Philadelphia versus Lehigh Valley. It doesn’t happen that way very often. But today, that matchup shall determine the pecking order for the remainder of the SteelHawks’ season. It’s the battle of the unbeatens tonight at the PPL Center. Here’s what you need to know to get ready for the game:
The Philadelphia Yellowjackets–risen from the ashes of the Trenton Freedom–return to downtown Allentown today for a rematch with the Lehigh Valley SteelHawks. Both teams are unbeaten, although the SteelHawks prevailed in a preseason “kickoff classic” contest back in early March. However, that game was treated as an exhibition a bit by both squads; I don’t recall the Yellowjackets ever using their #1 QB Warren Smith in the game.
Tickets and Parking: Good seats still remain for this game–purchase at the door to save on some of the fees. Parking in nearby Allentown Authority lots; arena deck may be pre-purchase only. Parking is $6.
Promotion: First 1,000 fans receive thunder sticks! Gonna bring the noise for the team, today!
Media Coverage: TV2 will have live coverage of this game. In addition, Phantoms radio voice Bob Rotruck will be doing a call online on his “Tune In” page HERE. Inside the arena listen live on FM 89.9–if you can hear over the thundersticks!
Keith Groller from The Morning Call had a preview column this morning.
Power Rankings: HERE (hasn’t been updated)
Pregame: Stop by the merchandise table to see if they’ve replenished–I’ve seen them selling out of most items as SteelHawks gear seems to be in high demand. While you’re in that area, stop by the booster table and say ‘hi’ to Dan and enter the raffle. Hopefully they have something cool for us to try to win this week!
What To Watch–Storylines Heading into the game:
- Yellowjackets QB Warren Smith: He’s a veteran of the indoor game, and a force to be reckoned with. He knows he’s gotta get rid of the ball or have Larry Ford eating his lunch. How effective will he be? Will he make the big mistakes that the SteelHawks are used to forcing, like INTs and fumbles?
- SteelHawks QBs: Jake Jablonski now has a stranglehold on the position, but backup lefty CB3 is capable as well. If Jablonski is ineffective early, might we see big Clay Belton III under center? Or in shotgun?
- SteelHawks Playcalling: This might be Coach Thompson’s biggest game of the season. Will he play it conservative, with short passes and runs? Will he try to air it out to Renford and his gang?
- SteelHawks Defense: The defense has been just amazing so far this season. The thought of a shutout last week–well, that’s just something that doesn’t happen. DL Tahir Basil is on the shelf with an injury. LB Chris Alvarez is in the AFL. Will the rest of the upfront gang step up and apply pressure, or will they allow Smith to run away from Larry Ford all game? Will they move big Larry around, to try to get him in the face of Smith?
- Kicking Game: It hasn’t been that important so far, but if this game is close it could come into play. Kicker Ken Parrish has been called up to the AFL, so Spencer Hotaling out of Susquehanna will be handling the kicking duties. A point here and a point there might make the difference in this game–and not giving up prime field position on kickoffs is important as well.
- Playoff position: Both teams are undefeated heading into today’s game. Playoff structure hasn’t been announced yet, but if two teams make it from the east, and two from the South/West, then the winner of this game likely gets to host a first-round playoff game.
- This Happens Every Year: Strong starts are nothing unusual for the SteelHawks franchise. In the past, there have been instances where they’ve faltered down the stretch. Upcoming schedule does not appear difficult, with the Penn Capitals twice, and the Triangle Torch again. The importance of this game CANNOT be understated. The season turns this week.
Bring the thunder, bring the noise–tonight’s the night we grab the inside track towards bringing a championship to Allentown!
See you at the arena,