WEEK 2 PREVIEW: Cobras vs. Warbirds

by Steven Shotola

GREENSBORO, NC –  After a very close 41-40 game in the season opener in South Texas the (0-1) Carolina Cobras return home to prepare for their season opener at the Greensboro Coliseum this Sunday, April 16 at 3pm against the (0-1) West Texas Warbirds who suffered their first lost in Odessa, TX against the (1-0) Jacksonville Sharks 54-26.

Offensively the Cobras look like they have a playoff caliber lineup boasting two receivers that combined for three touchdowns with Jalen Rima and Lance Evans while the team’s leading scorer quarterback Charles McCullum posted five touchdowns with two coming from the running game. Not a bad returning debut from the former NAL championship MVP and Cobras NAL champion quarterback. The Cobras running game looked unstoppable in the 3rd quarter as FB/DL Kyle Voyles who scored on a 18-yard rushing touchdown, a two-point conversion. With the return of FB/LB Zack Brown we anticipate an impressive rushing attack between the rookie Voyles and All-NAL veteran Brown. The fans would love to see more from the Cobras ground and pound especially with All-NAL offensive lineman Derrick Zeigler leading the charge.

Defensively, we saw the Cobras have a powerful first quarter that led to multiple pass breakups from defensive back Kerion Jones and quarterback pressure from the defensive line that shut out the San Antonio Gunslingers in the first quarter. That momentum that we saw at the start hit a rock bottom in the second quarter as Gunslingers Arvell Nelson lit up the score board. Carolina gave up 19 points in the second quarter, the largest lead they would allow the rest of the game. However, a strong third quarter from the defensive gave the Cobras the comeback performance that Cobra nation is used to. Playmaker defensive lineman Sha’Haun Williams cost the Gunslingers a scoring drive with a fumble recovery. Williams also had the special teams play of the game later that night when a TC Stevens kickoff hit off the post to allow Williams to recover the kickoff allow Carolina to get the ball with great field position.

The Cobras entered the fourth quarter in down 34-26 game in a rockin’ freeman coliseum. An impressive 40-yard receiving touchdown by receiver Jalen Rima would not be enough to keep up with the Gunslingers as they slipped away 41-40 in week one. On special teams, the Cobras had highs and lows, as kicker TC Stevens had a great bar ball that was received for a turnover in favor of the Cobras which was followed on the next kickoff by a TC Stevens deuce but the 0/4 point after attempt result was a jekyll & hyde performance for a the 2022 All-NAL kicker, yet with two PATs blocked may not have given him a chance to improve that stat. Either way the Cobras will need to improve on special teams going into week 2.

The Warbirds prior to the NAL, had a 48-0 indoor football record which was instantly snapped last weekend by the Jacksonville Sharks who defeated the birds 54-26 in West Texas. Despite the loss the Warbirds showed a strong secondary snatching two interceptions against the veteran franchise Jacksonville Sharks. They also got to the Sharks quarterback twice with two sacks on the night. On offense, West Texas primarily scored through the air with three passing touchdowns by quarterback Daniel Smith but did have one rushing touchdown by LB/FB Trevante Coleman. Daniel’s primary target was receiver Lagrant Pegram Jr. who finished the night with three receptions, two of them led to touchdowns including a 43-yard receiving touchdown

On defense, the former Columbus Lion Kerry Starks did not disappoint for the Warbirds as he finished the night with four tackles, two pass breakups, and one sack against the Sharks. His ironman teammate Jordan Gandy had an impressive night as he totaled five tackles, two pass breakups on defense and three receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown on offense. Carolina will need to keep both of those players on their radar for week two. The injury report this week for the Cobras will put Carolina without WR/DB Miles Kelly as he is out with an elbow injury. Other than that Carolina looks very healthy going into week two and ready to secure their first win of the season.

Fans let’s pack the Snake Pit this Sunday for the Cobras home opener and the official Superhero / Education Appreciation Night presented by Acme Comics. Tickets are still available for this game just call 336-455-7232. Can’t make the game? Watch all Cobras games online at the National Arena League YouTube Channel.

The Carolina Cobras are members of the National Arena League (NAL). Founded in 2017, the Carolina Cobras are starting their sixth season in 2023 and were the 2018 National Arena League Champions. The Cobras play their home games at the Greensboro Coliseum. Cobra Season Ticket Memberships are on sale now call (336) 445-7232 or visit carolinacobras.com. Follow the Cobras on Facebook at facebook.com/carcobras, twitter.com/carcobras and instagram.com/carcobras.