This isn’t the first time that the Philadelphia Soul combo of coach Clint Dolezel and quarterback Dan Raudabaugh have gone to the ArenaBowl.
Dolezel, Raudabaugh, and others in the Soul locker room will be drawing from experience as they prepare for Sunday’s championship game in Albany against the Empire.
To reach ArenaBowl XXXII, the Soul needed to get past defending-champion Washington Valor. The semifinals were structured in a home-and-home series, with aggregate scoring. The Soul had a 36-point lead heading into Sunday’s game.
“We didn’t want to limp into [the ArenaBowl], that was the last thing we wanted to do,” Dolezel said. “Nobody has lost the game before you go into the ArenaBowl, and I didn’t want to be the first.”
One of the Soul’s biggest advantages is the number of players who have played in the championship game, Dolezel said.
“I like our flow, what we’re going into it offensively," the coach said. "We know it’s going to be an uphill battle.”
Dolezel expects his players to be excited heading into the title game, but he knows they must do their best to contain it.
“We’ve got to make sure to keep our emotions in check, including me," Dolezel said. "They feed off of me, and I’m a very emotional guy. They play hard. We have those guys in the locker room for a reason.”
Raudabaugh said the experienced players can help those who haven’t been there. The most important thing for young players is to not put pressure on themselves, he said.
“We like having that experience, it’s a good thing, and we’ll be able to use that,” Raudabaugh said. “But I don’t want them to go in thinking that this is anything different than just a football game.”
Raudabaugh isn’t overly worried about the opponents, considering the Soul is familiar with the Empire.
“We know what we’re getting out of Albany," Raudabaugh said. "We’ve only played them like eight times in the last two years -- not a lot of roster turnover.”
Raudabaugh said the team is not stressed about the game.