Arena Football League Philadelphia Soul

Darius Prince, King of ArenaBowl XXX

With a 22-point lead over the Columbus Lions, the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks were well on their way to the inaugural National Arena League championship game. Unfortunately, the Lions were able to come all the way back and pull off the upset in a 52-50 victory.

The loss hurt wide receiver Darius Prince. “I felt it was a game we should have won,” he said, “We played great for the first three quarters but when you can’t put a whole game together, that is what happens. Columbus wanted it more and they showed it.”

Columbus would fall to the Jacksonville Sharks in the National Arena League championship game on July 10 and the season was over. Prince wasn’t done playing football, however. The Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League brought him in for a tryout and by July 25, he was a member of the team.

Just a month and one day later, Prince and the Soul were in ArenaBowl XXX. Prince would get his  chance at a title just two months after falling short in the NAL. He wanted to be sure there would be a different result this time around.

“I was just trying to prep my mind for the biggest game in my life thus far,” he said. “I’ve never played on a stage this high before. [I] knew the atmosphere would be something I never experienced before. I just tried to calm myself, play football and have fun.

“At the end of the day that’s what we are here for so I told myself to just let the game come to me and play the game like I know how to,” he said.

Down 20-7 nearing halftime, the Soul were down, but not out. “Nobody was down. Players and coaches were just trying to stay positive and keep the spirit high,” Prince said. “Not taking anything away from [the] Tampa [Bay Storm], but at that point they scored on a missed field goal that was returned for a touchdown, a receiving touchdown and that interception.

“You take the missed field goal and interception away, it’s a 7-7 game,” he went on. “The game of arena is so fast that anything can happen. We knew we would get the ball back after that go down and score to make the game closer. We have the best defense in the league and we knew that if they could get another stop we could make it happen on offense.”

Philadelphia scored at the end of the half and found themselves down 20-14. They dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Storm 28-7. They would go on to win by a final score of 44-40, winning their second consecutive ArenaBowl title.

Due to his performance (five catches, 27 yards, two touchdowns), Prince was named ArenaBowl XXX MVP.

“It’s a surreal feeling. There were so many other teammates well deserving of this award,” Prince said. “If you told me back on July 25 when I signed I would be the Arena Bowl XXX MVP, I’d probably look at you like you were crazy.

“It’s just the craziest feeling ever to be named MVP. This may be a individual award but this wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for my coaches and teammates. They deserve a lot of credit. To take a rookie like myself and prep me for two big games at the end of the season wasn’t easy,” he went on. “Watching film with me in our off time, helping me read coverages as I’m running my routes, coaching me up at practice, talking to me on the sidelines during games. It wasn’t always the offensive guys, either. Some of our defensive backs would help me and coach me up after I run a route against them.

“That’s what makes this team special. We want to win as a team, nobody plays for themselves. We all buy into what coach is selling us. So I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have played the game I played. I wouldn’t of been prepared for it the way I was without them.”

Prince also said he wouldn’t be returning to the Steelhawks for the 2018 season. “The future is with the Soul or higher,” he said. “Lehigh [Valley] is a great organization, but it was a platform to get to a higher level such as the Soul or CFL/NFL.”

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