Week 13 Game Preview: Lions vs. Cobras

by Steven Shotola

07/16/2022 10:43 AM -


Shark Attack:  The Cobras’ trip to sunny Florida last week was sullied by a Jacksonville defense that created 5 straight empty Carolina possessions to start the game, leading to 34 unanswered Sharks points. D.J. Myers continued his string of excellent games, snagging 2 touchdown passes while Kendrick Ings and Tre Long also added scores for Carolina. The win gave Jacksonville a season series lead and has them tied for second place with Albany. The loss to Jacksonville was the second game without quarterback Jonathan Bane, and showed why a disruption to what is normally a well-oiled machine is never ideal- especially in a playoff race. A Cobras win on Saturday coupled with a Jacksonville loss, however, will guarantee the Cobras home field in the playoffs.

New Face(s) in the Place: In a 6-team league, personnel decisions are at a premium and the most successful GMs will be the ones able to think outside the box in order to make their teams better. That said, welcome to the Cobras Tommy Grady!  Grady is a 2-time NAL champion (Jacksonville, Albany) and was the MVP of ArenaBowl 32 with Albany in 2019. Grady had single greatest season in Arena League history with 142 touchdown passes and 5,863 passing yards.

If that wasn’t enough, the Cobras also added Joe Hills and Malachi Jones this week. Hills was the 2016 Offensive Player of the Year with Jacksonville and was AFL Wide Receiver of the Year with the Tampa Bay Storm in 2018. Jones, who attended Appalachian State, played for Coach Res for the High Country Grizzlies and also had great success in 2018 for the Atlanta Legends of the AAF.

Leading Men:  D.J. Myers continue his climb up the receiving charts, now in fifth place with 692 receiving yards thru 12 games. Lest ye forget, Myers lost a couple of games due to injury, and could be in a solid second place behind Albany’s Darius Prince (whose numbers are untouchable). Myers’ 16 touchdown catches are good enough for 6th in the NAL.

Last Meeting:  Saturday is the rubber match between the Cobras and Lions, with the Lions taking game 1 in Columbus 55-28 and Carolina exacting revenge two weeks ago 61-36. The Lions have played quarterback roulette much of the season and last week turned to a familiar face to help get things turned around: Mason Espinosa. The decorated football veteran took the reins last week and led the Lions to a 79-75 win over San Antonio. A new quarterback doesn’t necessarily mean the Cobras are preparing for a new offense, however. Darien Townsend and Jarmon Fortson were Espinosa’s main targets last week, and should be again.  

Coach Says:  “It’s been a tough few weeks since our leader went down in San Antonio. It’s never easy to replace the production that was there to that point. We brought in a couple guys to get us through till Bane’s return. Last Saturday in Jax was tough. I know it was tough for the fans to watch but was even worst being there in person. It’s like we had a melt down. After the game I said this ain’t happening again and I’m going to make some stuff happen going forward. We added some fire power to win these last couple games to lock up the #1 seed and home field. Let’s not forget we are also adding one of  the greatest DB’s that’s been in a Cobras uniform in “The General” Mike Green. We  needed a spark and a shake up to wake up from the funk we were in. We still have to play the game and execute, but I know Cobra Nation is going to be excited to attack this playoff push!” – Carolina Head Coach Josh Resignalo

Looking Ahead:  One game remains after Saturday, and it’s another trip to Jacksonville. The Cobras control their own destiny, which makes Saturday’s home finale so important.