Washington Valor quarterback Sean Brackett reintroduced himself to competitive AFL action (his first start since 2015 when he played for the Las Vegas Outlaws) when he took over for injured starter Erik Meyer on Saturday, May 27 against the visiting champs Philadelphia Soul.
The re-acclimation process wasn’t always smooth, but Brackett did enough to raise the eyebrows of his head coach Dean Cokinos as he threw five touchdowns before coming up just short of a major upset, losing 48-47 to the Soul.
Cokinos noted how difficult it was to perform against an elite team, especially when a player hasn’t touched the field in a year.
“It was really a good effort for him the first game,” said Cokinos. “It’s really hard to do when you haven’t played, and against a good team like this to battle like that… tremendous job.”
Coach Cokinos wasn’t alone in praising Brackett’s efforts as he was named the Offensive Player of the Game.
Brackett said he played loose and eventually got more comfortable as the game progressed. This was, in part, due to the fact that he wasn’t restrained by the proverbial ‘training wheels’ that are placed on backup quarterbacks as he attempted a game-high 44 passes.
“We were just playing,” said Brackett. “That’s what coach always says…and I thought we did a pretty good job of that today.”
Cokinos made it a bit easier on his new guy under center by calling short pass plays for the majority of the game. Brackett’s longest completion was 26 yards. When he tried to push the ball down the field farther than 20 yards, he sailed it over the receivers heads. His deep throws lacked touch and chemistry. Brackett didn’t throw an interception, however, and showed immediate camaraderie with 6-foot-6 wide out Greg Carr. The two connected for four touchdowns, three coming in the first half alone.
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Brackett could barely contain his excitement when describing the newfound relationship with his No. 1 target.
“Man, Greg’s a freak. It’s like throwing to LeBron out there,” he said.
Carr had one of the best performances of his four-year career and accounted for 131 yards of Brackett’s game-high 231. He was impressed with Brackett’s first performance and sounded confident in his ability to lead the team in the near future.
“[Brackett] is tough as hell,” said Carr. “We’ll go to war with Sean any day of the week. Through the ups and downs, regardless of what went on, he looked confident in the huddle and he kept playing.”
Brackett did face some adversity when he struggled to move the offense in a scoreless third quarter and even lost a fumble after being sandwiched by two Soul defenders. The Valor headed into the fourth quarter down 42-28. But, Brackett would recover and throw two more touchdowns in the fourth, the last of which was his first non-Carr hookup as he found Josh Reese for a 13-yard score that closed the gap to 42-41 with 3:52 remaining.
If it weren’t for a missed extra point, and a botched snap on an extra point on the next drive, an argument could be made that Brackett was in line to complete the upset of the AFL season.
One thing’s for sure, the Valor have the utmost confidence in their new man and are comfortable battling with him the rest of the season with him under center.