The Predators beat the Storm by 51 points on Friday, the worst loss in Tampa Bay’s history. In case you missed the game, these three .gifs summarize it pretty well.
All in all, the list had a definite winners’ bias – with 11 defensive backs selected, three top-ten interception guys somehow didn’t make the list – Cameron McGlenn of the New Orleans Voodoo, who was fifth in the league with 11 interceptions, and Eric Crocker and Varmah Sonie of the Portland Thunder with 10 and 9, respectively. Sonie also forced three fumbles, but it wasn’t enough to get him on the list
They also didn’t care much about offensive linemen, as only two, Richard Ranglin and Michael Huey, managed to crack the top 50, the only position for which I couldn’t make a full first-team squad out of the votes.
The below graph shows that San Jose has amassed more Top 25 players than any other division has for 2015. If any team seems to have the talent edge coming into the season, it’s them. Position breakdowns, the color key, and more data are found on the graphic over at ArenaFan. Check back later this week for a Thunder breakdown!
(Data accurate as of 3/21/15)
Heading into 2015, the Portland Thunder secondary will be depending on new faces, as two defensive backs, Eric Crocker and Dwight McLean signed to teams closer to their homes, and a third, Varmah Sonie, signed with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.
Andre Martin, an Arena Football League rookie with some NFL experience and a FCS National Championship under his belt, hopes to help build a bridge from last year’s successful secondary to this season’s squad – after all, he and Sonie played together at the University of Northern Iowa as defensive backs.
“He was telling me even before he got with some of these NFL teams how much fun he was having up here, how glad he was to keep playing the game, how it was a nice city with great fans,” Martin said. It was Sonie’s endorsement of the Rose City that helped guide Martin here.
Then again, Martin has always been interested in connections with the past. Continue reading Andre Martin Is Used to Changing Directions
It took a couple of months, but we did it! We determined the single top play of the 2014 season for the Portland Thunder.
Fitting for a defensive backfield that had three players in the league’s top 10 turnover forcers, the top play of the Thunder season was Eric Crocker’s interception of the Tampa Bay Storm’s B.J. Hall, which turned into a 23-yard touchdown run by Varmah Sonie.
The play involved one of the EIGHT fumbles between both teams in the game, six of which were picked up by the opposing team. Tampa Bay’s Michael Lindsey forced three of them, the top mark for the AFL in 2014, including the one that sent Sonie into the end zone.
“Not again!” said Crocker, when asked about what he was thinking as the ball was poked out by Lindsey. “But Varmah was Johnny-on-the-spot, and he has great return skills, so once the ball hit his hands, I was like ‘He’s going to score anyway.'”
The cap to the play was Sonie’s roll across the end zone from the T of Tampa to the Y of Bay before Coach William Mulder stopped him and pulled him up to celebrate.
“I was just happy I got in the end zone,” said Sonie. “I think that was my first touchdown of the season on defense, so I was just excited.”
Check out the full interviews with Crocker and Sonie below.
It’s all about the chalk in Florida. 1 vs. 2 in the Florida final. Just purely incredible plays, both of which left announcers in disbelief.
The top overall seed, Douglas McNeil provided some Odell Beckham, Jr.-caliber hands when snagging this pass with one hand.
But oh, the wacky greatness of this two seed. Teamwork on incredible defensive plays…it just warms the heart.
To vote in today’s other contest, the New Orleans Final, click here.
You could make the Thunder’s top play in 2015! To sign up for our open tryout on Dec. 1-2, click here.
San Antonio stayed true to form, continuing to be the upset bracket. We’re left with the 4 seed and 7 seed battling each other to face our Los Angeles finalist on Friday.
Here are your San Antonio finalists:
In this corner, here’s the 4 seed, the infamous Sonie/Peila tag team striking the Talons. Big reception? How about no, says Sonie, and Peila returns it into the red zone.
In the other corner, we have the longest touchdown run in Thunder history. We suspect QB Danny “Lightning” Southwick is rigging the vote somehow, but he just keeps getting through…kind of like he got through the Talons’ defense.
To vote in the Los Angeles final, click here.
No upsets in the Florida bracket, which is probably the strongest bracket of the four, since we were able to use highlights from two games and battle them against each other.
Both of these are fantastic catches; we can probably assume that McNeil’s catch is going to continue a run to the regional finals, but let’s not underestimate the difficulty level in managing to stay under the bars on the jump, then getting down in time to tap the toes before hauling in the INT.
To vote in today’s other matchup, click here.
Two great plays, both end up with Thunder players on the ground. Eric Rogers got there organically, flying over the wall to make a touchdown catch and landing in the VIP section. Great catch, great touchdown, everyone’s happy.
But there’s just so much more going on with this Crocker/Sonie play. First Crocker gets the INT and a big return. Then Michael Lindsay, as part of his THREE forced fumbles in the game, pops the ball out. Sonie chases it down and eventually corrals it, then turns around and finishes the return and ends it with a consummate Thunder Roll.
Which moves on – the classic AFL touchdown or the crazy one? You get to decide!
To vote in today’s other #ThunderTopPlay matchup, click here.
It’s clear: Thunder fans like bang for their buck. Varmah Sonie’s two-pick highlight gave you two huge interceptions for the price of one top seed. Douglas McNeil III’s three touchdowns against the KISS (and the ensuing dances) were too much for his one incredible catch to overcome.
Now, both value picks battle each other in the second round of great plays made during the #RedOut. Who ya got, Portland?
To vote in today’s other contest, click here.
Say it with me: Stan Dan’s Big Man TD. You can’t go wrong with voting for something with a fantastic name like that. You can’t go wrong with loving when an offensive lineman scores and gets to dance – it’s one of the sights that makes Arena Football so great.
The Thunder’ All-Arena representatives, Varmah Sonie and Bryce Peila? They came into the league and made it their own. It’s no surprise that they comprised so much of the #ThunderTopPlay bracket when you consider that both were in the league’s Top 10 in interceptions, Sonie was in the league’s Top 5 for forced fumbles, and Peila was in the Top 5 for picking ’em up. This is just another example of their ball-hawking.
To view today’s other matchup, click here.
What are we doing? We wrote about this earlier in the month.
Why are we doing it? To remind you of some great moments in 2014 as we lead up to our 2014/15 Open Tryout!