Some things happen every year.
Spring training returns to the Valley in March. Tax Day is in April. The Arizona Rattlers play for ArenaBowl championships in August.
OK, so it’s not quite that inevitable, but when the Rattlers host the Philadelphia Soul in ArenaBowl XXIX Friday afternoon at Gila River Arena in Glendale, they’ll be seeking their fourth AFL championship in the last five seasons and sixth overall championship in franchise history.
“I think they’re a class organization,” Rattlers coach Kevin Guy told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday morning when speaking of the Soul. “We split with them in regular season, so this game could go either way tonight.
“We’ve got to make sure we execute and both teams have got great quarterbacks; we’ve got players at every position, so it’s going to be a battle.”
The Rattlers dropped a road game to the Soul on May 14 by a 65-58 margin but knocked off Philadelphia at home on June 17 by a score of 80-63.
Based on that, along with the fact that the Rattlers are perfect in games played in Arizona and are generally considered to be the best team in the AFL, the host team is seen as a favorite going into Friday evening.
Should the Rattlers come out on top, it will only further the belief that they are the league’s dynasty.
Many around the organization believe that the Rattlers (15-3) should be 60 minutes away from their fifth straight title — a streak that was stopped last summer when a curious call at the end of the National Conference Championship Game paved the way for a loss to the eventual-champion San Jose SaberCats.
The Rattlers come into Friday’s game riding a nine-game winning streak. The average margin of victory in those games is a whopping 25.1 points and Arizona has won three straight games — including playoff wins over Portland and Cleveland — by 40 or more points.
If the Rattlers earn the biggest victory of their season, Guy thinks he knows how it will happen.
“The three things that have got to happen, turnovers, obviously, you can’t turn the ball over,” he said. “We’ve got to win in the red zone — I think both teams are built to be dominant down in the red zone area and so we’ve got to win in the red zone, and third, to me, is special teams. We have to win the special teams battle tonight and make a difference there.
“So if we do that, those three things there, then I like our chances.”
This will be the third ArenaBowl meeting between the Rattlers and Soul (15-3). Arizona beat Philadelphia 72-54 in ArenaBowl XXV in New Orleans and again in ArenaBowl XXVI in Orlando by a 48-39 margin. In fact, Philadelphia has beaten the Rattlers only once in their history — a 65-58 win on May 14.
- Arizona Rattlers will look a lot different in their 25th anniversary season
- One man’s look back at the ups and downs in Arizona sports in 2016
- Arizona Rattlers to move to Indoor Football League
- Sloppy first quarter dooms Rattlers in ArenaBowl loss to Philadelphia
- Rattlers rout Gladiators; punch ticket to ArenaBowl