Kevin Guy’s Arizona Rattlers have won the last two Arena Bowl championships and appear poised to win a third this season.
But first, they wouldn’t mind making some history along the way.
The Rattlers have won their first 14 games, and with four more victories would become the first team in Arena Football League history to make it through a regular season unscathed.
A guest of Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday, the head coach said he’s not likely to rest players at the end of the season to save them for the playoffs.
“We’re a little different mindset here (than the NFL); we have a smaller roster,” Guy said. “In the NFL you have a 53-man roster, here we’re managing about a 24 to 30-man roster, and we only have a 21-man on game night. So there’s not a lot of room to rest guys.”
Even if there was, Guy said his belief is to have as much momentum as possible heading into the postseason, and it’s hard to see how losing to any of the San Jose SaberCats, Spokane Shock, Portland Thunder or Orlando Predators would go toward that plan.
“There’s been coaches in this league that have rested some players, but I feel like it’s only three rounds of playoffs and you need to be playing your best football when you go into the playoffs,” he said. “In the past it’s worked for us, and it’s like any other decision — it’s all about the results.
“Right now with the undefeated season if it happens it happens, but we’re going to make the best decisions possible to put ourselves in a position to win a championship. If we’re healthy between now and the ArenaBowl we’ll continue to play our starters. If we’re not, then we’ll let guys get healed up and do what we need to do to put ourselves in position to win in the playoffs.”
It’s tough to argue with Guy’s strategy. Since 2008, his first season with the team, the coach has led Arizona to a 66-24 record that includes three trips to the ArenaBowl (with the two wins).
Amazingly, this may be his best team yet. The Rattlers are scoring a league-best 66.9 points per game and have intercepted 26 passes, which is the second-best total in the AFL.
Its all led to the team’s great start, and finishing the season with the league’s best record would give Arizona home field advantage throughout the playoffs, including in the ArenaBowl. While the Rattlers are 14-0, the Cleveland Gladiators are right behind at 12-1. Though the Rattlers have the tiebreaker if the teams should finish with the same record, the chance to host the title game does give a little extra motivation to keep winning games.
“We want to lock that down, we would love to have all three rounds to be able to have a chance to come through Arizona,” he said.
But, Guy admitted, the chance to make history and run the table is one that excites both he and the team.
“It hasn’t been done before, and I told the players, ‘Hey, if we’ve got a chance to do it we might as well knock it out while we’ve got the opportunity,'” he said. “They only come around so often.”