Two Texas Teams Head North East this Weekend for NAL Matchups
ATLANTA, GA – The National Arena League enters week 5 after four action-packed weeks of arena football. In perhaps one of the most interesting transaction weeks, fans witnessed the departure of Empire Head Coach Ware and the return of Empire Two-Time Champion Head Coach Tom Menas. The week paved the way for a large amount of talent injecting into several teams throughout the league while several Empire stars remain with the team in Albany while a new wave of talent join the Empire roster days & hours before kickoff. West Texas (0-3) flies to the capitol region to take on the Albany Empire (1-2) Saturday, May 6 with kickoff set for 7pm. Meanwhile fellow Texas NAL franchise the (3-0) San Antonio Gunslingers hit the road for Carolina to take on the Fayetteville Mustangs (2-1) for the game of the week Sunday, May 7 with kickoff set for 3pm. See full team injury reports below.
Albany Empire (1-2)
Coach Menas walks to his Empire desk after months away from it. The weight of a 1-2 team, wave of new players all rest on his shoulders. Entering this week coach has just met many of his new athletes as he continues the goal of turning this ship around as Albany is the defending champion with a title to defend more than half of the season still ahead. Developing talent is not new to Menas as his history has showcased his ability to take small school talent and turn them into NAL MVPs, Championship MVPs, and All-NAL Players now under new ownership the Empire have new players coming in from Division I powerhouses such as Michigan, USC, and Arkansas. Coach even has filled in key pieces on his coaching staff bringing in former Orlando Predators head coach Ben Bennett who was the last coach to bring Orlando to the NAL playoffs. There may be fan doubt this week but looking past week 5 with 12 more weeks left in the NAL regular season the year is long and far from over for this Empire team. A fresh start may be just the Empire need and luckily it will come against a 0-3 West Texas Warbirds team and not an undefeated rival.
DB - Maurice Leggett (Out, Short-Term Injury Reserve)
West Texas (0-3)
A team that is getting better week by week suffered quite a setback last week with their worst performance last week 50-18 against the Fayetteville Mustangs. The Warbirds are cued up for a bounce back week against a 1-2 Empire team facing much adversity during their team transition on and off the field. For the Warbirds to gain their first win this week they will need to be the tough, no-quit team we saw almost take down the Carolina Cobras (2-1) in a 64-62 dogfight. West Texas will land in Albany with a pretty healthy roster against an Empire team picking up the pieces of their 2023 potential puzzle. See Coach Tate Smith’s single injury to report.
DL - Accente Hill Jr. (Out, Short-Term Injury Reserve, Calf)
Fayetteville Mustangs (2-1)
The Mustangs had a massive victory last week against the Warbirds. After a loss to the Sharks it seems the Fayetteville is back to full speed and look to redeem themselves in front of their home crowd but will take on a tough 3-0 San Antonio Gunslingers. Let’s see if the NAL Expansion team can be the first to hand San Antonio their first loss of the season. This is the first time these two teams faced each other and would be a great proving ground for Mustangs coaching staff that they can compete with playoff level teams as the Gunslingers seem bound for the postseason.
WR/DB - Julius Gregory (Out, Short-Term Injury Reserve)
San Antonio Gunslinger (3-0)
After a bye week to rest & recover the Gunslingers look to continue their perfect season but will have to do so against one of the NAL rising new teams the Fayetteville Mustangs who rank as one of the highest scoring teams in the NAL and match the fast-paced offense that Gunslingers are also known for. San Antonio has several injuries to report and will hope for some of their stars that are listed as questionable to be active by kickoff to improve their chances of taking down the Mustangs in Fayetteville. See injury report below.
OL/DL - Dante Angus (Out, Ankle)
WR/DB/KR - Kali Rashaad (Questionable, Hand)
WR/DB - Arthur Hobbs (Questionable, Foot)
Orlando Predators (1-2)
After taking down their biggest rival in the Shark Tank the Orlando Predators look like they are turning their season around and will enjoy a bye week to prepare for their next game against the (3-1) Carolina Cobras in Greensboro. In order to spark a win streak Orlando will need to rely on their busy medical staff to get these players back to full strength. See Coach Walls full injury report.
WR - Lonnie Outlaw (Out, Short-Term Injury Reserve, Knee)
WR - Richie Anderson (Out, Short-Term Injury Reserve, Rib)
DL - Youssef Bakarat (Probable, Shoulder)
DL - Freddie Booth (Probable, Back)
OL/DL - Malik Jones (Probable, Thumb)
DB - Delvon Randall (Probable, Calf)
DB - Jacques Sessions (Probable, Hamstring)
WR/LB - Alex Wheat (Active, Chest)
Jacksonville Sharks (2-2)
After four straight weeks of play the Shark are battle torn and ready for back to back bye weeks. As the players recover Coach Gibson keeps his foot on the pedal after losing to the Sharks rival Orlando, Gibson picked up NAL Championship MVP Quarterback Sam Castronova. Albany’s release of Castronova may prove costly and score big for a team like Jacksonville that is looking for that exact position as their starting quarterback went down last week to long-term injury. The Sharks slipped up against the Predators as Orlando got their first win this season. Somehow the Sharks have yet to win a home game this year despite their massive crowd support all wins have come from the road for Gibson and the Sharks. They will need Sam and a healthy roster coming out of their bye as they face a tough Empire team followed by a match against the #1 San Antonio Gunslingers.
QB - Connor Blount (Out, Long-Term Injury Reserve, Hand)
Carolina Cobras (2-1)
Unlike the Sharks a team that is winning at home is the Carolina Cobras in the Snake Pit. With back to back wins at home the Cobras look forward to returning to the Pit next week to face the Orlando Predators (1-2). A big crowd last week helped Carolina take down Albany in a close battle 56-49. The team also had an edge of your seat victory in their home opener. The fiesta continues in Carolina but for now they enjoy a bye week to rest and prepare for an Orlando team that is getting better and better each week. See Coach Fullers report.
WR/DB - Jalen Rima (Out)
WR/DB - Miles Kelly (Out)
Both matchups this week can be watched online at nationalarenaleague.com or by visiting the National Arena League YouTube Channel as both games will be streamed for fans to enjoy.
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