Sports

Local ties to Arena Bowl despite lack of arena football in South Florida

Former Deerfield Beach defensive back Jeremy Kellem, now of the AFL Arizona Rattlers, poses for a preseason photo in 2006.
Former Deerfield Beach defensive back Jeremy Kellem, now of the AFL Arizona Rattlers, poses for a preseason photo in 2006. Miami Herald file photo

The Philadelphia Soul and Arizona Rattlers will square off in ArenaBowl 29 on August 26 in Glendale, Arizona, and although South Florida doesn't have an arena team, that doesn't mean that title game doesn't have local ties.

Dolphins' wide receiver A.J. Cruz played for the Rattlers before making the jump from the Arena Football League to the NFL.

Cruz played two years in the AFL, mostly as defensive back and kick returner, before being signed by the Dolphins in February.

He says he checks the scores and keeps up with some of his old teammates and is excited when the Rattlers win but acknowledges, "I've got to keep my head here."

Jeremy Kellem, a defensive back for the Rattlers, played football at Deerfield Beach High.

Kellem intercepted a pass in the first round of the playoffs and did so again in the conference championship game, this time returning the pick for a touchdown. He was named the AFL defensive back of the year in 2015. He was an all-state and all-county player for the Bucks.

Richard Clebert, nose guard for the Soul, played football at Edison and played college football at USF.

Clebert won an ArenaBowl championship in 2010 with the Spokane Shock and in 2011 with the Jacksonville Sharks.

The Rattlers will be going for their fourth championship in five seasons and the Soul will be looking for their first championship since 2008.

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