NAL MVP Warren G. Smith Jr.

 

The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks were formed in 2011 as an IFL expansion team. In 2013 they defected to a new league called the PIFL. While there, they encountered a young QB named Warren G. Smith Jr.. Smith had graduated from Maine and went undrafted by the NFL in the 2012. After that he was invited to play with The Dresden Monarchs in the German Football League. When his season concluded in Europe, he returned to the USA and latched on with the 2013 Richmond Raiders, an arena football team in the PIFL. That season he led the team to the championship game. While the Raiders lost to the Alabama Hammers, their total record of 8-6 included three victories over the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks. The Steelhawks are owned by Glenn Clark, and coached by Chris Thompson, who got a good look at the young signal caller. The following season Warren was signed to play with The Trenton Freedom. The Freedom were an expansion team in the PIFL, and they put together a roster and coaching staff strong enough to take them to the championship game. For the second time in as many years, Warren’s team lost. This time the winning team was Lehigh Valley, so Mr. Clark and Coach Thompson got yet another long

 look at the QB who was tearing up their league. What they and the fans saw in 2014, was the PIFL MVP. Warren completed 64% of his passes for more than 1800 yards and 32 TDs. Despite the loss in the championship game, the young man left an indelible impression on the Steelhawks brass. Once the season was over Warren returned to the AFL where he played for the Spokane Shock. He said, “In 2015, I went to Spokane and played a full season out there and learned a lot and enjoyed it. I got to start in like 7 or 8 games, which was really cool.”

After his experience at Spokane, Smith returned home. He said, “I took a teaching job at the end of 2015, and I played with the Philadelphia

Smith with Richmond Raiders Head Coach Fuller

Yellow Jackets, but they ended up closing their program halfway through the season.” After the school year ended he joined the Tampa Bay Storm. Warren said, “The Storm called me because one of their QBs went down, so I went to Tampa and finished the last four games of the season.” When that ended he went back to his teaching job. He said, “I teach Phys Ed, Health and CPR full-time, and I coach at the high school. I’m the Assistant Head Football Coach, and I coach basketball.” When asked if he would want to play in China, or with some other team in a distant spot he laughed and said, “I’m not going to go to China. I’ve got a good thing going on with my school, and I get to do football in the spring with Lehigh.”  

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With the Dresden Monarchs

After the PIFL folded in 2015, Lehigh Valley joined the AIF for a year, and then moved into the fledgling NAL for it’s first season. The team from Allentown, Pa. finally had the chance to sign Smith, and were rewarded with his best season yet. They finished 9-1, but lost in the playoffs. Having won their last seven regular-season games in a row, Smith said, “We did really well. We went to the playoffs and played a good Columbus team.” So what happened? “We were up 21-0,

but after halftime, we couldn’t stop them, and we didn’t score as much as we wanted to.” That game was probably the best game played all season by any teams in the NAL. Columbus had been with Lehigh Valley in the AIF and the PIFL but had never beaten them in Pennsylvania. With under a minute to go, Warren took The Steelhawks down the field for the score, but in the end his team lost. He continued, “They ended up coming back and beating us at the end with a Deuce. It was pretty unfortunate” Even though the season ended on a sour note for him, he had put up excellent numbers. In 10 games, he completed 169 of 256 passes for 1,953 yards, 56 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. To put that in perspective, he completed 66% of his passes, and every 3rd reception was for a TD. Those numbers and the team W/L record made him the easy choice for League MVP.  

Soon he will join the Washington Valor of the AFL to help them finish out their season. It’s been a tough year for the rookie franchise and maybe Warren’s experience is just what they need to end on a strong note. As for Lehigh Valley? He said, “More than likely I’ll be able to stick with Lehigh. We’re trying to get the core of the team to come back. We’ll try to make the most of it and hopefully this time we’ll finish it off with a championship.” Next year, the NAL will look very different. It is already known that Dayton, Georgia, and Corpus Christi are not returning. In their place, is an expansion franchise called the Jersey Flight who will play their home games in Trenton. After that, rumors abound. No matter what happens with league expansion, Warren G. Smith Jr. will be 28 years old before the start of next season, which means he is in the prime of his career. With two MVP awards behind him and playing for a very good team he seems poised on the verge of greatness