Dan Raudabaugh

Soul take home awards, hope to cap dominant season with ArenaBowl XXX title

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CSN

Soul take home awards, hope to cap dominant season with ArenaBowl XXX title

Based on every metric imaginable, the Soul have been the best team in the Arena Football League this season. They lead the league in scoring, have allowed the fewest points and are undefeated at home. They’ll try to put the finishing touches on a nearly-perfect season Saturday night (7 p.m./6ABC) at the Wells Fargo Center, where they’ll host the Tampa Bay Storm in the ArenaBowl XXX.

Before the showdown, the AFL held its annual awards ceremony Friday afternoon to recognize the best players and coaches in the league. Unsurprisingly, nine of the 18 selections to the 2017 All-Arena First Team were members of the Soul.

One of those players, linebacker Beau Bell, also won the Commissioner’s Award and the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Bell led the league with 13 sacks, despite missing two games.

AFL commissioner Scott Butera presented Bell with the Commissioner’s Award, which honors the player deemed the best representative of the league, both on and off the field.

“I didn’t expect to win this award so I don’t have a second speech planned, but this is a big honor,” Bell said. “It takes a lot of sacrifices to be an arena football player, but I hope I can show people it’s possible to do what you love.”

Bell thanked the commissioner, his teammates, head coach Clint Dolezel, and the front office, including majority owner and Eagles legend Ron Jaworski. Tampa Bay president Derrick Brooks, the former Buccaneers linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Famer, was in attendance as well.

Tampa Bay also won its fair share of awards. Storm coach Ron James was named Coach of the Year, while Tampa Bay quarterback Randy Hippeard won Offensive Player of the Year and MVP honors, edging out Dan Raudabaugh, the Soul QB. Though Raudabaugh’s 82 touchdown passes led the league, Hippeard posted impressive regular-season numbers, with 3,506 yards passing, 80 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions.

James, who guided the Storm to a 10-4 regular season after the franchise went 2-14 last year, had ample praise for Soul coach and AFL Hall of Famer Dolezel, who he coached on the Las Vegas Gladiators in 2005.

“You know on tape when you’re watching a Clint Dolezel team,” James said, “because they always play hard, and they play the right way.”

While Dolezel missed out on his third consecutive Coach of the Year honor, his assistant head coach, Phil Bogle, won Assistant Coach of the Year.

Bogle, Dolezel and the Soul will hope to beat Tampa Bay on Saturday for the fourth time this season. Raudabaugh doesn’t expect it to be easy.

“We know Tampa is going to bring their A-game,” he said. “I’m very excited to play in front of the home crowd; we know it will be really loud in here. Still, we know Tampa is a good team and is going to play their best.”

Raudabaugh, in his sixth season with the Soul, will be making his fourth ArenaBowl appearance, and looking to win back-to-back titles after last year’s 56-42 triumph over the Arizona Rattlers.

“After losing a couple ArenaBowls early in my career (to Arizona in 2012 and 2013), I feel a lot more confident now in crunch moments and big games,” Raudabaugh said. “I’m thankful the organization has continued to have faith in me.”

However, the Soul quarterback said he doesn’t derive much extra confidence from the team’s 3-0 record thus far against Tampa Bay, or from the Soul's 13-1 regular season.

“I’m sure both teams will make some adjustments, but really arena football is a pretty simple game,” Raudabaugh said. “It’s all about who executes best that night.”

Soul lose first game of the season, 49-42 to Baltimore Brigade

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USA Today Images

Soul lose first game of the season, 49-42 to Baltimore Brigade

All good things must come to an end.

And the Soul's perfect season came to a halt Saturday night with a 49-42 loss to the Brigade in Baltimore.

“Tonight was not one of our best performances,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said.  “We will need to shake off this loss, correct our mistakes and prepare for next week.”

Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh completed 18 of 28 passes for 247 yards and five touchdowns, but was outdueled by Brigade QB Shane Carden, who completed 20 of 32 passes for 271 yards and five touchdowns, including this gem as time expired in the first half.

After leading by two touchdowns early, the Brigade battled back to tie the game at 35 late in the third quarter. But a Raudabaugh interception allowed the Brigade to take the lead as the fourth quarter began. The Soul would tie it, but quickly saw their lead disappear again as the Soul failed to tie the game with under a minute to go.

The Soul (10-1) return home on Saturday, July 15 to face the Washington Valor (1-9).

Soul use strong defensive effort to beat Gladiators, improve to 8-0

Soul use strong defensive effort to beat Gladiators, improve to 8-0

The Soul on Saturday night used a strong defensive effort to beat the Cleveland Gladiators, 59-49, at the Wells Fargo Center to improve to 8-0.

Clinging to a 37-35 lead in the third quarter, the Soul forced a turnover on downs by the Gladiators and then added a touchdown on the ensuing possession to go up, 44-35.

From that point forward, it was all Soul.

“This was a little slower start off a bye week than I had expected, but I’ll take the win,” head coach Clint Dolezel told PhiladelphiaSoul.com. “I am impressed with how we stepped up in the second half and we are ready to take on the second half of the season.”

Raudabaugh became the 10th player in Arena Football history to throw for more than 30,000 career yards Saturday. The QB finished with 303 yards and seven touchdowns against Cleveland.

His main hookup on Saturday was with wide receiver Darius Reynolds, who reeled in nine catches for 144 yards and four touchdowns.

The Soul welcome the Tampa Bay Storm to South Philly next Saturday at 7 p.m.