2023 XFL Championship Game: Arlington Renegades VS D.C. Defenders

The XFL for all of its run of bad luck has finally struck gold as it awaits its first-ever Championship game of its second stint set to take place on May 13, 2023. As it is the first-ever Championship game for the XFL, there will be huge pressure and a ton of excitement in the air. When it's all said and done, one, between the Arlington Renegades and the D.C. Defenders will earn bragging rights as that team will go down in XFL’s history as the first Champion. The Championship game is set to be played at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

A brief overview of the Arlington Renegades and D.C. Defenders

The Arlington Renegades is a professional American football team based in the city of Arlington, Texas. In 2018, the team was initially established as the Dallas Renegades. The team plays its home games at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington. The Renegades are coached by Bob Stoops who is also the team’s general manager. The Renegades are placed in the XFL’s South Division. Their uniform colors are black, light blue and red.

The D.C. Defenders whose official name is actually the Defenders of Washington D.C. is a team based out in Washington D.C. This team was also established in 2018 and it plays its home games at Audi Field. In February 2019, the team hired Pep Hamilton as their first head coach and general manager. From April 2022 both of these roles are being overseen by Reggie Barlow. The D.C. Defenders are placed in the XFL’s North Division and as of now, they boast of the highest win percentage in the XFL with an 8-3 (.800) win-loss record. The uniform colors for the Defenders are red and white.

Arlington Renegades’ History in the XFL

In 2020, which was the XFL’s first season that got canceled mid-way due to Covid-19, Bob Stoops of the Dallas Renegades was the first head coach hired. The first player signed by the Dallas Renegades was Landry Jones. The team finished with a 2-3 record in 2020 before the season got canceled. In July 2022, it was confirmed that the Dallas Renegades would return to the XFL but this time with the name the Arlington Renegades.

D.C. Defender’s History in the XFL

The D.C. Defenders was also one of the 8 original XFL teams in 2020. After the signing of Pep Hamilton as the head coach, the Defenders signed former Ohio State Buckeyes Quarterback Cardale Jones as their first player. During the XFL’s first Draft day, the Defenders selected Wide Receiver Rashard Davis as the first overall pick. However, he never played for them. The Defenders ended their 2020 season with a 3-2 record. In April 2022, Reggie Barlow was hired as the new head coach and in July 2022, it was confirmed that the D.C. Defenders would return to the XFL.

Arlington Renegades’ Key Players

Some key players for the Renegades this season have been De’Veon Smith, Sal Cannella, and Joe Powell. De’Veon Smith has rushed for 365 yards with 18 yards being his longest run. Further, he has added 7 touchdowns also. Sal Cannella has been the dominant receiver for the Renegades catching 41 passes for 393 yards with his longest reception being 31 yards. The main contributor on the defensive side for Arlington has been Joe Powell who has 4 interceptions returned for a whopping 164 yards including one 90-yard return.

D.C. Defender’s Key Players

The D.C. Defenders have had many excellent contributions. That’s part of the reason why they have done so well leading up to the Championship game. Their Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu has completed 143 passes for 1,894 yards while his touchdown to interception ratio is 14 to 3. He has also rushed for 298 yards and 3 touchdowns. In Abram Smith, the Defenders have the best running back of the season with 778 yards including the longest run of 70 yards and 7 touchdowns. D’Eriq King has added another 5 rushing touchdowns and 102 rushing yards. Chris Blair and Lucky Jackson have combined for more than 60 receptions totalling 1,167 yards and 8 touchdowns. With 5.5 sacks, Davin Bellamy is tied for fourth place on the defensive side. Andre Mintze has added another 4.5 sacks for the Defenders.

Key Team Statistics

While the main statistics of the two teams seem to be heavily lopsided in D.C. Defenders favor, the fact of the matter is that the Renegades have proven themselves worthy of the final. The Arlington Renegades finished their 2023 regular season with a 4-6 losing record. It was still good enough to earn second place in the South Division. The Defenders took the league by storm and finished with a commanding 9-1 record to top the North Division. While the Renegades scored 146 points, they allowed 194 points for a -48 differential. The Defenders scored 298 points and allowed 240 points for a +58 differential. Other key passing and rushing stats are as per the tables below:

Passing Stats


Rushing Stats


Renegades vs. Defenders head-to-head

The Arlington Renegades and the D.C. Defenders have faced off just once till now. That game was played on 16 April 2023 in Washington, D.C. The Defenders took an early lead in the game and then held on to win by a margin of 28-26 despite a valiant comeback effort by the Renegades. Although most of the statistics favor the Renegades, the Defenders walked away with the victory and currently lead the H2H with a 1-0 scoreline.

Arlington Renegade’s Coaching Staff

The Renegades appointed Bob Stoops as their Head Coach in 2020. For the 2023 season, Stoops retained his position. He was a longtime Head Coach for the Oklahoma Sooners football team from 1999 till 2016. He held various assistant positions prior to his Sooners job and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2021. He has won one National Championship, ten Big 10 Championships and eight Big 12 South Division Championships. He is also a two-time Walter Camp Coach of the Year winner.

Jonathan Hayes and Chuck Long are the current Offensive Coordinators for the Renegades. Hayes was a former tight end in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was also a former tight-end coach with the Cincinnati Bengals. Long, who is the quarterbacks' coach as well, is a former quarterback for the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Rams. He has various experiences in coaching at the college level.

The Defensive Coordinators for the Renegades are Jay Hayes and Tim Lewis. There is not a lot of information regarding Jay Hayes, but he does have prior coaching experience with the Green Bay Packers. Lewis is a former cornerback who played for the Packers for 4 seasons before a neck injury cut his playing career short. He then was the Defensive Backs coach for various teams.

D.C. Defender’s Coaching Staff

The Defenders hired Reggie Barlow as their Head Coach for the 2023 season. Barlow, a former wide receiver, played 8 seasons in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Oakland Raiders. He was part of the Buccaneers' Super Bowl XXXVII win. Post his playing career, he has held a quarterbacks coach position for Alabama State and then the Head Coach position for Alabama State and Virginia State.

Fred Kaiss is the Offensive Coordinator for the Defenders. Although Kaiss did not play in the NFL, he has a vast amount of experience in coaching in High school and College football. He has coached quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and special teams in the past but the majority of his experience is as an offensive coordinator.

The Defensive Coordinator's responsibilities for the Defenders lie with Gregg Williams who has an immense amount of experience throughout the NFL. He has been the defensive coordinator for several NFL teams and has won Super Bowl XLIV with the New Orleans Saints as their defensive coordinator.

Arlington Renegades’ Fan Experience

The XFL is a fan-friendly event where the game generally seems to take second place behind all the fun and frolic going on. The fans get a chance to completely let loose and enjoy themselves with the pre-game events, post-game events and the game itself. The Renegades had held an open practice before the start of the season which allowed fans to attend their practice, enjoy the in-stadium experience, have food and beverages, grab some cool official merchandise, participate in live Q&A sessions with the coach and players as well as a post-practice autograph session.

D.C. Defender’s Fan Experience

The Defenders fans are considered as probably the best XFL fan base. The Defenders’ home games are a thrill to attend as they have a Fan Fest which opens 90 minutes before the kickoff. The Fan Fest consists of a live DJ, food trucks, giveaways, football tossing, photo opportunities and plenty of activities for kids. They also have some pre-game areas catering to food and drinks as well as post-game dining options. The Beer snake is a common theme prevailing in their home games, where fans enjoy beer and make a long snake of used beer glasses.

Championship Game Preview

While the overall records of both teams suggest that the D.C. Defenders will have a walk in the park, it is not a given. The Arlington Renegades started out well but lost their way as the season went on. However, they are known to fight till the very end. In order to have any chance of winning the final, the Renegades’ defense will have to have an outstanding game. The win in the playoffs against the Houston Roughnecks just goes to show that anything can happen in the game of football.

The Defenders’ story is completely different. They are an extremely strong team with an experienced Head Coach, a talented roster and big-impact players on both sides of the ball. They have shown on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. However, they will have to keep their consistency from the previous rounds if they are to cap off a tremendous season thus far.


Being the first Championship Game of the second stint, this game promises to deliver. There should be an electric atmosphere and fans will no doubt be all geared up to have a fun evening. Even though the Defenders are the runaway favorites to clinch the title, anything can happen. The Renegades’ confidence will be sky-high having already upset the Roughnecks in the playoffs. In short, we are set for one amazing finale to the 2023 XFL season.


Q. How many teams make up the XFL?

A. The XFL is composed of 8 teams divided into 2 groups, namely the North Division and the South Division. The North consists of DC Defenders, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis BattleHawks and the Vegas Vipers. The South consists of Arlington Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Orlando Guardians, and the San Antonio Brahmas.

Q. What does the XFL stand for?

A. When the XFL was first started in the early 2000s, Vince McMahon, the founder stated that it stands for Xtra Fun League. The XFL has many different rules than the NFL which makes it more entertaining for the fans.

Q. Which two teams are playing in the 2023 XFL Championship Game?

A. The Arlington Renegades and the D.C. Defenders will play in the XFL’s 2023 Championship Game.

Q. Who is the owner of the XFL?

A. XFL chairwoman Dany Garcia, actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and private investment firm RedBird Capital Partners purchased the XFL from its initial owner who was Vince McMahon for approximately $15 million in August 2020.

Q. How many games will the XFL teams play?

A. The 8 XFL teams will play 10 regular season games followed by 2 playoff games before the Championship game.