Week 9 Preview: Cobras vs. Empire

by Steven Shotola

06/17/2022 10:04 AM -

Rainy Night in Georgia:  The Cobras arrived in Columbus last Friday hoping to stretch their hold on first place, against a struggling Lions team that also boasted the NAL’s best defense.  What Carolina didn’t count on was a bug making its way through the locker room, leaving the Cobras short-handed against the Lions. Columbus made the most of the opportunity, with a 55-28 upset victory. That meant Albany could end up just a half-game behind Carolina coming into this Saturday’s huge game. Instead, the Empire visited San Antonio and got pushed into the Riverwalk by the winless Gunslingers 59-56.

Time is on Our Side:  Week 9 of 14 brings second-place Albany to Greensboro, and a closer look at the schedule shows that 3 of the last 5 games are against Columbus (2) and San Antonio. A Carolina win drops Albany to 4-4 and severely muddies the water from second to fifth place in the NAL. It would be nice if the Cobras had a 7-2 league record and could watch the rest of the league jockey for playoff seeding.

Leading Men:  Jonathan Bane continues to make his case for league MVP, topping the NAL list for total passing yards (1,802) and passing touchdowns (37). Perhaps most impressive is the fact that Bane’s lead in the former category is almost 500 yards. The icing on the cake is Bane’s league-leading 6 rushing touchdowns. Speaking of rushing touchdowns, Zack Brown is second on that list with 5 touchdowns of his own but is the league’s leading rusher with 102 yards. His closest competition is Empire quarterback Sam Castronova’s 75 rushing yards. Speaking of league leaders, Empire receiver Darius Prince leads the NAL with 97.5 receiving yards/game and 19 touchdowns. Prince has had a lot of success this season against the Cobras, and you can bet the Cobras’ defense will key on number 6 on Saturday.

Another New Quarterback?  One unique facet of the Cobras’ season has been the number of games facing new quarterbacks. Week one at Albany saw the Cobras face Mike Fafaul. Two weeks ago the Empire started former Cobra Sam Castronova. Last week, Castronova was replaced by Warren Smith, Jr. to give the Empire a spark on offense. Will Castronova start on Saturday or will the Cobras have to deal with yet another new face? The Cobras also faced new quarterbacks at home versus Jacksonville and last Friday at Columbus.

Coach Says:  “Tough game last week. A lot of questions of where guys were. A couple of guys were sick and couldn’t make the trip, so those who went were the ones who were able to go. We never go into a game saying, ‘Hey let’s not dress people to mess around and lose the game.’ This is a big game Saturday. If we take care of business, it’s going to separate us from the pack while everyone else beats up on each other. There are six more weeks until post season. We have to finish out one week at time and we’ll be in great shape at the end.” – Carolina Head Coach Josh Resignalo

Last Meeting:  This is the third meeting between the Cobras and Empire. Both prior matchups saw the Cobras come out with 8-point victories (59-51 and 58-50). Each has been a nail-biter and we should expect no different on Saturday.

Raise Up:  Petey Pablo will once again be part of the halftime entertainment this Saturday, so make sure to grab your tickets and join us at the Coliseum Saturday!