Saturday, August 18, 2012

Arena Bowl XXV

By Keith Antigiovanni

The Arizona Rattlers wrapped up the 25th season of the Arena Football League and the franchises 20th season with a 72-54 win over Philadelphia in Arena Bowl XXV.

The Arena Bowl win was the Rattlers first title since 1997 when they defeated Kurt Warner's Iowa Barnstormers in Arena Bowl XI. The win also marked the return to dominance for the Arizona franchise which had been one of the league's great teams between 1993 and 2004.

The franchise began in 1992 as one of four expansion teams along with San Antonio, Cincinnati and New Orleans and were coached by former Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Danny White. White led them to the playoffs in 1993 and an Arena Bowl title in 1994 after they upset Orlando 36-31.

Arizona made the playoffs 12 straight years (1993-2004) and appeared in five Arena Bowls (1994, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004) winning the first two. White and the team parted ways after the Arena Bowl defeat in 2004.The next four years (2005-2008) the best the Rattlers could do were 2 (.500) playoff seasons. The league went on hiatus in 2009 and returned in 2010.

Kevin Guy became the new coach in 2008 and stayed with the team throughout the hiatus. Guy led them back to the playoffs in 2010 with a 10-6 record, then returned to the playoffs in 2011 with a 16-2 record, a Western title and a return to the Arena Bowl only to fall just short against Jacksonville. Arizona posted another brilliant season in 2012 with a 13-5 record, second straight Western and conference title but this time finally won that elusive third championship.

Arizona can be considered one of the greatest franchises in the history of the league with a regular season record of 187-105, 17 of 20 years in the playoffs, 12 semi-final appearances, 7 Arena Bowls and 3 championships.

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