Soul ready for the Sharks

PHILADELPHIA SOUL Soul fullback Derrick Ross led the AFL with 35 rushing TDs.
PHILADELPHIA SOUL Soul fullback Derrick Ross led the AFL with 35 rushing TDs.
Posted: August 11, 2013

FOR THE SECOND consecutive year, the Soul will play the Sharks in a game to decide who will represent the American Conference in the ArenaBowl. They meet today at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville.

The Soul played the Sharks this season at home on April 27, but lost to then-undefeated Jacksonville, 55-53. The two teams have met five times since the start of the 2012 season, but Soul head coach Clint Dolezel thinks that this time will be different.

"We watched the film," Dolezel said. "We made a lot of mistakes in that game, which we did a lot in several games early in the season. I think we're playing a lot better football right now. It's just about confidence and each individual doing their own job. When you do your job individually, it turns into a great team effort and that's what we have been doing, and why we have been playing so well lately."

The April loss dropped the Soul to 2-3. Since that game, they have gone 11-3 and reached another conference final. They are coming off a thrilling, 59-55 first-round win over Orlando.

"We are a different team now," Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh said. "We might have the same guys now, but we were not playing the same football. We were not playing as well earlier in the season as we are now. They were on fire to start the season. We are protecting the football a lot better now."

"We need to come out and play a little smarter than we did this past game," Dolezel said. "We were a little too amped up during the game, the adrenaline got the best of us. We did not come out and play great early on. We have to come out and start fast and do our thing the way we've done it all year long."

The Sharks rank first in the AFL in rushing. The Soul's key to the game is to limit Sharks quarterback Bernard Morris.

"It was all due to their quarterback," Dolezel said about the Sharks' rushing attack. "It's all about Morris rushing around. We are pretty good at our own run game, as well. It's just a matter of keeping him contained. He is going to have some big runs. We can't control everything. He's a great athlete, but we need to limit him to certain situations."

Dolezel said the priority is "keeping Morse in the pocket."

"Their quarterback is a great scrambler; he throws the ball well, too," he said. "He is a dual threat. We have to keep him contained and make sure he doesn't beat us with his legs."

The Sharks also have a great pass rush on the defensive side of the ball. They were first in the league in sacks per game, but the Soul have a plan to counter.

"The plan is to mix it up with runs, screens, some three-step drops to keep them a little off-balance so they are not just pinning their ears back," Dolezel said. "We're trying to keep away from third-and-longs, fourth downs period, and just moving the ball and play catch."

If the Soul can do all of those things, they will be headed to ArenaBowl XXVI on Aug. 17.

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