9th Man Nation


Courtesy: Albany Empire Media Relations

ALBANY, NY – Albany travels to the Nation’s Capital this weekend for a rematch against the Washington Valor. In the first matchup, the Empire won big, 47-23, and were able to capitalize on multiple Valor turnovers. The Empire expect to keep the momentum going as the team ranked second in the power rankings looks to continue to assert it’s dominance in the league and be a team that nobody wants to play against.

The first matchup to lookout for is in the trenches between the Empire defensive line and the Valor offensive line. In the first matchup between the two team’s, the Empire caused havoc all night for Valor Quarterback Warren Smith. The Empire forced three turnovers and accumulated three sacks in the team’s rout of the Valor. Look for Empire defensive end Joe Sykes to continue his dominance. Through three games, Sykes leads the league with four sacks and two forced fumbles. The veteran leads a loaded defensive front that will continue to be a nightmare for the Valor in the second consecutive week.

Sticking with the defense, keep an eye on defensive back Marrio Norman. Last week against the Valor, Norman was all over the field and a huge part of a defensive unit that only allowed 23 points. Norman led the way with 10 tackles and two interceptions; one of which he brought back for a touchdown. Norman is a hardnosed back who loves to get in the face of opposing receivers. Look for him to see a lot of Valor WR’s Josh Reese and Rod Windsor on Friday. These two are the Valor’s top targets by far and will look to find the end zone more than three times against the Empire at home.

The final matchup to lookout for is Malachi Jones versus the Valor secondary. As a rookie, Jones has been a stud through his first three games with the Empire. Jones leads the team in receiving yards with 226 and has chipped in four total touchdowns; two of which were 40+ yard catch-and-run scores. The Valor defense will have their hands full trying to stop dominant Joe Hills which might leave some holes for Jones to find. Jones has been great in the short/medium pass game. Look for him to run slant routes to get into open space and make a move to find pay dirt. His combination of speed and elusiveness can be a terror on defensive players trying to take him down. You can expect Jones to add to his team lead in yards and even chip in a touchdown or two as he has become a constant and reliable target for QB Tommy Grady

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