CAPITAL CITY CLASH PREVIEW
The Jersey Flight (0-1) and the Albany Empire (1-0) will meet in the inaugural Capital City Clash matchup at Cure Insurance Arena on Friday, June 4th at 7pm.
The Flight fell on a last second field goal to the Carolina Cobras during week one. The Empire won an offensive shootout against the Columbus Lions in their return to downtown Albany.
The Empire are led by head coach Tom Menas. Menas worked as an assistant coach for the Flight for nearly two years leading up to the 2021 season. Prior to the start of training camp the Albany job unexpectedly came open and Menas was quickly hired.
The Empire won ArenaBowl 32 in 2019 before the AFL folded. Former MVP quarterback Tommy Grady returned to the Empire this season and threw nine touchdowns last week.
Darius Prince made a splash in his Albany debut with six receiving touchdowns. Prince was one of the highest regarded free agents during the NAL offseason and was recruited by multiple teams. The former Philadelphia Soul receiver has quickly become a fan favorite in Albany.
The all time leading rusher and considered by many the greatest fullback in arena football history Derrick Ross returned to the NAL with Albany after last strapping up for the Jacksonville Sharks in 2017. Ross looked good in his return, rushing nine times for 40 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively the Empire are a young group on the field but have AFL veterans Sergio Gilliam (DC) and Joe Sykes (DL) coaching the unit. Kenneth Mcgruder recorded seven tackles and an interception for the Empire last week. LB Patrick Macon recorded five tackles and a sack.
The Flight will need to find a way to bring pressure to Empire QB Tommy Grady. Grady was the least sacked QB in 2019 and Empire HC Tom Menas is an offensive line guru. When Grady has time in the pocket the Empire have one of the best five-step passing games in the sport.
It won’t be easy for the Empire to stop the Flight’s relentless defensive line though. Sean Daniels dominated in week one recording a sack and multiple QB hurries. Nose guard Armonti Carey also recorded a sack and was in the backfield all game. Calvin Fance, Nick Haag, and Zack Mesday are versatile DL/LB’s who are eager to record their first sack of the season.
The Flight secondary will look different in week two following the release of DB Tevin Homer. Homer is expected to land on a new team in the NAL. Former Washington Valor DB Svante Davenport rejoins the Flight after previously signing with the organization in the offseason.
JLB Brian Price was also released and signed with the Orlando Predators. Arena football veteran LaRoche Jackson signed with the Flight this week. Jackson had been signed with the Empire earlier in the offseason. Jackson most recently played for the AC Blackjacks.
The Flight secondary didn’t record any interceptions last week but a turnover against Grady would help the Flight’s cause. Grady threw one interception last week against Columbus.
Offensively, Flight quarterback Warren Smith was extremely efficient in his return to Trenton. Smith completed 23-30 passes and didn’t throw any interceptions. The veteran QB did fumble the exchange on multiple snaps, one of which was recovered by Carolina. Smith began to wear a glove on his non throwing hand midway through the game.
The Flight receiving core had an outstanding first week, with Tyron Laughinghouse and Jared Dangerfield leading the way. Dangerfield recorded three total touchdowns, (two rushing, one receiving,) while Laughinghouse caught two. Veterans Larry Beavers and Emery Sammons will also contribute as pass catchers.
Tickets are still available for the inaugural Capital City Clash matchup at Cure Insurance Arena. Head to Cure’s website to purchase your tickets!
The Jersey Flight are a professional Arena Football team based in Trenton, New Jersey. The Flight are a proud member of the National Arena League (NAL). Home games are played at Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton. The team is owned by New Flight Enterprises, LLC. Follow the team @JerseyFlight on Instagram & Facebook, and @JerseyFlightfFBTwitter.