Kicker Pat Clarke III has been around arena football a few years. He began his career with the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks in 2015, when they were a member of the now defunct Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL). That team fell to the Columbus Lions in the semifinals.
Clarke played most of 2016 with the Spokane Empire in the Indoor Football League. He also played one game with the Philadelphia Soul as a fill-in kicker. Spokane went on to play in United Bowl VIII against the Sioux Falls Storm. They would lose to the Storm, who won their seven consecutive title in that game.
Clarke had now come up short of a title in two different leagues with two different teams. Clarke told Inside the Arena that the United Bowl loss still hurts him today.
“To come that far and not win is tough. It’s never a good feeling when the other teams colors confetti drops,” he said. Following the 2016 IFL season, Clarke got a call from Philadelphia Soul coach Clint Dolezel, who had called him to fill in for the Soul during the game earlier that year.
“He called me and asked if I had interest. A couple days later my name was called in the first ever CAFL Draft,” he said. Clarke was selected by the Beijing Lions of the China Arena Football League, who Dolezel was the head coach of.
Beijing would go on to finish the regular season undefeated and would host China Bowl I in Nov. 2016. They would face the Qingdao Clipper, who had knocked off favorite Shanghai in the semifinals.
Down 34-32 with an untimed down, Clarke had the chance to win the title for his team. His first kick was missed, and it appeared that Qingdao had pulled off another upset. Clarke knew that wasn’t the case, however.
“The first attempt they got a good rush, and I believe one of there edge rushers got a piece of the ball,” Clarke said. “Luckily for us, they had a good rush, because it was an illegal rush and the refs threw the flag. I saw the flag right away. After the miss, I took a breath and was able to put the next kick down the middle.”
Beijing would go on to win China Bowl I by a final score of 35-34. He still remembers the feeling of helping his team win a championship.
“It was an awesome feeling. My first professional championship. I was happy that I could convert for my teammates and the coaches. Without them, none of it would have been possible,” he said.
Following that, Clarke would join the expansion team Baltimore Brigade. In 2017, he converted on 74 of his 83 extra point attempts and three of four field goals. Baltimore fell to Dolziel and the Soul in their playoff game.
Clarke would then join the Washington Valor, the district rival to the Brigade, for 2018. He has now been part of both sides of the DMV. The two teams may be rivals, but Clarke feels the same about both cities.
“Both cities have great fans and awesome support throughout the community. Both teams are owned by Monumental Sports, and they do a great job of treating the players and coaches great, They are top notch organizations,” he said of both Baltimore and DC. “DC gets better attendance and has a bigger arena, so the game day atmosphere is a little bit different.”
Joining Clarke in both Baltimore and DC is wide receiver Reggie Gray. They have been teammates since 2017, both having played in Baltimore and DC.
“He’s one of the best receivers in the AFL,” Clarke said of his friend. Washington is currently 0-6 on the season and are now under their fourth quarterback of the season in Arvell Nelson. They will look for their first win tomorrow night when they host the Philadelphia Soul at the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.