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) and then was taken for a short period of time by the Columbus Destroyers in the AFL.
On the defensive side, they are looking to have a strong D-Line as well as a solid set of Defensive Backs. The Cobras have just the right number of players returning from last year to make things perfectly fine for them.
This game could possibly go down right to the wire or even overtime. Both teams better be careful because they have to face each other just seven days after this first matchup.
They don’t want to be too predictable for their second game. This game could simply come down to who has lost the most players. With the season just starting, mistakes will happen.
Right now, the Pirates are looking to struggle a little bit more than the Cobras are when it comes to players leaving. The Cobras should be able to win this game, but it will be an extremely tough game.