In its second year of existence, the Baltimore Brigade has reached the pinnacle of the Arena Football League.
But they’re not done yet.
“We haven’t accomplished our goal. We got to the game but we don’t play for t-shirts. We want to play for championship rings. Our team understands that,” said Brigade head coach Omarr Smith.
After knocking off the defending champion Philadelphia Soul, Baltimore will play the Washington Valor Saturday night in Arena Bowl XXXI.
“This is where we expected to be at this point. However, we’re not done yet,” said Brigade quarterback Randy Hippeard.
“This is for all the marbles,” added Brigade linebacker Dexter Jackson. “You start sitting back and really start thinking about it, you really get anxious. You get a little excited. You get a little nervous too.”
Coach Smith isn’t nervous. He has won seven Arena League titles in his career - four as a player, three as a coach.
“In the championship game it comes down to the details, the little things,” said Smith. “The big things are going to take care of itself. It’s all about the small details.”
The Brigade entered the playoffs as the No. 3 seed with a 7-5 record. The Valor were seeded fourth in the four-team AFL, with a 2-10 record. But D.C. has found its game.
“They’re kind of doing what you want a team to do and that’s get hot going into the playoffs,” said Hippeard.
Arena Bowl XXXI was supposed to be played at the venue of the participating team with the better attendance throughout the season. That distinction belongs to the Valor. However, because of renovations at Capital One Arena, the title game will be played Royal Farms Arena.
“It’s one of those things where, yeah, it kind of feels like fate,” said Hippeard.
“You can call it luck. You can call it whatever you want. We feel like it’s where it’s supposed to be. We’re going to enjoy this time,” added Jackson.
Both the Brigade and Valor are owned by Ted Leonsis and Monumental Sports and Entertainment.
Kickoff for Arena Bowl XXXI is set for Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.