The new Atlantic City Blackjacks likely found their starting quarterback Friday.
They announced that Arena Football League veteran Randy Hippeard, a former league MVP, had been assigned to the team.
“I want to make sure that Atlantic City Blackjacks fans understand the magnitude of this signing,” franchise Chief Operation Officer George Manias said in a statement. “This is a quarterback-driven league, and Randy is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. This is a game changer for the Blackjacks, and we are an immediate playoff contender with this signing.”
Hippeard, 33, was the league’s MVP in 2017 while playing for the now-defunct Tampa Bay Storm. He threw for 3,506 yards and 80 touchdowns that season while leading the Storm to ArenaBowl XXX, which they lost to the Philadelphia Soul.
The six-year AFL veteran spent last season with the Baltimore Brigade, for whom he passed for 2,901 yards and 61 touchdowns against five interceptions.
Blackjacks coach Ron James was Hippeard’s coach with the Storm during his MVP season in 2017.
“Having worked with him in 2017, I can attest to his work ethic and tireless devotion to his teammates,” James said in a statement. “His leadership will be an integral part of the Blackjacks inaugural season in the AFL.”
During his AFL career, Hippeard has thrown for 18,086 yards and 384 touchdowns and has rushed or 483 yards and 42 TDs.
He’s one of three quarterbacks on the Blackjacks’ roster, along with rookie Drew Powell and Lacey Township High School graduate Warren Smith. Smith, who was a backup for the AFL champion Washington Valor last season, is an assistant coach at Lacey.
“I just want to thank the ownership group for the opportunity to continue playing,” Hippeard said in a statement. “I’m excited to be back with coach James, and I’m looking to hitting the ground in Atlantic City and taking the first steps towards a Championship!”
Atlantic City will open its 12-game season April 27 at the Philadelphia Soul. The Blackjacks’ home opener at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall is May 4 against the six-team league’s other expansion franchise, the Columbus Destroyers.