By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Just four teams are still standing in the Arena Football League playoffs. One of them of course is the Philadelphia Soul. They will face Jacksonville in the American Conference championship game on Saturday. They beat Orlando in the first round this past weekend, getting a big boost from an unlikely source.
Ryan Blaszczyk is a teacher and assistant football coach at Shawnee High School in South Jersey. Oh, and he also stepped in and helped anchored the Soul offensive line against the Predators, playing center in Saturday’s win.
“The head athletic trainer at the Philadelphia Soul, Lemar Mosley,” Blaszczyk tells KYW Newsradio, “he gave me a call last Monday and told me that their starting center, Brennen Carvalho, sprained his knee and that he was unlikely to play, or was still rehabbing his knee and they needed someone to come in and kind of fill that role.”
Now Blaszczyk, who played college football at Rutgers, has a history with the Soul. He tried out for the squad last season and actually played in one game during the season. But he didn’t see this opportunity coming.
“I kind of gave it up after the first couple months of summer,” Blaszczyk says. “Because I knew they were into the playoffs. And I knew that once you get into the playoffs, you don’t really bring a lot of guys in, because you kind of got that core group of players that have been there all season and worked hard and you’re pretty much gearing up for the playoffs. So I had no idea this phone call was coming.”
No word on what role Blaszczyk will play this weekend against Jacksonville, but he will never forget that game with Orlando.
“It was surreal,” Blaszczyk says. “It was absolutely crazy. When I stepped on the field for the first time and the fans started going, and the lights and the horns. It was absolutely wonderful.”
Philadelphia and Jacksonville will kickoff at 7:00pm on Saturday night.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.