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AFL Eastern Division Preview

Updated at Jan 23, 2024

The Eastern Division of the Arena Football League includes some of the most notable names of the Arena Football 2024 reboot with teams in Albany, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Nashville.

The Eastern Division of the Arena Football League includes some of the most notable names of the Arena Football 2024 reboot, including the Albany Firebirds, Philadelphia Soul, and the Nashville Kats. The Eastern Division also welcomes a brand new franchise in the Minnesota Myth.

Albany Firebirds

Location: Albany, NY

Arena Name and Capacity: MVP Arena, 13,875

Head Coach: Damon Ware

It will be double duty in Albany, as head coach Damon Ware will also be wearing the general manager cap for the Firebirds. Ware brings Arena experience from his time as a championship-caliber offensive coordinator for the Albany Empire of the NAL, clinching back-to-back championships in 2021 and 2022.

Key Signings

Caleb Smith - WR/DB Towson

Smith brings with him a high production level from his last season in the NAL with the Iowa Barnstormers. In 2023, he put up a staggering 43 receptions along with 15 touchdowns.

Marquel Wade - WR/DB Arkansas

Marquel Wade was a highly coveted recruit for Bobby Petrino’s Arkansas Razorbacks out of Florida. Last season, he found himself in his home state with the Jacksonville Sharks of the NAL, where he amassed four touchdowns on 13 receptions and 227 receiving yards. At 5-10 190lbs, Wade is a speedster and a playmaker.

Tony Fair - OL/DL Auburn

Tony Fair adds SEC size to the Firebirds lines. His 6-1 330lb frame has allowed him to be a contributor at every level of football he’s played. In his time playing FBS football, he tallied 66 total tackles along with 3.0 sacks in two seasons at UAB and one season in the SEC at Auburn. Last season, Fair spent time in reserve duty with the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL, where he had 11 total tackles, 6 of which were solo.

Franchise History

The Albany Firebird name has a rich AFL history in New York State. Originally formed in 1990, they stayed in Albany until moving to Indianapolis in 2000. In that ten-year span, the Albany Firebirds made the AFL playoffs eight times and took home a victory in Arena Bowl XIII over the Orlando Predators in 1999.

Minnesota Myth

Location: St. Paul, MN

Arena Name and Capacity: TBD

Head Coach: Rickey Foggie

Rickey Foggie is a name that will ring bells in the Twin Cities with Gopher Fans and fans of the CFL alike from his playing days as a QB. After his time in the CFL and playing in the original AFL, Foggie made the transition to coaching as offensive coordinator of the Amarillo Dusters in AF2 and coached the most productive offense in the league. His most recent head coaching experience comes at the high school ranks with Red Wing (MN) High School.

Key Signings

Isiah Malone - DB Augsburg College

Malone was a standout DB at Augsburg College, but his value add may be his coaching experience. Malone recently served as a volunteer defensive backs coach at his alma mater. In his senior year at Augsburg, Malone showed a nose for the football with three interceptions to go with his eight pass breakups and one fumble recovery.

Franchise History

The history of the Minnesota Myth franchise begins now. It was announced in 2023 that St. Paul, Minnesota, was a target market for the AFL, and in November of 2023, a press release officially announced that the Minnesota Myth would be joining the AFL. They are making history with owner Diana Hutton as the first Latina majority owner in league history.

Nashville Kats

Location: Nashville, TN

Arena Name and Capacity: Nashville Municipal Auditorium, 8,000

Head Coach: Dean Cokinos

Head Coach Dean Cokinos brings a wealth of coaching experience with him to the Nashville Kats. In his 30+ year coaching career, Kokinos has extensive arena league experience in the AFL and AF2, including a stint with the expansion Nashville Kats. In his time previously with the Kats, he also served as a scout for the Tennessee Titans, who owned the team at the time. His most recent coaching experience comes at the high school level.

Key Signings

Robert Lacy - OL/DL Tennessee State

The Nashville Kats had size on their mind when they announced their first signings. Robert Lacy is a hefty 6-4 330 and makes his pro football debut for the Nashville Kats. His frame makes him desirable at any level of football.

Zaycoven Henderson - OL/DL Texas A&M

Zaycoven Henderson spent all four years of his college career with the Aggies at Texas A&M, and he appeared in 47 games, starting 25. In his time at A&M, Henderson amassed 116 total tackles with 8.5 sacks. It was enough to land him a spot with the Cleveland Browns in 2018. He spent last season with the Frisco Fighters of the IFL.

Franchise History

This is the third iteration of the Nashville Kats. Originally formed in 1997, their franchise was moved to Nashville after playing as the Denver Dynamite. However, the Dynamite had not played since 1991. This franchise lasted until 2001, when they were relocated to Atlanta as the Georgia Force. In 2001, they were relaunched as an expansion franchise under the same name and continued in the league until 2005. The 2024 Nashville Kats are owned by Tamara Dadd Alan and Nancy Eckert. Former Titans coach Jeff Fisher is also an advisor to the team.

Philadelphia Soul

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Arena Name and Capacity: TBA

Head Coach: Patrick Pimmel

Pimmel has been around the arena game as a coach for multiple years. He’s served as the head coach of the River City Rage, Omaha Beef, and the Allen Wranglers of the IFL. His last head coaching experience came with the Allen Wranglers before moving to the Orlando Predators of the AFL as an offensive coordinator. The Soul will be his first head coaching job since the Allen Wranglers of the IFL in 2012.

Key Signings

Mitch Kidd - QB University of Redlands

Kidd has made a name for himself in arena leagues, specifically “Cardiac” for his propensity for the dramatic. He’s been a starting quarterback in the CIFL, NAL, as well as the FCF and brings a wealth of experience in professional arean football with him.

Clifton Duck - WR/DB Appalachian State

Clifton Duck caught the eye of NFL scouts at Appalachian State where he picked off 12 passes in a span of three seasons, returning one for a touchdown. He briefly found a home with the Chicago Bears of the NFL before moving north of the border to play with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.

Lamont Wade - WR/DB Penn State

Wade saw action in all four years at Penn State, but the majority of his playing time came his junior and senior seasons. He made the most of his time in State College accumulating 153 tackles in his career with one interception and three sacks. His performance landed him a spot with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a season in 2021.

Franchise History

The Philadelphia Soul have been one of the most recognizable franchises in the AFL due to the star power of their previous ownership group that included Jon Bon Jovi and former Philadelphia Eagles QB and ESPN football analyst Ron Jaworski. They operated uninterrupted for 15 seasons from 2004 to 2019. In that span the Soul captured three Arena Bowl titles, the first coming in 2008 followed by back to back championships in 2016 as well as 2017.

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