Courtesy: Albany Empire Media Relations
Returning home for the first time in a month, the Empire moved to 6-0 on the season after defeating the Washington Valor, 58- 48, at the Times Union Center last Saturday afternoon. Albany had a hot first half, getting ahead early and was able to fend off the Valor comeback in the fourth quarter. Next up, the Empire stays home for the first and only 2019 regular season matchup against the Baltimore Brigade. Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Times Union Center on Saturday, June 8 and broadcast live on MY4 Albany, ESPN 3, and Alt 105.7 FM. The Empire have declared a ‘Code Orange’ for this weekend’s game and ask that all fans wear orange to support the team against the Brigade.
The first matchup to come into play is between the Brigade’s wide receiver unit against the Empire’s defensive backfield. Baltimore quarterback, Shane Boyd, likes to spread the ball around to all of his weapons, making the Brigade offense difficult to stop at times. Of Boyd’s 25 passing touchdowns on the season, 21 of them are split between the team’s top three receivers. Leading the way in touchdown receptions is Joe Hills with nine. Hills spent all of 2018 with the Empire and led the League in touchdown receptions a year ago. The veteran receiver carries an active streak and League record of 98 consecutive games with a touchdown reception; a streak that Albany will look to end. Receiver Milton Williams leads the Brigade unit with 405 receiving yards while Brandon Collins tops the team with 34 receptions. All three receivers average over 10 yards per catch so far on the season, picking up big chunks of yards on a consistent basis.
The next matchup to lookout for is between the Empire’s high- powered offense against the Brigade’s second-ranked scoring defense. Baltimore’s defense has been a bright spot for the team this season, allowing just 230 points through six games, only 13 more points allowed than Albany. The Empire offense has lit up the scoreboard all season, including scoring at least 54 points in each of the last four games. Led by Grady at Quarterback, the offense has looked unstoppable and can score on any given play. Grady currently tops the League in touchdown passes (35) and completion percentage (71.1) and has many weapons of his own to spread the ball around to. On the flip side, the Brigade defense has been turnover-hungry all season long, leading the League with nine forced fumbles, and tying Albany with six interceptions. Defensive back, Joe Powell, leads the League with three interceptions while former Empire defensive lineman, Darryl Cato-Bishop leads the team with two sacks. Baltimore’s defense will certainly be Albany’s toughest task to date, but the Empire might still have too many weapons for the Brigade to contain.