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Building a Brigade

March 18, 2017
The Baltimore Brigade are now under three weeks away from their first ever game as the Arena Football League’s newest franchise and one of two AFL expansion clubs for the 2017 season.

They’re also one of two organizations that are owned and operated by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, joining their expansion rivals, the Washington Valor.

That’s who they will open the season against in less than 21 days at Verizon Center in Washington on Friday April 7 th.

The Brigade launched significantly later than their D.C. counterparts but ultimately were able to put together what they need to field a competitive team in 2017.

The Brigade will play their home games at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore and are led by head coach Omarr Smith.

Smith has been a part of seven AFL championship teams as both a player and a coach in his arena football career.

Joining him on the inaugural Brigade staff is Walt Housman, Virgil Gray, James Roe and Scott Bailey.

Housman is Smith’s top lieutenant and was a part of the LA KISS most recently. He coordinated a defense for the Chicago Rush in 2006 that won an Arena Bowl championship.

Gray is the Brigade’s new special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach. He’s been a part of three Arena Bowl Championship teams.

Roe has been a part of three championship teams as well in San Jose but has local NFL ties with the Ravens, as he was a part of that organization for three years.

Bailey also was a member of the LA KISS and will help the Brigade in player personnel.

On the field, the Brigade expect to have Shane Carden as their quarterback, a former East Carolina product who impressed during his senior season and at the Senior Bowl.

Carden was the 2013 Conference USA MVP.  In 2014, Carden threw for over 4,700 yards.

“We are excited to have a player of Shane’s caliber on our team,” Smith said via a press release. “He put up jaw-dropping numbers in college and is a playmaker.”

Image result for shane carden

Carden was in Bears training camp a few years ago and has been playing professionally in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes.

On defense, the Brigade were assigned Alfonso Dennard, a for seventh-round pick of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

He won a Super Bowl title in 2015 under Bill Belichick and started 20 games for New England over a three-year span.

Travis Hawkins, a defensive back from Rockville, also joins the Brigade after the last few years in the Canadian Football League. Hawkins also at one point was signed by the Patriots. 

Marcus Harris is also on the Brigade’s opening roster, a veteran of five seasons in the NFL with Detroit and the New York Giants.

Harris racked up 94 receptions, 1,223 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns during 2013 with the Iowa Barnstormers in the AFL.

The Brigade also has another player with Ravens ties as defensive back Varmah Sonie, returns back to the charmed city.

Sonie had 86 tackles last year with the Orlando Predators and has also won All-Arena honors. His NFL experience also includes time with Cleveland and Tampa.

“It is important for us to build this roster with a good balance of veteran and rookie talent, Brigade Head Coach Omarr Smith said recently about his roster. “We like the fact that these players have come from successful programs either in college or in the NFL.”

The Brigade open up their first ever Arena Football League campaign with three straight road games, beginning with that first game for both MSE owned teams at Verizon Center on April 7 against the Valor.

From there, Baltimore goes to Cleveland and Philadelphia with a bye in between those two road games, before their home opener on Sunday May 7 against Tampa.

Somehow, the Brigade then play three-of-their-next-four on the road, making six road games to start out of their first eight games overall.

The good news? They finish with five of their final six games at home including games against the Valor on Friday June 23 and Friday August 4 to wrap up the regular season.

For more on the Brigade, please 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