In what was maybe their first true test, considering the opponent and the stakes, the Albany Empire passed with flying colors. With first place on the line and the 5-1 Baltimore Brigade in town, the Empire held the number one ranked offense down enough for a 61-53 win on Saturday night. Albany and Baltimore now have identical 5-2 records, but with the first tiebreak of aggregate scoring, the Empire hold first place by +5 over the Brigade.

Not only does Albany have the top ranked defense in the Arena League, it has as dangerous of a receiving corps as any. In that showdown and shootout this past weekend, Joe Hills and Malachi Jones caught 3 TDs apiece. The Capital Region continues to take notice of this immediate success by a first-year franchise. More than 8,000 people were at the Times Union Center Saturday night. All four of the home games have drawn 8,000-plus including the opener which topped 13,000 and the game that followed that with more than 10,000 fans.

Head coach Rob Keefe has a new challenge for his players now that they've achieved first place; resist complacency and stay hungry and, better yet, greedy. Keefe joined Big Board Sports Monday morning: