Soul leans on Raudabaugh as season is set to begin

Dan Raudabaugh : One of the AFL's top passers in '13.
Dan Raudabaugh : One of the AFL's top passers in '13.
Posted: March 15, 2014

It's been a long offseason for the Soul, who lost the ArenaBowl to Arizona.

But for quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, it's been especially long. The Soul fell, 48-39, to Arizona in last year's title game, but had possession and a chance to take the lead with less than a minute remaining.

"It was about 51/2 months but it felt like 51/2 years," said Raudabaugh, who was a four-year starter at Miami of Ohio. "Two long off-seasons in a row."

Now it's time for the Soul to get back to work.

The team gathered on the baseball field inside the Coliseum in Voorhees on Monday afternoon, and couldn't resist the lure of the equipment scattered across the turf.

A few played catch. Fullback Derrick Ross self-hit a line drive and declared himself Alex Rodriguez.

Then coach Clint Dolezel appeared and told them, in his Texas drawl, to drop the gloves and put on their uniforms.

The offseason was officially over.

The Soul begin this season by visiting the team that ended the last two, the Rattlers, Saturday night at 9. They'll again look to Raudabaugh who, like his coach, was a high school quarterback in Texas. The 26-year old ranked second in the AFL in passing efficiency and third in yards per game in 2013.

Quarterback talent is key in a league where offenses routinely put up 75 points, and the Soul has plenty of it. Raudabaugh called Dolezel, an AFL Hall of Famer who he also played under in Dallas, "the best coach in the league."

Meanwhile, team co-owner Ron Jaworski, who knows something about quarterbacking in Philadelphia, saved his highest praise for Raudabaugh.

"Just like the National Football League it starts with the quarterback," Jaworski said. "We have what I believe is the best quarterback in the Arena Football League in Dan Raudabaugh."


A Closer Look at the Soul

Last season: 12-6, first place in American Conference East Division. Lost Arena Bowl, 48-39, to Arizona.

Key returners: Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, wide receiver Tiger Jones, fullback Derrick Ross, defensive back Rayshaun Kizer.

Key additions: Offensive lineman Adam Smith, offensive lineman Wayne Tribue.

Outlook: The Soul again will be one of the AFL's top teams. The team with the best record will host this year's ArenaBowl. - Marl Macyk


mmacyk@phillynews.com

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