By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After holding off Orlando last week in the first round of the playoffs, the Philadelphia Soul find themselves just one win away from a second-straight berth in the Arena Bowl. The only thing standing in their way? The Jacksonville Sharks, who will host the Soul in the American Conference Championship Game on Saturday night.
“Tough match-up,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel tells KYW Newsradio. They’ve got a great defense like we have a great defense. Their offense is a little different than ours, because they have a rushing quarterback that we have to worry about. That always creates problems for us as far as what we want to to with our ‘Jack’ linebacker. We have to be real cautious not letting him get around and run, and beat us that way.”
That quarterback for Jacksonville is Bernard Morris who threw 55 touchdowns during the regular season while rushing for a team-high 306 yards and 11 scores. He also led the Sharks to a dramatic comeback win in their first-round match-up with Tampa Bay.
Philadelphia got a big lift in their first-round win over Orlando from Ryan Blaszczyk. He signed with the team early in the week and then anchored the offensive line on Saturday, stepping in for center Brennen Carvalho who is dealing with an injured knee. How is that knee now?
“It’s better,” Dolezel says. “We don’t know for sure. He’s getting better every day and we think he’s going to play, but we’re not worried one way or another, because we know Ryan can step in and do well for us if he has to.”
The Soul played Jacksonville once during the regular season, losing at home, 55-53, back on April 27th. This match-up will be in Florida, but Dolezel says they are ready to travel.
“We don’t mind playing on the road,” Dolezel says. “It’s kind of ‘us against the world’ when we go there. A lot of distractions are put to the side as far as tickets, family, things like that. So we just go and play football. They do have a great, rowdy crowd. That is an element, that is one of the reasons why you want to play at home. So we have to fight through that, make sure we’re concentrating, keeping focused on the game.”
The winner of Philadelphia and Jacksonville will play the winner of Spokane and Arizona in the Arena Bowl.
Kick-off Saturday night in Jacksonville is set for 7:00pm.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.