Coming off an 8-4-1 season and a double overtime loss in the conference championship game last year, the Maryland Phantoms couldn’t be more ready to kick off the 2016 season.
“That loss was to the team we beat the year before to win the championship,” owner Emanuel Glover told DFUSA. “That was the defining moment of last season because we were on pace to repeat.”
The Phantoms, which are based out of Baltimore, Maryland, and compete in the Atlantic Football Association, were founded in 2010 by Glover. Known for their tough, aggressive play, their defense has been given the nickname “Psych Ward.”
The Psych Ward is led by 6-foot-2, 195-pound defensive end Erik Johnson, 6-foot-2, 355-pound defensive tackle Lance Williams and 5-foot-7, 160-pound linebacker Dante Hines.
“Erik Johnson is one heck of a player, someone that the opposing team should always have their eye on,” Hines told DFUSA. “He’s a player that will make you change your offense to try and keep him from your quarterback and most of all he’s a leader.
“We all expect Lance Williams to be one of the most dominant defensive tackles in this league. He demands a double team. A player like that is always great for your team because he’s not worried about himself and with him in a one-on-one battle, he can’t lose.”
Offensively, the Phantoms operate on a spread, read option concept and are expecting a big year out of 5-foot-9, 225-pound running back Shanorm Young and 6-foot-3 and 185-pound quarterback Cuan Edwards.
“Shanorm, simply put is a team player,” Cleveland McNeil said. “He’s always supportive of the next man. While we’re on the field, on defense, it’s one voice you always hear on the sideline feeding us energy and support and that’s Shanorm. You feed off him because you know when offense up he’s going to give you everything. His passion is unmatched.”
“Cuan, he never gets rattled. He makes a mistake, he fixes it. He throws a touchdown, he wants more. He leads his offense and the whole team trusts him. He’s been in plenty of big games, so when we’re in a tight one I know never being able to rattle Cuan gives us an edge.”
The Phantoms will kick off their regular season March 12 against the Metro Phoenix.
“The Psych Ward is ready for the Metro Phoenix offense,” Hines said. “They are a great team, a good offensive line and an okay wide receiving core. We plan on stopping them by using what we learned from practice. We have a group of guys that have played on the same team for some years now and we know we want this year to be a championship and nothing less, so every team will get nothing but our best.”