You know what they say: Save the best for last—and boy did the XFL put emphasis on “best” and “last.”
Through two weeks of the season, seven games featured seven home openers for the league. One team however, remained conspicuously missing from the pack: the XFL’s golden goose, the St. Louis Battlehawks. Scheduled all the way back in Week 4, the Battlehawks will finally be able to play their long-awaited home opener against the Arlington Renegades on March 12, just three days away.
The reception of the Battlehawks has, to put it in the XFL’s own words, been “overwhelming.”
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Having been three years since the last football game at The Dome, St. Louis fans are eager to show up and are set to turn out in droves. To facilitate the demand for tickets, the 300 level of the stadium was gradually opened for fans with each set of sections selling out almost immediately after they were made available. As of right now, only sections 311-317 have significant numbers of seats remaining, though they’ll likely go quickly as the hours pass by.
The largest turnout through three weeks of the season was the San Antonio Brahmas’ home opener in Week 1, featuring an ear-deafening crowd of 24,000 fans. St. Louis is set to meet the mark of 30,000 fans and then blow it out of the water.
Seats will be packed, fans will be screaming their heads off, and The Dome is going to be rocking.
Squaring off against the Battlehawks this Sunday are the former Dallas, now Arlington Renegades. This will be the second time the teams have met, the first being the inaugural game for both franchises back in Week 1 of the 2020 XFL. Under the leadership of brothers Jonathan (former head coach) and Jay (former defensive coordinator) Hayes, the Battlehawks would ultimately prevail, winning by a score of 15-9.
Now the shoe is on the other foot, as both Jonathan and Jay Hayes have coaching positions on the Renegades as co-offensive and defensive coordinator respectively. Former Battlehawks offensive coordinator Chuck Long joins them too, and remarkably it doesn’t stop there.
Three former Battlehawks, Joe Powell, renowned for scoring the first kickoff return touchdown in league history—Taylor Russolino, who kicked the longest field goal in league history—and Marquette King, the league’s punting yards leader back in 2020 all find themselves donning the blue and red of the Arlington Renegades. Ironically, they’ll be seeing The Dome for the first time this season right alongside this year’s Battlehawks.
Despite them representing St. Louis for a mere five games, it would be nice to see a tribute of some sort as they make their homecoming.
The Renegades and Battlehawks both walk into Week 4 with a 2-1 record placed second in their respective divisions, but both teams arrived there in drastically different ways. While the Renegades would ultimately prevail against the Guardians in a grueling defensive struggle, the Battlehawks fell just short against the Defenders in a high-octane offensive bout.
Both sides have big question marks heading into Week 4.
The Renegades struggled to put points on the board in Week 2, inciting a change at quarterback from Drew Plitt to Kyle Sloter for Week 3. Sloter was one of the USFL’s premier quarterbacks back in 2022 and was even named to the All-USFL team before the league’s playoffs. Despite his success in a very similar spring league, the Renegades still looked lacking on offense, barely squeaking by a struggling Guardians squad. Whether there’s a fix for their problem has yet to be seen, but they’ll be facing a team with issues on the other side of the field.
While the Battlehawks offense looked electric, at least in the passing game, it nevertheless struggled to keep pace with the Defenders, having the lead for only six minutes in the entire game. Though it’s only been a real issue for one week, the Battlehawks defense was a liability in Week 3. To stay competitive for the North Division title, they’re going to need to turn it around—and fast. A 10-game season doesn’t leave much room for error, and any ground given up can prove fatal to championship aspirations.
Although this isn’t an absolute must-win for either team, whoever loses this game is going to forfeit some serious ground to their divisional leader, making this by far Week 4’s most impactful matchup. Combined with what’s set to be a record-setting crowd, this game is absolutely going to be must-watch football.
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