FOR OPENERS, THE STREETS WILL RUMBLE WITH THE SHARKS IN JACKSONVILLE
The Streets open up their inaugural NAL season on Saturday night against the Sharks in Jacksonville.
By Peter Schwartz
The waiting is over.
Eleven years after the New York Dragons stepped off the field for the final time, Arena Football is back in the Big Apple as the New York Streets being play this weekend. The Streets kick off their inaugural season in the National Arena League on Saturday night when they take on the Jacksonville Sharks at the Jacksonville Memorial Arena (7PM YouTube).
Getting the Streets off the ground and onto the gridiron has been a lengthy process for owner Corey Galloway, but the final countdown is upon the brand new franchise. After an off-season of hiring coaches and staff and then signing players, it’s almost time for the Streets to step on the field.
“The season opener is like the first day of Christmas,” said Galloway. “You’re so excited you can’t sleep and you can’t relax. We are excited to put our best foot forward and looking for a great outcome once the clock hits 0:00.”
The Streets will start their season against a franchise that is no stranger to Arena Football having won an AFL championship in 2011 and then the very first NAL title in 2017. The Sharks are coached by Arena Football legend Siaha Burley and they will present a big challenge to the Streets right off the bat.
After going through training camp at their Brooklyn Lifestyle Athletic Center practice facility, the Streets are ready for some football.
“These young men worked their tails off during camp to make the 26 man roster,” said Streets Head Coach Rick Marsilio. “We’ll dress 21 for game day. As everyone knows, we’re young but we are very excited about these young guys.”
One of those young guys is Streets center Nate Ryan who is from Staten Island. The former Port Richmond High School star, who played college football at Morrisville State in upstate New York, has previous Arena Football experience with the Green Bay Blizzard and Billings Wolves. He took some time off from playing football to focus on a full-time career and his family but now he’s back on the field thanks to the Streets giving him a hometown team to play for.
“I’m very excited to strap up again after taking some time off,” said Streets center Nate Ryan. “It’s been a pleasure going to camp with such a talented group of players.”
Ryan will be snapping the ball to one of three quarterbacks on the Streets roster. Former Syracuse signal caller David Legree along with Bryan Hicks (Southwestern University) and EJ Nemeth (Sacred Heart University) have been battling in training camp for the starting job. Former Army wide receiver Edgar Allen Poe will be a primary target on offense along with receivers Devonte Jenkins and Travis Poole.
On defense, the Streets have some talented players from major colleges around the country including former Appalachian State linebacker Devan Stringer, former Ole Miss defensive lineman Herbert Moore and former Alabama defensive lineman Brandon Ivory.
The Streets’ roster is a mix of veterans and young players, some who have never played Arena Football. There are some basic similarities between the indoor game and football on the big field but there are also many concepts that make the 50 yard indoor war unique like the eight on eight format, the quickness of the game, and the high scoring aspect with defenses having to defend the high motion receiver, the player who gets a running start towards the line of scrimmage before the snap.
New Rochelle native Ray Durrett is set for his first Arena Football game. The linebacker/defensive end played his college football at American International College and he is ready for his first taste of the indoor game against a quality opponent.
“I’m hyped to play in my first arena game and be a part of history playing in the first game for the Streets,” said Durrett. “We know Jacksonville is a talented team and we’re going to be playing in a hostile environment but we’re prepared and ready for the challenge.”
As for the Streets’ first ever opponent, the Sharks finished the 2018 regular season with 10-6 record and made the playoffs before losing to the Carolina Cobras in the semifinals. The Sharks feature new starting quarterback Jonathan Bane as well as All-NAL wide receiver Devin Wilson.
“They’re an historic franchise with rich history and I know they are going to bring it,” said Ryan.
While Streets fans will have to wait a week to see their team in person, they’ll be able to tune into Saturday night’s 7pm game against the Sharks in Jacksonville by visiting the NAL’s YouTube page and then clicking on the Streets/Sharks link.
The Streets will play their home opener against the Orlando Predators on Saturday April 20th at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. Kickoff is at 7pm and tickets are available at ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. For season tickets, please visit www.nystreetsfootball.com and click on the “season tickets” banner.