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Inside the Valor

March 17, 2017
The countdown is on to the opening game in the history of two franchises that are going to provide the Washington and Baltimore area with professional football in the spring and summer, instead of being forced to wait until September.

Friday April 7 th at Verizon Center, the Washington Valor and the Baltimore Brigade will square off in the inaugural game for both Arena Football League franchises that are both owned and operated by Monumental Sports & Entertainment.

Here at, we’ve been slammed trying to cover the absolute mess that is life inside Redskins Park. It’s like watching the Kardashians, Survivor, The Bachelor and WWE all at the same time.

I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted from the drama and just want football! Even though, it’s a different type of football than what see on fall weekends.

In case you are unaware of what’s about to happen, here’s a good primer for the Valor and then we’ll tackle the Brigade in a separate post.

The Valor were first to join and gain entry into the AFL and then the Brigade were given life by MSE.

The Valor’s head coach is Dean Cokinos, who has been working behind the scenes day and night to prepare for the inaugural season. We got to know Coach Cokinos here (part one) and here (part two) and here (part three) in our three-part exclusive interview last summer. 

Cokinos and the Valor, announced this week their first full coaching staff as training camp opened.

Benji McDowell, joins the Valor, in his second season as a coach in the AFL. Last year, he was the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Storm. He won an Arena Cup title as a player for the Alabama Vipers in 2008.

Joining McDowell and Cokinos is the Valor’s new player coordinator, Cos Dematteo, who  has coached with former AFL franchises in New Orleans and Georgia.

The Valor’s offensive coordinator will be Steve Thonn, who was most recently with the Cleveland Gladiators. He’s been a head coach with three different franchises.

The Valor’s head athletic trainer is Casey Carter and equipment manager is Shawn Cronin.

Team doctors are Jeffrey Mayer and Milford Marchant courtesy of MedStar Health.

Valor Logo

As for who you will see on the field starting on April 7 th, the team signed Tracy Belton, the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year for the AFL, while with the Philadelphia Soul.

Belton had 90 tackles, 20 passes broken up, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and NINE interceptions to lead the AFL. Belton also scored three defensive touchdowns.

“Belton is a pure football player and a fierce competitor,” said Dean Cokinos via a press release. “He is exactly the type of player that will help us build our brand in the D.C. area.”

The likely starting quarterback for the Valor will be the 2013 AFL MVP, Erik Meyer. He has NFL experience with the Bengals, Seahawks and Raiders.

Everett Dawkins was a big part of the Florida State foundation and highlights the roster along with veteran receiver TT Toliver, who is one of only four AFL players in the league’s history to have over one-thousand career receptions.

The Valor also has defensive back Cameron McGlenn and defensive lineman James McClinton, who has 12.5 AFL sacks in the last three seasons.

Younger players include DB Nick Addison, WR Julius Gregory and DL David Washington who join the Valor from Tampa Bay.

The Valor already had added first round pick, offensive lineman Moqut Ruffins and wide receiver Greg Carr who was the AFL Rookie of the Year in 2014.

Cokinos, via a press release added that “player personnel is vital as we identify and acquire players that we believe will be a good fit for the Valor and the AFL model.”

The Valor will host the Baltimore Brigade to start their franchise’s history and a new “Battle of the Beltway” rivalry on Friday April 7 th .

Washington then will hit the reset button and have a week two bye before returning to action on April 22 against the Philadelphia Soul at Verizon Center.

The Valor’s first road game comes six days later in Cleveland before another bye week.

Washington then plays the Tampa Bay Storm in back-to-back weeks in a home and home situation before closing out May and opening June with two home games in a row against Philadelphia and Cleveland.

The Valor then play four consecutive road games and will not be at Verizon Center after June 3 rd’s home game until Saturday July 22.

Washington closes out their inaugural regular season schedule in Baltimore on Friday August 4 th against the Brigade.

The Valor reported for training camp earlier this week at Athletic Performance Inc. in Gambrills, Maryland.

“Camp is all about competing and evaluating, installing and learning the arena game,” said head coach Dean Cokinos.

For more on the Valor and ticketing information, check out

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Sports Network ( & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN