The Albany Empire will be playing their inaugural season in the AFL in 2018. They also come into the league looking like favorites to some to win ArenaBowl XXXI. With what they have, they can reach that mark.
All four teams in the Arena Football League have rosters stacked with talent, including Albany. But they have the second best roster in the league behind Washington. Four receivers on the roster, Malachi Jones, Julius Gregory, Greg Carr, Collin Taylor and Julian Talley, can all make noise on offense. It also helps that they have a very talented quarterback in Tommy Grady throwing to them.
On defense, there are also big names on the roster. Willie McGinnis is a big-time defensive lineman who’s done well throughout his career. Defensive back Varmah Sonie lit it up in Baltimore last season and he could do it again this season.
Even their coaching staff says a lot about what could happen in upstate New York. Head coach Rob Keefe last coached with the Orlando Predators in 2016. That team finished as one of the top teams in the league and hosted a playoff game.
While they should’ve won that game, it was still a talented team that season. Keefe also brings several titles on his resume to the city of Albany.
Assistant head coach Les Moss has been part of five ArenaBowl champions, including being the head coach of the 2011 Jacksonville Sharks championship team. Offensive coordinator Lee Thompson won 2017 National Arena League Coach of the Year with the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks and has made the playoffs 11 of his 12 seasons as a coach.
Albany will kick off their season looking to win ArenaBowl XXXI by hosting the team that won ArenaBowl XXX, the Philadelphia Soul. That game will be played at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY this Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.
The 2018 Arena Football League season will run from April 13 and the regular season will conclude the weekend of July 7. The playoffs will be a home-and-home series the weekends of July 14 and July 21. Should the two teams split the series, the winner will be decided by score. ArenaBowl XXXI will be hosted by the highest-remaining seed on Saturday, July 28.