Lions vs Sharks: Keys to the Game

by Alex Husting

This Saturday the Lions will return from a three week break to take on the Jacksonville Sharks. Here are some of the keys to victory for the Lions and how they can extend their winning streak to five.

1. Create Turnovers

Forcing turnovers is a way for defenses to disrupt an opposing offense's rhythm and create scoring opportunities for their own offense and this year the Lions defense has excelled at that. The Lions have the best turnover differential in the NAL with +8 and the defense has wreaked havoc for opposing quarterbacks with 14 total forced turnovers this year. The Sharks have struggled with turning the ball over throughout the season and in his three games with the team, quarterback Danny Southwick has thrown five interceptions. If the Lions can find a way to force Southwick to make some mistakes early then the Lions will be in a good position to win in Jacksonville for the first time ever.

2. Convert on Special Teams

Special teams have yet to play as big of a factor in games for the Lions since their season opening loss to the Albany Empire. In that game the Lions left 10 points on the field in terms of missed extra point attempts and failed two-point conversions. Since that game the Lions have won every contest by double digits and special teams have not played a factor but success with special teams can change a game. Missing an extra point or two-point conversion can hurt the team's momentum after they reach the end zone and in close games they can make all the difference. Ryan Gates has returned from IR since getting injured against the Sharks in June and with their kicker back the Lions will rely on him to convert extra points and put pressure on the Sharks and Brandon Behr who has struggled with kicking this year.

3. Spread the Ball Around

The Lions have been one of the best offenses in the NAL this season with Mason Espinosa leading the way. The NAL MVP candidate has thrown for 1183 yards and 32 touchdowns on 71.0% completion percentage, all top-2 in the league. Part of the reason the Lions and Espinosa have found such success is due to the talent that they have assembled on offense. Antwane Grant, Lonnie Outlaw, Romond Deloatch and Desmond Reece have all showcased their talent at different moments during the season and when Espinosa is able to incorporate all of his receivers in the passing game, opposing defenses struggle to find an answer.  Spreading the ball around keeps defenses guessing and forces them to respect each receiver and not focus their attention on one player.

The Lions are heading to Jacksonville with a lot on the line as they look to make history with their first ever win in Jacksonville and keep their winning streak alive.

Kickoff in Jacksonville is set for 7 p.m. EST. The game can be watched live with CTV Beam, at or on the NAL’s official Youtube channel


The Columbus Lions are members of the National Arena League (NAL). Founded in 2007, the Columbus Lions are starting their 15th season in 2021. The Lions are a 3x league champion and 13 playoff appearances in their rich history. The Lions play their home games at Hughston Field in the Columbus Civic Center. Lions Season Ticket Memberships are on sale now call (706) 322-3336 or visit Follow the Lions on Facebook at, twitter @columbuslions and


The National Arena League was founded in 2016 and hosted its inaugural season in 2017 as the premier league in arena football. The National Arena League will kick off its fifth season in 2021. For more information regarding expansion opportunities or partnerships, contact Commissioner Chris Siegfried at For more information about the NAL visit,,,