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Firing on all cylinders, the Empire took care of business against the League’s newest franchise, the Columbus Destroyers, last Saturday night in a dominant season opener. A stifling defense kept Columbus in check, limiting the Destroyers to a mere19 points as the Empire cruised to victory.  This week, Albany hosts the 2018 ArenaBowl champs, the Washington Valor.  Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Times Union Center on Saturday, May 4 and broadcast live on MY4 Albany, Monumental Sports Network, and Alt 105.7 FM.

The significant matchup to come into play is the Empire’s defensive ability to contain the Valor’s offense.  In Week One, the Valor posted 51 points in a losing effort against the Baltimore Brigade.  On the flip side of the coin, Albany surrendered just 19 points and put on a defensive clinic against the Destroyers.   Valor quarterback, Arvell Nelson, had a big night, spreading the ball around to five different receivers and tossing eight touchdowns.  Rookie receiver, Dezmon Epps, had an incredible League debut, catching nine balls for 201 yards and four touchdowns.  The Empire defensive unit has to find a way to slow down the Valor’s offense and limit their ability to put up points in a hurry.

The key to an Empire victory in this matchup is simple: find a way to slow down the Valor offense.  That might be easier said than done, but it’s worth noting that Albany kept Columbus from scoring in three of their four red zone trips in Week One.  Every time it looked like the Destroyers would find pay dirt, they seemingly didn’t.  On top of that, Albany forced five turnovers, two of which were on downs.  Nelson has been prone to turnovers, throwing two interceptions in the loss to the Brigade a week ago.  Expect the Empire to look for different ways to cause turnovers and keep the Washington offense from gaining any momentum and easily driving down the field.

The next matchup to lookout for is between the Empire’s balanced offense against the Valor’s defense.  In Week One, Washington may have scored 51 points, but surrendered 59 in the loss.  As good as their offense performed, their defense got torched, giving up points on all but one of Baltimore’s possessions.  Albany has enough weapons on offense to keep Washington on their heels all game long.  The Empire must take advantage of extra possessions given to them by their defense and not waste any scoring opportunities. 

The key to victory in this matchup is for quarterback, Tommy Grady, to continue to spread the ball around on offense.  In the Week One victory, Grady connected with all five Empire receivers.  Fullback, Mykel Benson, carried the ball five times, giving the Empire a dual threat offensive attack.  The 2018 Wide Receiver of the Year and Rookie of the Year, Malachi Jones, received the lion’s share of the targets, catching 11 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown.  Jones may draw a lot of attention from the Valor defense, giving opportunities for other receivers to step up.  Newly acquired receivers, Quentin Sims and Demetres Stephens, had big games, combining for 12 catches, 111 yards, and two touchdowns.  Grady certainly has plenty of options to throw to, and that can and will cause holes in the Washington defense.  Though Albany stalled at 35 points in the season opener, don’t be surprised to see Grady and the Empire offense light up the scoreboard and put up 50 plus points this week.

The final matchup and key to victory for an Empire win is to get ahead early and to set the tone by keeping Washington from getting off to a hot start again.  The Valor came out of the gates fast in Week One, posting 31 first half points.  On the other side of halftime however, Washington only scored 20 points, allowing Baltimore to stay in the game and eventually win it. Albany has the tools on the defensive side of the ball to limit the Valor’s offensive success all game long, but it’s crucial that the Empire step up early.  If one of the Empire’s defensive backs, or even the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Terence Moore, can come up with an early turnover and give the ball back to the offense in a good position to score, then the Albany can get ahead early and keep the foot on the gas.

Fans can secure season tickets for the Albany Empire by calling 518-533-2200, by going to, or by stopping by the Empire office located in the Times Union Center.  A limited number of great seats are still available!  Want to bring your organization to a game, fundraise, or perform on the field? Group experiences are now on sale.  Call 518-533-2200 for additional information.

Albany Empire 2019 Season Presented By CDPHP.

About Albany Empire

Season memberships for the 2019 season are on sale now. For tickets, contact the Albany Empire sales department at (518) 533-2200 or by going to Follow the team on Facebook at and Twitter at

About the Arena Football League

The Arena Football League enters its 32nd season in 2019. Since its inception in 1987, the AFL showcases a fast-paced, exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets. With the addition of two new teams in Atlantic City, N.J., and Columbus, O.H., the League totals six teams for 2019: Albany, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Columbus, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Each team will play 12 regular-season games in 2019. One can find the League can on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using the handle @OfficialAFL.

About Times Union Center

Albany’s Times Union Center, formerly Pepsi Arena, continues to have great success. Renamed in January 2007, the Times Union Center is “Upstate New York’s Premier Sports and Entertainment Facility. Owned by Albany County and operated by SMG, the world’s largest private management firm for public assembly facilities, the Times Union Center has an adaptable seating capacity between 6,000 and 17,500. Since Frank Sinatra christened the building on January 30, 1990, more than seven million patrons have walked through the turnstiles. As a multi-purpose facility, the Times Union Center has hosted a variety of events, including concerts, family shows and sporting events, averaging 165 events each year. 

About CDPHP®

Established in 1984, CDPHP is a physician-founded, member-focused and community-based not-for-profit health plan that offers high-quality affordable health insurance plans to members in 26 counties throughout New York. CDPHP is also on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Instagram.

Albany Empire Partners

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