PHILADELPHIA — Former Westmar High School and West Virginia University standout Wes Ours says he isn’t looking for a lot of credit. But the blocking from him and the three Philadelphia Soul offensive lineman was a major key in the team winning its first Arena Football League championship.

Philadelphia used some big defensive stops to build a 19-point lead and held on to defeat the defending champion San Jose SaberCats, 59-56, in ArenaBowl XXII last Sunday in the New Orleans Arena. The Soul finished with an overall 19-3 record after entering the playoffs top seeded with a regular-season mark of 13-3 as the Northern Division champions

Ours started all 19 games and two scrimmages at fullback and helped the Soul lead the league in offense and scoring. In the ArenaBowl, the blocking of the 1995 Cumberland Times-News Player of the Year and the three offensive linemen gave quarterback Matt D’Orazio time to compete 26 of 43 passes for 302 yards and seven touchdowns. He was sacked only twice.

“It was a very nerve-racking and physical game and San Jose has a great football team,” said Ours. “To be the last team standing as the best team in all of Arena football is special. This was our goal at the beginning of the season and when we started out 9-0 we began to believe more each week that we had a chance of reaching it. Winning it all was a great feeling.”

Ours, who has been with the Soul for four of the team’s five seasons, pointed out that the biggest key to winning the championship was bringing in players like D’Orazio, who was honored as the AFL’s top quarterback, wide receiver Chris Jackson, the league’s offensive player of the year.

Jackson caught 11 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns in the ArenaBowl and was named the Offensive Player of the Game. During the regular season he had 140 receptions for 1,719 yards and 49 touchdowns.

D’Orazio, who led the Chicago Rush to the 2006 ArenaBowl championship, started the season as a backup to Tony Graziano and became the starter in the fourth game when the veteran Soul quarterback went down with an injury. He completed 301 of 416 passes during the regular season for 3,331 yards and 72 touchdowns.

“The coaches and front office did a great job of putting in the pieces we didn’t have in the past,” said Ours. “I was a teammate of Chris Jackson on the Los Angeles Avengers and was glad to see him come here. He is a great receiver.”

In pass-happy Arena football that is played on a 50-yard field, the main role of the fullback is to protect the quarterback. Helping Ours with that protection up front on the three-man line were center Mike Mabry, a three-year starter from Central Florida; right side Phil Bogel from New Haven (Conn.) University, and left side Martin Bibla from Miami. They were dubbed “The Fantastic Four” by the Soul coaches.

“It was an unbelievable year and Wes was a huge reason we had success,” said Soul head coach Bret Munsey. “Our fullback is really a lineman in pass protection and I feel we had the best pass protection in the league. Wes is a great blocker and we can use him as a runner in certain situations. He also has great hands for receptions and we threw to him more this year.”

After leading Philadelphia in rushing the previous two years, the Wes Express was third on the team this year with 80 yards on 23 carries and ran for three touchdowns during the regular season. In the ArenaBowl he fumbled the ball on his only carry, but the play was nullified by a San Jose penalty.

While regarded as one of the best blocking fullbacks in the league, Ours didn’t have the statistics to be considered for All-AFL honors.

“I know my role and each place I have been it has been blocking,” said the former West Virginia lineman and fullback. “We don’t look for credit. We just work hard and go out and do our job. I have confidence in the blocking and the coaches were happy with the way In blocked.”

As the blocking fullback Ours says he takes a pounding every game.

“I play in one of highest collisions on the field and I felt great about the way I handled the punishment as the starter in all 19 games and two scrimmages,” said the Soul fullback. “San Jose had a very physical team and I was still sore two days after game. But my job is too keep the quarterback from getting sore and I feel good when we do that.”

Ours, who was the biggest college fullback in the country in his senior year at West Virginia, is listed on the Soul roster at 6-foot-1, 300 pounds. When asked how much he really weighs, the wide-body fullback said he didn’t want to discuss it.

Ours thinks he has found his niche in Arena football after short stays in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. He played in two regular-season games with the Titans and one with the Colts.

“I really like Arena football and it is a good fit for me,” said Ours. “I thought I played well this year and plan to keep playing.”

Munsey said the Soul are currently in the process of re-signing Ours. “Wes is a great player and great person,” said Munsey. “He is a lot of fun and brings that to the football team.”

Ours resides in Keyser, W.Va., with his wife Alycia and sons Brady, 8, and Dylan, 3.

The AFL season that runs from February through July will allow Ours to once again coach Brady and the Keyser Mini-Tornado in the local Pee Wee Football League.

“I just love working with the little kids and it is a lot of fun,” said the former Area Player of the Year.

Contact Steve Luse at sluse@times-news.com.

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