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2019-2020 High School Bounce

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February 2020
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Destroyers are back and ready to roll at Albany Empire tonight





The Arena Football League has been around for 32 long years with various degrees of success and much excitement, confused and disorderly action. But one thing is a constant, the league treats the fans to pass-happy teams, high-scoring shootouts, free footballs kicked or thrown into the stands and inaction with the players.

Tonight, the new Columbus Destroyers go to upstate New York to begin the 2019 season.

Columbus had a very successful run in the AFL from 2004 to 2008. That is why the league brought them back into the fold. The Destroyers will play home games at Nationwide Arena.

The AFL, now with more local ownership and run by more successful businessmen instead of people who just want to run a team, will add four more franchises in 2020. The league has six teams and runs from April through late July with the top four teams making the playoffs.

Columbus has a young offensive unit which is still a work in progress. So the coaching staff, led by head coach Matthew Sauk, expects the defense to lead the way in the early games.

The defensive unit is the strength of the team. They have four players who have been All-Arena Football League in the past.

After a long offseason, the Empire are ready to get back on the field and settle unfinished business in the team’s sophomore season.  The road to ArenaBowl XXXII begins against the League’s newest franchise, the Columbus Destroyers, who return to the AFL after an 11-year hiatus. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. in the Times Union Center.

The first matchup to come into play is the Empire’s loud and pumped up crowd versus the Destroyers.  Last season, Albany averaged nearly 10,000 fans per game – more than any other team in the League.  The Times Union Center would be deafening at times during Empire home games last year, making it a tall task for opponents to come out of the Capital Region with a win.  Columbus’ trip to Albany will be their first game for the franchise in over a decade.

The next matchup to lookout for is between the Empire offensive line against the Destroyers’ defensive line.  Albany returns the entire offensive line from the end of the 2018 regular season.  Last year, the Empire surrendered a mere four sacks all season – a League low.  Hayworth Hicks secured Offensive Lineman of the Year and was joined by Ryan Cave on the First Team All-Arena list.  Mo Ruffins joined the unit late last season, but made his presence known as the Empire did not allow a single sack since Ruffins was inserted into the lineup.  In the backfield stands fullback Mykel Benson who provides quarterback, Tommy Grady, protection from the opposing mac linebackers.  Benson also gives the Empire a running game making the Albany offense a dual threat.  The Empire also acquired offensive lineman, Jordan Mudge, the League’s 2016 Offensive Lineman of the Year to help out in the trenches.

The key to victory in this matchup is to keep a clean pocket for Grady.  The offensive line was a wall for Grady last year which was a key reason to the Empire’s success, boasting the most potent offense in the League.  Grady’s MVP campaign is in large part to hardly getting touched as the offensive line stood tall while Grady hurled 81 touchdowns on the season.  It won’t be an easy task however, as Columbus has stacked up on the defensive line position, adding a good mix of League veterans and rookies.  Starting at the mac linebacker position, the Destroyers picked up Derrick Summers, who spent 2018 with the Empire and earned Second Team All-Arena honors.  Summers has a knack for getting to the quarterback as the eight-year veteran finds himself inside of the top ten on the all-time sack list. More veterans such as Khreem Smith, KC Obi, and Terrance Taylor will be part of the defensive unit lined up in the trenches, all of which have made careers out of making opposing quarterback’s lives difficult.  If the Empire offensive line can keep a clean pocket for Grady, he will have time to find and utilize all of his weapons, picking up right where he left off a season ago.

The Columbus Destroyers’ 24-man roster is set for the 2019 season. Check out the roster below to see who will be taking the field Saturday against the Albany Empire!

DB 1 Brandon Stephens 5’11 200 12/4/1987 Miami, OH Strongsville, OH
WR 2 Donovan Morgan 6’2 210 7/29/1982 Pearl River CC New Orleans, LA
WR 5 Anthony Amos 5’11 185 8/2/1990 Middle Tennessee Fayetteville, NC
DL 6 Sydney Omameh 6’3 250 2/21/1993 Grand Valley State Columbus, OH
QB 7 Danny Southwick 6’1 200 9/28/1981 Occidental Provo, UT
MAC 8 K.C. Obi 6’2 250 9/14/1990 North Texas Mission Hills, CA
WR 9 Jenson Stoshak 6’1 195 4/1/1994 Florida Atlantic Jacksonville, FL
DB 10 Varmah Sonie 5’8 180 7/8/1990 Northern Iowa Burnsville, MN
DB 11 Jordan Thomas 6’0 185 1/12/1996 Oklahoma Klein, TX
QB 12 Grant Russell 6’3 200 9/26/1995 Ohio Dominican Newark, OH
WR 13 Paul Revis 5’7 170 8/20/1994 Western Oregon Scappoose, OR
WR 15 Kenny Cook 6’4 209 5/20/1992 Gardner Webb Cross Hill, SC
K 19 Craig Peterson 6’3 220 7/18/1985 Cortland Burnt Hills, NY
DB 21 Aaron Ivory 6’1 202 4/21/1996 Findlay Cleveland, OH
DB 23 LaRico Stevenson 5’11 205 8/22/1984 West Georgia Olive Branch, MS
OL 25 Miles Mason 6’4 305 8/25/1989 Utah Los Angeles, CA
OL 43 Jovann Letuli 6’3 340 8/18/1996 Akron San Diego, CA
OL 44 Faleaoga Russell 6’5 345 9/14/1992 Lincoln University Compton, CA
MAC 50 Derrick Summers 6’1 260 6/19/1988 Toledo Southfield, MI
DL 58 Khreem Smith 6’3 270 7/7/1979 Oklahoma State St. James Parish, Jamaica
OL 65 Daronte Bouldin 6’6 341 12/14/1994 Mississippi Canton, MS
DL 67 Terrance Taylor 6’0 320 5/14/1986 Michigan Muskegon, MI
OL 75 Nathan Isles 6’6 350 1/4/1992 North Carolina A&T Atlanta, GA
DL 99 Nick Seither 6’3 290 3/2/1993 Georgetown College Hamilton, OH


Additional players include WR Julian Lowe from Gahanna/Otterbein and Trevon Saunders from Africentric/Urbana will start the season on injured reserve. Another WR, Garry Brown from Westerville South/California, Pa. is suspended.