Cobras vs. Sharks sounds like the name of an exciting nature documentary, in which two apex predators are pitted against one another . However, this was not the case on the field Tuesday night, as the Carolina Cobras easily dispatched the defending National Arena League (NAL) champions, the Jacksonville Sharks, by a score of 73-48.
The Cobras’ resounding victory will allow them to advance to the NAL Championship game against the Columbus Lions which will take place at the Greensboro Coliseum on August 27th at 7:00 p.m.
To put the Cobra’s accomplishments this season into perspective, it must be remembered that this season is the team’s inaugural season in the NAL. Much like the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL, what the Cobras have been able to accomplish this season is unprecedented.
This has not been a cinderella run for the Cobras, as they were dominant in the regular season as well. The team boasted the number-one scoring offense in the league, finishing with an average of 59.3 points per game.
The Cobras also enforced their will on the defensive side, as they were the number two scoring defense in the league, only allowing 39.6 points per game, earning the league’s best record and a home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Cobras also finished the season with an average point differential of 19.7 points per game, by far the best mark in the league.
Against the Sharks, the Cobra’s proved that their regular season dominance was no fluke, and that this team is a legitimate contender. The game was seemingly over before it started, as the Cobra’s raced out to a score of 19-0 by the end of the first quarter.
From the first whistle, the Cobras appeared to be the more composed team as the Sharks accumulated a staggering four penalties during the opening possession, setting the path for a Cobra touchdown.
After the touchdown, Cobras kicker Craig Peterson was able to convert a deuce, a play in NAL football where a ball is kicked through the uprights for the kicking team to be rewarded with two points, giving the Cobras a 9-0 lead.
The momentum would continue to carry through for the Cobras, as they went on to force consecutive turnover-on-downs, leading to a field goal and a touchdown, giving the Cobras a 19-0 lead going into the second quarter.
As can be seen by the fact that the Cobras’ second-ranked defense allows nearly 40 points per game, NAL games tend to be very high scoring. The fact that the Cobras were able to pitch a shutout in the first quarter is impressive. Following the end of the first quarter, the Cobras never allowed for the lead to shrink lower than 19 for the rest of the game as they achieved their dominant 73-48 victory.
After the game, the Cobras’ offensive lineman Chad Kolumber had this to say: “[Some of the keys to the game were] protecting our quarterback and getting after theirs; games are won and lost in the trenches and [winning] is what we came out to do.”
On the topic of the team’s dominant defensive performance in the first quarter, Kolumber said that “we put a lot of work in and that having an extra two days of practice really helped out.”
Kolumber would continue to give credit to the Cobras’ overall team preparation as one of the major keys to victory. “On off-days and non-practice days, both guys on offense and defense would get together and watch film in order to make sure that the team would be ready to come out and be dominant on both sides of the ball.”
In his final statement, Kolumber moved on to discussing the NAL Championship Game, stating that, in order to win the championship, the team “must continue to put in their hard work on days off when we are not practicing, continue to improve our conditioning in the weight room and take advantage of the 13 days that they have until game day.”
With the team going into the championship with the right mentality, perhaps a professional franchise will soon be added to the Hall of Champions at the Coliseum.