ATLANTA, GA – The National Arena League enters week 8 with three matchups this weekend. Saturday we will see two matchups with the West Texas Warbirds (1-4) taking on the Orlando Predators (1-3) at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL with kickoff set for Saturday, May 27 at 7pm at the same time the Fayetteville Mustangs (2-3) will battle the Albany Empire (1-4) at the MVP Arena in Albany, NY. This will lead fans into the game of the week on Sunday at the #3 ranked Jacksonville Sharks (3-2) will take on the #1 ranked (5-0) San Antonio Gunslingers at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, TX. Only the Carolina Cobras (4-1) will enjoy a bye week going into Memorial Day Weekend. See full injury report below.
WEST TEXAS WARBIRDS (1-4)
Desperation is kicking in Odessa with less than ten weeks left the Warbirds will need to rack up wins to move up to a top four playoff bid. After a 2-point loss to the #1 team in the league it looks like Coach Smith and the Warbirds are poised to begin a much needed win streak but it will need to start in Orlando, it’s a winnable matchup but in a tough environment as the Predators have been packing the Amway in 2023, expect a close action-packed game this week. Warbirds will hope to fly back home with victory to spark a win streak. See the West Texas injury report.
OL/DL - Accente Hill (Out, Long-Term Injury Reserve, Calf)
OL/DL - Talitige Poloai (Out, Short-Term Injury Reserve, Ankle)
ORLANDO PREDATORS (1-3)
With both opponents starving for a win, expect the Predators to push hardest this weekend as they are playing in the jungle in front of their home crowd. A win will advance the Predators to a 2-3 record climbing up the standings, with a Fayetteville loss and a Orlando win the Predators could move up to 4th place. If that happens the pressure falls on the Preds to stay there as they have ownership and a fan base that have playoff expectations even for a 1st-year head coach. See Coach Walls injury report below.
DL/FB - Freddie Booth (Questionable)
FAYETTEVILLE MUSTANGS (2-3)
After a few tough losses the Mustangs will look to bounce back this week and they have a great shot against the Empire who continue to rebuild now with a new head coach. The Mustangs have high caliber weapons on offense but have struggled defensively losing their last match 72-34 and the game before that they fell 40-27 giving up 112 points in two games Coach Gunnings will expect to see improvement on that side of the ball or fans may witness some changes in Fayetteville in the next few weeks. Have faith in Fayetteville a win this weekend can get the Mustangs to .500 and keep them in the playoff race.
WR - Julius Gregory (Out, Long-Term Injury Reserve, Knee)
DL - Larry Ford (Out, Long-Term Injury Reserve, Wrist)
OL/DL - Jordan Harris (Out, Short-Term Injury Reserve)
ALBANY EMPIRE (1-4)
New Ownership, new head coach the 1-4 Albany Empire will get a fresh start this week as many new players and staff become the new era of the Albany Empire. Most notably the signing of their owner Antonio Brown who is in the lineup this week to play receiver. If he touches the field this weekend it’ll be the first play-owner in team history and league history. The Empire will have advantage playing at home and they face a Mustang team that is on a two-game losing streak see full injury report below.
WR - Farrean Toney (Out, Long-Term Injury Reserve)
JACKSONVILLE SHARKS (3-2)
After a great feeding frenzy at home the Sharks served up their first win in the Shark Tank this season and now have a long swim to San Antonio to face the undefeated Gunslingers (5-0) in Texas. Jacksonville may have the closest opportunity to break the Gunslingers win streak as the last time these two teams played the game came down to only a one-point difference and now with a championship MVP quarterback in Sam Castronova the Sharks will be a fierce opponent even on the road. See Coach Gibson injury report.
QB - Connor Blount (Out, Long-Term Injury Reserve)
WR/DB - Darien Townsend (Out, Long-Term Injury Reserve)
WR/LB - Khalil McClain (Out, Long-Term Injury Reserve)
SAN ANTONIO GUNSLINGERS (5-0)
Coach Shaw and the Gunslingers have held the #1 spot since week one and they don’t plan on losing it, up two-games or more to most teams in the league the Gunslingers have had a great start to their 2023 season. Now San Antonio must maintain this success, keep their foot on the pedal and most of all stay healthy as they have a tough matchup this week against a Sharks team that scored 79 points at home. The Gunslingers will not face the Sharks again in the regular season so this would be the best game to silence any spectators that doubt the Gunslingers dominance in the NAL this season. See Coach Shaw’s injury report below.
DL - Justin Alexandre (Questionable, Ankle)
K - Drew Pearson (Active, Head)
CAROLINA COBRAS (4-1)
Slithering just behind the #1 team the 4-1 Carolina Cobras are having back to back great seasons, this year under head coach James Fuller the Cobras are undefeated at home and have led the league in fewest points allowing holding their last two opponents to less than 35 points. The Cobras have a championship caliber defense if they can stay healthy, they also have great weapons on special teams as kicker TC Stevens and kick returner Adam Smith have both won player of the week honors for Carolina. On offense, the Malik Henry show has paid off as the growing arena star has kept the Cobras on the winning-side of some great games this season. Henry, a versatile quarterback, has shown both his deep ball capabilities to score as well as his ability to score on the run. The Cobras enjoy a bye week this week that will allow them to heal several injuries.
WR/LB - Jalen Rima (Questionable)
WR/DB - Miles Kelly (Questionable)
DL/FB - Kevin Voyles (Active)
All three matchups this weekend can be watched live on the National Arena League YouTube channel; you can also watch the game directly by going to nationalarenaleague.com.
ABOUT NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE
The National Arena League was founded in 2016 and hosted its inaugural season in 2017 as the premier league in arena football. For more information regarding expansion opportunities or partnerships, contact Commissioner Chris Siegfried at firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information about the NAL visit www.nationalarenaleague.com, facebook.com/nationalarenaleauge, twitter.com/NALfootball, Instagram.com/nationalarenaleague