James Romain is a key behind the Soul defense. — PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PHILADELPHIA SOUL

James Romain is a key behind the Soul defense. — PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PHILADELPHIA SOUL

Philadelphia Soul veteran James Romain was honored as the AFL Defensive Back of the Year for a second straight season on Monday, becoming the first player to earn the award multiple times. 2019 also marks the fourth straight season that a Soul player has won.

During the regular season, Romain recorded a league-leading eight interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns, while adding a team-high 12 pass break-ups. He’s continued his stellar play this postseason, picking off Valor quarterback Arvell Nelson three times in the first game of the teams’ home-and-home series.

This is the fifth time in the award’s eight-year history that a Philadelphia player has taken home the honors. The Soul’s previous winners include: Kent Richardson (2012), Tracy Belton (2016), Dwayne Hollis (2017), and Romain (2018 and ’19).

Romain will be honored at the AFL Awards Ceremony on Saturday Aug. 10 at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York.

On Sunday, Aug. 11, Romain and the Soul will play the Albany Empire in ArenaBowl 32 at 8 p.m. at the Times Union Center. The Soul advanced by defeating the Washington Valor 48-41 on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Soul is 1-2 against the Empire this year, though one of those losses came in the final game of the regular season, a matchup that featured both teams’ backup quarterbacks for the entire second half.

After winning the first leg of the home-and-home series 69-33 in Washington, the Soul wasted no time adding to their lead. Following a Valor turnover on downs to start the game, Philadelphia quarterback Dan Raudabaugh found receiver Darius Prince on the first play of the team’s opening drive for a 23-yard touchdown. A First Team All-Arena selection, Prince has scored in 17 straight games dating back to 2018.

From there, the teams traded scores, with Prince hauling in two more touchdowns, including the game-winner with just over two minutes to play. In four games against the Valor this season, he’s accounted for 433 yards and nine scores. Second Team All-Arena fullback Adrian Ferns added two touchdowns of his own, one rushing and one receiving in the win.

The Valor attempted seven onside kicks, six of which were recovered by the Soul. And while Washington quarterback Arvell Nelson threw for an impressive 363 yards and four touchdowns, he again found himself under pressure. The Soul defense picked off the Second Team All-Arena signal caller twice while sacking him a season-high five times. — (AP)

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