Comparing Waterdogs players to Philadelphia sports legends

By Wyatt Miller | Dec 12, 2023

The Waterdogs are officially Philadelphia’s newest team, and the city is rife with sports legends. From Rocky Balboa to Jason Kelce, the City of Brotherly Love has hosted some of the most iconic athletes of the last century. So, let’s have some fun with these city announcements. 

The Waterdogs are new in town, and many Philadelphians are unfamiliar with their play styles and personalities. To introduce Philly fans to the Waterdogs – and ‘Dogs fans to Philly – I’ve compared the entire roster to Philadelphia greats. 

Here’s how the ‘Dogs stack up with Philly’s finest:

A- Michael Sowers: Julius Erving (76ers)

The only person in Philadelphia who can match Dr. J’s hangtime is Michael Sowers. Dr. Jr’s famous up-and-under is slightly more iconic than Sowers’ patented crease dive, but to lacrosse fans, they’re in the same vein. Both can score at will with elite athleticism near the net and are the focal point of their respective offenses.

A - Kieran McArdle: Rocky Balboa (“Rocky” franchise)

Kieran McArdle is passionate and unapologetic. He’s a fierce competitor who’s been constantly underrated and always sticks up for his teammates. McArdle is a family man who loves to win, and finally got a taste of it in Philadelphia two years ago. Both Rocky and McArdle are icons in their respective sports and always have a chip on their shoulder.

A - Ethan Walker: Jalen Hurts (Eagles)

My roommate recently told me that Jalen Hurts talks in Instagram captions, so that’s how I’ll describe the connection between these two clutch playmakers:

“Real G’s move in silence like lasagna” - Lil Wayne.

M - Connor Kelly: Mike Schmidt (Phillies)

These are the big-play guys. Mike Schmidt led Major League Baseball in home runs eight times during his 18-year career. Connor Kelly led the league in 2-bombs the last two seasons and is one of the best shooters in the game. These two make big-time plays with a straight face and sound mechanics.

M - Jack Hannah: Allen Iverson (76ers)

Jack Hannah’s got style and handles for days, just like AI. They’re both creative, volume shooters with tons of talent and a loose presence. Plus, Hannah actually DOES practice. Apart from that difference, it’s a natural comparison.

M - Ryan Conrad: Roy Halladay (Phillies)

Clutch performers. Ryan Conrad led UVA to a national championship in 2019 and came up huge for the Waterdogs during their championship run in 2022, scoring nine points in three playoff games. Likewise, Roy Halladay had a 2.37 playoff ERA and threw a no-hitter for Philadelphia during his first postseason start. These guys are as clutch as it gets.

M - Zach Currier: Bryce Harper (Phillies)

These guys can do it all. Zach Currier takes the faceoff, locks down opposing midfielders and facilitates the Waterdogs’ offense with unique ball handling. Likewise, Bryce Harper can hit any pitch out of the yard, to any part of the field, and switched from outfield to first base this season with no prior experience and very few hiccups. They both show up in the big moments and are a calming presence for their respective squads.

M - Jake Carraway: AJ Brown (Eagles)

If you need a deep ball, dial up a play for these guys. In his first season for the Waterdogs, Jake Carraway stepped up bigtime in a new midfield position, hitting three 2-pointers. Similarly, Brown is one of the best big-play receivers in the game. Carraway’s would-be walkoff 2 to win the championship was barely swatted away, but he’s definitely cool under pressure. His teammates trust him, and Carraway had to earn that trust after escaping a tough situation. Sound familiar?

SSDM - Christian Scarpello: Mark Howe (Flyers)

I’m not too versed in hockey, but I’ll give this a shot. These guys do all the dirty work on defense. In his 10 seasons playing for the Flyers, Mark Howe became one of the best two-way defensemen in hockey – he hit hard and his presence always made a positive impact, leading the league in +/- in 1986. That’s how I’d describe Christian Scarpello. He’s a physical presence who’s active in the offensive screen game and keeps the team loose in the locker room.

SSDM - Jake Higgins: Ryan Howard (Phillies)

He may not play much offense, but Jake Higgins is a big hitter. For proof, look no further than this “welcome to the league” moment he laid on rookie behemoth Sam Handley. The 6-foot-5 midfielder felt Higgins’ power on that play, just as Philly felt Ryan Howard’s pop for a generation.

SSDM - Matt Whitcher: Jordan Mailata (Eagles)

Matt Whitcher came from Division III York College, but has made a significant name for himself through five PLL seasons. Meanwhile, Jordan Mailata didn’t even play football most of his life. Mailata’s rugby background led the Eagles to take a flier on him in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Both players exploded onto the scene and made waves at positions that are prone to being overlooked, as Whitcher’s aggressive offensive success has brought him into the spotlight.

SSDM - Charlie Hayes: Chase Utley (Phillies)

These two are the crafty playmakers who pack a surprising punch on offense. Playing 13 years for the Phillies, Utley won four Silver Sluggers and was the everyday second baseman for a generation of fans. He was a reliable defender, just like Hayes, who uses quick footwork and surprising power to contain all types of attackers. He also has an offensive presence in transition, scoring four points and contributing to the screen game last season.

D - Ben Randall: Brian Dawkins (Eagles)

Ben Randall is not barking mad like Dawkins, but the lockdown defense is there. Randall’s physicality and intelligence force even the best opponents to abandon their gameplan, just like people avoided Dawkins’ side of the field on Sundays. Dawkins is known for his outward ferocity, and Randall definitely has that drive, but you’d never know it from his temperament in-game.

D - Eli Gobrecht: Jason Kelce (Eagles)

Off the field, Eli Gobrecht is all laughs and hilarious tweets, but once he’s on the field, he dominates. Both these guys were severely underrated, as Gobrecht comes from D-III Ithaca and Kelce was a sixth-round draft pick. Gobrecht took the most faceoffs this season for the Waterdogs as a defenseman, and dominated with a unique strategy. Just like Kelce and the Eagles’ “Tush Push,” Gobrecht enables the Waterdogs to have unprecedented success in a specific context.

D - Liam Byrnes: Moses Malone (76ers)

Moses Malone led the league in rebounds six times during his 22-year NBA career. He dominated, winning a championship along with three MVPs, and did it without saying a word. Liam Byrnes is in that same category of silent defensive assassins, winning DPOY in 2019. He directs the defense with haste, but Byrnes is a very mellow locker room presence, just like Malone was for those ‘80s Sixers teams.

G - Dillon Ward: Joel Embiid (76ers)

These are the big men who dominate the circle down low. The 6-foot-5 Ward doesn’t stand quite as tall as seven-foot Joel Embiid, but his head rests high above the crossbar. Ward is a unique player, utilizing a high arc and distinct save style to stay unpredictable against the best shooters in the world. He’s 32 years old but is still at the top of his game, and is a new father, just like Embiid. Their silly sides shine through off the court/field, but they’re both defensive beasts and staples of their respective franchises.