Week 6 Preview: Albany Empire vs. Columbus Lions

by Tyler Boutwell

This Saturday night, the 2021 NAL Champion Albany Empire return to the Columbus Civic Center looking to maintain their grasp over the arena football galaxy. The Evil Empire has managed a 3-1 record over their first 4 opportunities to defend their championship. Their lone loss coming on opening weekend against the Carolina Cobras 59-51.  More recently, the Empire rode roughshod over the dastardly Jacksonville Sharks last week 62-29. Columbus has matched the Empire’s record on the season but were subject to a similar humbling the week before last at the hands of those same Jacksonville Sharks 49-20. They’ll hope a bye week is enough to wash the taste out of their mouth and get the hay in the barn.

Last game featured a debut for quarterback Danny Southwick. He received little help from the 3 big men up front tasked with providing just that help. It’s tough to get into a rhythm while on your back. Southwick will make his second start against the Empire and looks forward to a lot more time on his feet and in the endzone. The defense similarly struggled, though, 49 points is not a bad showing especially under so much pressure. Both units will look to improve on their latest showings and get back to form. The third unit, special teams, will receive a boost in the form of new signing Blake Erickson out of South Carolina State. Watch the battle of the trenches which will, as always, go a long way in deciding the fight. If Southwick can keep his jersey clean, don’t be surprised to see the Lions light up the scoreboard.

The Empire are led by quarterback Sam Castranova who has impressed in his maiden voyage, replacing Tommy Grady who led the Empire to two league titles, including last year’s infamous besting og the Lions 79-62, in three seasons as QB1. Castranova is dual threat who threw 6 touchdowns in his last outing against the Sharks. His performances are buoyed by the star play of his wideout, Darius Prince, who caught 5 of those 6 touchdown passes. The Empire defense gave up only 29 points in the last matchup but have given up 59, 60, and 61 in the games preceding the positive showing. If the Empire is going to fall, it must be a matter of out gunning their death star-level two-man team of Castranova and Prince.

Saturday night is Childhood Cancer Awareness Night and is sponsored by AFLAC. The link below takes you to an auction for Lions jerseys. All proceeds go to AFLAC Children Cancer Center. https://bit.ly/LionsJerseyAuction Gates open at 6pm, tailgating starts at 5pm.

2022 NAL Season tickets for the Lions are still on sale here.


The Columbus Lions are members of the National Arena League (NAL). Founded in 2007, the Columbus Lions are starting their 16th season in 2022. The Lions are a 3x league champion and 14 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 columbuslions.com. Follow the Lions on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Lionsfootball/, twitter @columbuslions and instagram.com/Columbuslions.


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 sixth season in 2022. For more information regarding expansion opportunities or partnerships, contact Commissioner Chris Siegfried at chris@nationalarenaleague.com For more information about the NAL visit www.nationalarenaleague.com, facebook.com/nationalarenaleauge, twitter.com/NALfootball, Instagram.com/nationalarenaleague.