Monday, March 11, 2013

Daily League News & Notes

Arena Football League
Fullback Armstrong Back in Arizona
The Arizona Rattlers have announced that fullback Odie Armstrong will return to the team after being assigned to a two year contract on Friday.
2013 will mark Armstrong's (6-1, 260, Northwest Oklahoma State) third season with the Rattlers. Last season Armstrong recorded 66 carries for 220 yards and 10 catches for 100 yards in 15 regular-season games. He tallied 17 touchdowns and also added eight tackles on the defensive side.
In 2011, Armstrong started in all 18 regular-season games putting together a record-setting season. He carried the ball 77 times, gaining 295 yards, a single-season Rattlers record. Armstrong added 17 TDs and averaged 16.4 rushing yards per game.
Armstrong led the AFL in rushing during the 2010 season with the Tulsa Talons, totaling 349 yards on 74 rushes. In 2008, as a member of the Orlando Predators, Armstrong was named to the AFL All-Rookie team.
VooDoo Training Camp Week 1 Comes to An End
The New Orleans VooDoo continued their training camp on Saturday morning at Tad Gormley Stadium, as the team held its eighth practice and fourth in full pads.
The practice was yet another opportunity for improvement on both sides of the ball, as the team looked to further develop its offensive and defensive attack. The VooDoo practiced in individual groups on today before coming together for an intra-squad scrimmage that pitted the offense against the defense. The team concentrated on short yardage situations and its red zone packages.
Here is what Coach Pat O'Hara had to say after practice about his team's ninth day of practice:
Coach O'Hara has cancelled practice for Sunday, March 10 in order to give the guys a day of rest. Practice will resume Monday, March 11 at 9 a.m. at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Storm Announce 28-Man Roster
With the first week of training camp over, the Storm has announced its first round of roster cuts. Per league rules the Storm roster has been cut down from a 35-man roster to a 28-man roster.
"Roster cuts are always a tough part of training camp," said Storm vice president Jeff Gooch. "Everyone has been working hard, and they are putting their best foot forward to make this team."
Here is the 28-man roster:
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Exp. DOB School
Barksdale, Rashad DB 6.0 210 2 5.11.84 Albany (NY)
Bass, Jamar OL 6.4 300 1 12.23.87 South Florida
Beamon, Rodney DL 6.2 285 R 5.23.87 Tennessee-Chattanooga
Bongarra, Juan K 6.3 190 2 2.4.86 Albany State
Boyd, Shane QB 6.1 220 1 9.18.82 Kentucky
Burgess, LeRoy DL 6.1 290 2 11.8.87 NC State
Chery, Jason WR 5.10 183 R 5.31.85 Louisiana-Lafayette
Crosby, Terence OL 6.2 315 2 12.10.86 Catawba (NC)
Cuff, Vance DB 5.10 178 0 11.14.88 Georgia
Davis, Chris C. WR 5.10 190 R 1.23.84 Florida State
Dix, De'Audra DB 5.10 180 R 3.3.84 John C. Smith (NC)
Dolce, John-Kevin DL/LB 6.2 255 1 7.22.88 Virginia
Ellingson, Greg WR 6.4 200 1 12.30.87 Florida International
Evans, Bryan DB 6.1 205 1 12.12.85 Georgia
Fanor, Jean DB 6.1 205 R 6.17.89 Bethune-Cookman
Griffin, Paul DL 6.0 290 3 10.12.85 Florida State
Hardy, James WR 6.5 220 R 12.24.84 Indiana
Hills, Joe WR 6.5 215 1 10.2.87 Tennessee State
Lindsey, Michael WR/KR 6.1 200 2 7.10.87 N.W. Mississippi
McCaskill, Nevin OL 6.4 315 R 12.29.83 Hampton
McCullough, Alfred OL 6.2 330 R 7.16.89 Alabama
McPherson, Adrian QB 6.3 227 3 2.19.83 Florida State
Morehead, James DL 6.6 320 R 11.3.86 Colorado State
Roberts, R.J. DL 6.4 255 R 8.24.89 Troy
Rutledge, Wondell OL/DL 6.2 325 1 1.11.84 Toledo
Serini, Brad C 6.3 315 1 8.12.89 Florida International
Smith, Chris DB 5.10 186 R 6.23.87 Northern Illinois
Watson, Thed OL 6.4 300 R 7.13.85 South Florida
The Storm reassigned WR Jesse Julmiste, DL Keith McCaskill, and DB Donald Smith. The team placed defensive linemen Tremaine Johnson, and Pernell Phillips on the PUP list.
Sharks Training Camp Report - March 9
The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks concluded the team's first week of training camp with a helmets-only practice at The Bolles School on Saturday morning.
Saturday's workout completed a stretch of eight consecutive days in which the Sharks held an on-field practice. After four full-contact practices in five days during the week, Saturday's shorter practice allowed players to get a head start on recovery. Despite the lack of contact, head coach Les Moss challenged his squad with a fast-paced team session.
With training camp more than halfway complete, Shark players and coaches have begun to get a good sense of the team's outlook. After Saturday's practice, veteran quarterback Bernard Morris expressed confidence in what the Sharks will bring to the table in 2013.
"The only thing we've really been battling is the cold weather in the mornings," Morris said. "Other than that, I think our team has really been gelling together. We've got a lot of good new guys that the fans are going to be really excited about... The Sharks are ready to roll."
After practice concluded with special teams work, Coach Moss again stressed the importance of rest and treatment in the nearly 48 hours before the team's next workout. Now operating with a 28-man active roster, down from the 35 allowed during the first week of camp, the Sharks will jump right back into full contact on Monday.
Roster Moves
On Saturday, the team announced that defensive lineman Delvin Johnson has been placed on Refused to Report. The Jacksonville roster now stands at the league maximum of 28 active players. Teams may carry 28 players until Saturday, March 16, when the roster must be reduced to the regular season maximum of 24 active players.
Player Spotlight
No player on the Jacksonville Sharks' roster has more NFL experience than defensive back Jamaal Fudge. A Jacksonville native who starred at Edward H. White High School and Clemson University, Fudge spent four seasons in the league, splitting his time between the Atlanta Falcons and his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars.
With some Canadian Football League experience under his belt as well, Fudge made his Arena Football League debut with the New Orleans VooDoo in 2012. Playing in six games with New Orleans during the latter part of the season, Fudge recorded 14.5 total tackles (13 solo) in his time with the VooDoo.
Speaking after Saturday's practice, Fudge talked about the challenges of making the transition from the outdoor game to Arena Football.
"It's been pretty good, it's a faster pace in the arena," Fudge said. "The hardest thing is just being boxed in a wall. That's probably the hardest thing, knowing where you are on the field at all times. The wall is undefeated."
Up Next
The Sharks will be off for the remainder of the weekend. The team returns to the field on Monday morning for a full-contact practice at Plantation Park. Monday's workout will begin at 8:30 a.m. and is open to the public.
Inter-Squad Practice at The Citrus Bowl
The Storm headed to the Florida Citrus Bowl to participate in an inter-squad practice with the Orlando Predators. With the adrenaline pumping, both teams looked sharp and ready for the start of the 2013 season.
The team headed out to Orlando with a 6:45 AM departure from Tampa. Neither team wasted any time as they immediately went to practice several drills. The highlight of the day saw both teams' offensive and defensive lines battling for supremacy. While the players are friendly outside the walls, they are ready for business once they step on the field.
"We have love for each other off the field," said first-year Storm defensive lineman LeRoy Burgess. "But when you strap on the pads, it is a different story."
At the end of the day, the coaching staff felt that today was beneficial to the players as it got them prepared for what's ahead.
"We did a good job out there," said Storm head coach Dave Ewart. "This was a sample of what you guys can expect on the road."
The day's practice ended with a live-session with both teams making plays on offense and defense.
Sunday Schedule Change: Training camp has been cancelled for Sunday, March 10. Training camp will continue Monday, March 11 at 9:00 AM out at Skyway Park.
Coaches' Perspective: On facing the Predators during today's live-session, Ewart said, "You guys did a good job out there today. You were a class act and professional."
Quote of the Day: On getting a small sample of the Tampa Bay-Orlando rivalry, Burgess said, "It was everything I thought it would be. We just try to keep our head and leave the rivalry on the field."
Player Spotlight: Defensive back De'Audra Dix comes to Tampa Bay for his first season in a Storm uniform. Dix spent three seasons (2009-2011) with the Montreal Alouettes (CFL) and was a key contributor to a team that won back-to-back Grey Cup Championships. He has been working hard this training camp looking to improve his skills. Dix' hard work has paid off as he intercepted a pass during today's live session.
Utah Blaze Reach Midway Point in Training Camp
An offseason filled with successful recruiting and major free agent acquisitions bred high expectations for the Utah Blaze entering 2013 training camp. Seven days into on-field practices, the team has yet to disappoint. The front office has assembled a roster that is loaded with "urgent athleticism," and the Blaze appear to have fielded the most talented team in franchise history.
The Blaze coaching staff took full advantage of its first two non-padded practice sessions, using the time as an opportunity to acclimate rookies to a new game and veterans to a new system. However, once the team suited up for full-padded practices, the players showed their true colors.
Utah's roster has adopted a highly competitive attitude throughout camp, displaying a newfound sense of confidence and a supremely aggressive playing style. Physicality has become a common trend during all periods of practice, as players engage in heated battles in hopes of earning a roster spot.
On offense, Utah unveiled a new array of weapons for quarterback Tommy Grady. The receiving corps has a noticeable size advantage compared to groups from past seasons, checking in at an average size of 6-3 and over 213 pounds. The added size has produced a collection of pass catchers capable of consistently getting off the jam and physically competing for any football.
On the other hand, catching passes during training camp hasn't always been the easiest of tasks. The secondary has taken on the tenacious personality of Defensive Coordinator Rob Keefe, consistently challenging the wide receivers every step of the way.
Some of the most intense training camp battles have taken place in the trenches, where the offensive and defensive lines routinely clash in close quarters. While each side has seen its share of success, the sheer size and strength of both units has provided many powerful collisions. In the midst of the melee, each group continues to make improvements under the guidance of Head Coach Ron James and assistant coach Ron McBride.
At the conclusion of the first week, the coaching staff continued to stress the importance of competition. The Utah Blaze is only halfway through training camp, and no player has made the roster. Difficult decisions lay ahead, but one thing is clear - the 24 players that emerge from the initial group of 35 will have earned their right to represent the orange and black.
Wide receiver Chase Deadder may be a rookie, but he's already displaying the savvy route running ability of a veteran. Blessed with outstanding size and strength, Deadder can physically compete for any football thrown in his direction. Deadder is picking up the offense at rapid pace and has a pair of Velcro-like hands. At this rate, he is poised to make a significant impact in his first AFL season.
Mac linebacker Joe Mortensen enjoyed success as a rookie in 2012 due to his natural ability, but was still transitioning from the outdoor game to Arena Football. However, the knowledge "Joemo" gained last season has paid significant dividends on the field. Mortensen has always shown outstanding intensity, but a greater understanding of the game has allowed him to play fast and ferocious. Mortensen has taken his pass rushing skills to new heights, using both speed and strength to overwhelm the opposition.
After a three-year career in the NFL, wide receiver Mario Urrutia is making a quick transition to Arena Football. Urrutia is already proving to be a legitimate threat inside the red zone, where he can use his 6-6 frame to his advantage. Urrutia has a sure set of hands and can reach almost any pass thrown in his direction. He's also making a quick adjustment to the angles of the indoor game, and is one of many newcomers to keep an eye on as training camp progresses.
Renard Williams has displayed outstanding pass rushing skills from the nose guard position. Throughout the first week of camp, he has shown he has the ability to get into the backfield and pressure the quarterback from the interior of the defensive front. Williams is blessed with explosive speed off the ball and can use his quickness to penetrate the offensive line. At the same time, the former college All-American has enough to strength to overwhelm centers with his bull rush.
"We're working towards winning a championship. We were close last year, but close doesn't count in any sport. All of our goals and aspirations revolve around winning a championship this season and we're going to continue to perform and push that way until the very end." - Head Coach Ron James
"If I had to sum up this group in one word, I'd say freakish. Physically, we're stronger than we've ever been before. We're faster than we've ever been before. We're explosive. We have defensive backs that can cover. We have defensive backs that can tackle. We have defensive ends that can speed rush and bull rush. From all facets of the game, we're pretty talented." - Mac Linebacker Joe Mortensen
Soul Roll into the Last Week of Camp
The 2012 American Conference Champion Philadelphia Soul, presented by Parx Casino, are closing in towards to the end of camp today as they continued their practice in preparation to the 2013 season. The players continue to display their abilities in hope of making the final roster.
The Soul closed out the week by conducting practice at the NovaCare Complex. As the players are coming together, one factor is standing out to the coaching staff: leadership. The leadership of their returning players during the training camp has impressed the coaching staff. The players are assisting one another in learning the playbook and understanding what to do on the field.
Tomorrow, the team continues training camp with practice. The players will continue to play their hardest to earn a roster spot because the last day of training camp and the last cut of training camp is Saturday, March 16. The Soul will also host a scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Power on the last day of camp.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: QB STEVEN GACHETTE (6'1", 195, Southwest Baptist): QB Steven Gachette joined the Philadelphia Soul after completing his first two seasons with the Kansas City Command. While at Southwest Baptist, Gachette broke multiple school records including career-passing yards, pass completions, and touchdowns.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "This is a real fun experience," said Philadelphia Soul assistant coach and former Philadelphia Eagle Hollis Thomas. "This is a really exciting experience and I'm excited to see the results. These players are giving everything they have and are competing at high level. The players put forth everything they have day in and day out. The rest of camp should be fun to watch."
THE DALLAS-MILWAUKEE STOP: Before arriving to Philadelphia, Tiger Jones (5'10", 195, Louisville) had made prior stops in both Dallas and Milwaukee. Since then, Jones has become a stellar wide receiver and a top weapon on the Soul's offense. Andrae Thurman (5'11", 180, Arizona), who joined the Soul during this offseason, has made the same stops in his career before arriving in Philadelphia.
Thurman finished out a strong, but shortened due to injury, 2012 season with the Milwaukee Mustangs. He finished the season with 72 catches, 1,026, and 24 touchdowns in 11 games. Coming to Philadelphia, Thurman has the opportunity to earn a position to make an impact and become a viable threat for the Soul's offense.
Philadelphia has made out successfully so far with receivers who played in Dallas and Milwaukee. If the trend continues, we could expect a huge season from Thurman.

Champions Professional Indoor Football League
Wild Dominate Defenders in CPIFL Debut
In the CPIFL's inaugural debut, the Wichita Wild (1-0) and Oklahoma Defenders (0-1) battled Saturday night in Tulsa for the first win of the season, resulting in a 70-26 victory for the Wild. Wichita played a near flawless game, committing only one penalty while intercepting one pass and forcing and recovering three fumbles. The Defenders struggled for most of the game against the Wild's speed and strength, led by quarterback Rocky Hinds' six passing touchdowns, running back Tywon Hubbard's three rushing touchdowns, and a disruptive defensive line. Wide receiver Joe Kassanavoid provided Hinds with a deep threat as he towered over the defensive backs of Oklahoma, wreaking havoc on deep routes all night while catching four passes for 124 yards and three touchdowns.
Wichita took an early 6-0 lead courtesy of a five yard touchdown run by Tywon Hubbard, but missed extra point attempt by kicker Alex Fambrough. The fine defensive performance for the Wild started on the Defenders' first drive of the game with Matt Moss shredding the Oklahoma offensive line to record his first sack of the game. After a completion, the Wild defensive line once again disrupted the Oklahoma backfield to force a three and out. On their second possession of the game, key runs by Hubbard got the Wild deep in Defenders territory with Hinds finishing off the drive by avoiding the Oklahoma pass rush on third down to find wide receiver Chris Hemphill with a fade pass to the back left corner of the end zone, pushing the score to 13-0 with 3:23 left in the first quarter. Oklahoma quarterback Rico Watkins would respond by finding Juan Redmon open in the back of the end zone, cutting Wichita's lead to 13-7 right before time expired in the first quarter.
The Wild would then roll off three unanswered touchdowns to take control of the game, starting with Hinds finding Kassanavoid for a 40 yard touchdown pass, pulling ahead 20-7 with 13:34 left in the second quarter. A couple possessions later, Kendrick Harper intercepted a Watkins pass and returned it 19 yards to the Oklahoma one yard line. Hinds cashed in on the interception, finding Hemphill once again with a fade pass to the left corner of the end zone. Fambrough would have his extra point blocked, leaving the Wild with a 26-7 lead with 4:48 left in the second quarter. Three minutes later, the Wild continued to fly high as Hinds connected with receiver Brian Murph for a nine yard touchdown pass to extend Wichita's advantage. Watkins would close out the scoring in the second quarter for the Defenders by tossing a deep touchdown pass to wide receiver Patrick Jones. With Wichita blocking the extra point, Oklahoma would only manage six points on the drive to trim the Wild lead to 33-13 with a little over a minute left in the second quarter. As the quarter was coming to a close, Hinds again found Kassanavoid deep for a 32 yard touchdown, allowing the Wild a 40-13 lead going into the half.
The Wild continued the momentum in the third quarter with Moss recovering a fumble, which set up Hubbard to punch in a two yard touchdown run, making the score 47-13. After Watkins threw his third touchdown of the game to cut down the Wild lead 47-20, Hubbard answered back with a 24 yard touchdown run, pushing the Wild lead to 53-20 by the end of the third quarter.
Wichita would continue their passing game in the fourth quarter with Hinds finding Kassanavoid for his third touchdown on the night with a 31 yard touchdown pass, to push the Wild advantage 60-20. With a bleak outlook for the Defenders, James Blevins secured a one handed touchdown pass from Watkins late in the quarter, but would not be able to convert on the extra point to finish the drive. Wichita would finish the game with the only field goal of the night and a Nick Hardesty touchdown pass to Jarell Kelley, locking in a 70-26 win over the Defenders.
The Wild continue on the road next week on Saturday, March 16th, to take on the Salina Bombers at 7:05 p.m. in the Bicentennial Center. The game can be heard on 1410 AM KGSO in the Wichita area or can be streamed live on The Wild will host their first home game of the season on March 23rd against the Kansas Koyotes at 7:05 p.m. in Hartman Arena.

Continental Indoor Football League
CIFL Suspends Kane County Dawgs Operations
The CIFL regrets to announce the official indefinite suspension of the Kane County Dawgs operations. To maintain the integrity of the 2013 CIFL regular season schedule the league has contacted and confirmed opponents for the impacted teams that were originally slated to host the Dawgs throughout the remainder of the season. The originally scheduled home games for Kane County will be cancelled.
Players and coaches of the suspended franchise have been released of any and all CIFL contracts and they will be allowed to sign with other CIFL teams effective immediately.
Further details regarding the CIFL will be made available in the upcoming days.

Indoor Football League
Danger Offense Has Big Night against Colorado
After relying on a big defensive effort last week to knock off Sioux Falls, the Nebraska Danger turned to their offense on Saturday night.
The Danger scored on their first 11 possessions against the Colorado Ice en route to a 73-50 win that gives them the early lead in the Intense Conference. Nebraska and Cedar Rapids are now the only undefeated teams remaining in the IFL after week four.
"You can't say enough about what our offense did tonight," Danger coach Mike Davis said. "They played well from the start. I don't know that I've ever had a game where we were as efficient offensively as we were tonight."
Nebraska quarterback Jameel Sewell picked apart the Ice defense all night, as the Danger set a franchise record with 370 yards of total offense. He was 18-for-25 through the air with six touchdowns, two each to Corey Surrency, Kayne Farquharson and Andre Piper-Jordan. He also ran for a touchdown, while carrying seven times for 47 yards. He threw for 226 yards.
"Jameel played a great game for us tonight," Davis said. "We knew our offense would take a little while to get going and I didn't envision getting a game like this early in the season. We've still got a long ways to go, but we'll take this effort."
The Danger scored on all seven offensive possessions in the first half and also got a 54-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Randy Bell. When it was all over, they set a franchise record for points in a half during while take a 53-37 lead at the break.
The early numbers popped off the stat sheet. The Danger averaged 10.5 yards per play in the first half, as quarterback Jameel Sewell accounted for six touchdowns. He threw for five scores - two each to Kayne Farquharson and Andre Piper-Jordan - and also ran for a touchdown.
Colorado led early, getting two Justin Helwege touchdowns in the first quarter for a 21-19 lead. But, the Danger turned the tide when Carl Gettis blocked an Aric Coleman field goal attempt on Colorado's next possession and Piper-Jordan later zipped in from 5-yards out to give the Danger a 25-21.
After the Ice answered with a Cordera Eason 14-yard touchdown reception for a 28-25, but Bell responded with the kickoff return which gave the Danger the lead for good.
Colorado quarterback Willie Copeland threw for 197 yards and six touchdowns, including four to wide receiver Justin Helwege. Helwege finished with seven catches for 94 yards. Linebacker Maurice Simpkins led the Danger defense with 13 tackles.
Nebraska will play their first road game next Friday at Tri-Cities (0-1), who lost to Colorado last week 42-38.
2 Danger Players Sign CFL Contracts
The Nebraska Danger has announced that two players, offensive lineman Tony Washington and running back C.J. Gable have signed contracts to play in the Canadian Football League. Both players played one game with the Danger.
Washington, who re-signed with the Toronto Argonauts, anchored the Danger line last week in a 30-21 win over two-time defending league champion Sioux Falls. He played collegiately at Abilene Christian and played on the Argonauts 2012 Grey Cup championship team. He signed a one-year deal with a second year option.
Gable, who played collegiately at Southern California, signed a two-year contract with the Hamilton Tigercats. He ran three times for 30 yards and a touchdown in the Danger opener against the Lincoln Haymakers.
"Ultimately, the goal of our franchise is to help players get to the next level," Danger coach Mike Davis said. "Tony and C.J. are two great guys, who we brought in but didn't think would last long here because of their talent level. We are really happy that the CFL has recognized their talent level and given them an opportunity."

Professional Indoor Football League
Steelhawks Fall in Opener on Last Play
The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (0-1) fell to the Alabama Hammers (1-0) in the final seconds of a hard fought game on their opening PIFL game in 2013.
The Steelhawks defense was in control early in the game recording three interceptions in the first quarter. DB David Castillo picked off Hammer QB Eakin on Alabama's first possession. DB John Kennedy got his own interception a few minutes later leading to a Steelhawk touchdown off a 46 yard catch and run from QB Adam Bednarik to WR Toriel Gibson. The defense wasn't done though as LB Brandon Rountree put additional points on the board for Lehigh Valley as he recorded another Steelhawk interception and returned it for a touchdown to take a 13-0 lead. With just under five minutes left in the first quarter, Alabama finally got on the board with their own touchdown. Steelhawks led at the end of the quarter 13-7.
The Hammers continued their comeback, scoring their second touchdown in a row to take a one point lead, 14-13. The score held there til a little over two minutes left in the half when Bednarik connected with WR Jeff Willis for a nine yard touchdown pass. Steelhawks led 19-14 at half time.
The Hammers were the first to strike again in the third quarter but a missed extra point kept it a one point game, 20-19 with the Hammers leading. That score would hold for the rest of the third quarter.
The back and forth action would continue in a thrilling fourth qurarter. The teams would trade field goals and turnovers until the final 26 seconds when the Steelhawks scored the go ahead touchdown, putting them up 28-23 off a 23 yard touchdown pass from Bednarik to Willis once again. In a heart breaking play, the Hammers used a hook and ladder play on fourth down with 4.2 seconds left on the clock to get into the endzone to win the game as time ran out, 29-28.
The Steelhawks return home for their home opener next Sunday, March 17th. The game is presented by Wilson Elser and PSDA Insurance and special Home Opener t-shirts will be given to the first 1,000 fans through the door. It is also Dollar Dog night, presented by Stabler Arena and Sodexo. Come out and spend St. Patrick's Day with the Steelhawks and then join them for their post game party at Roosevelt's 21st in Bethlehem.
Kickoff is slated for 4:00pm (EST). Steelhawk 2013 home games will be broadcast on Service Electric TV2 Sports.
Panthers Dominate Swashbucklers in the Season Opener 50-41
The back-to-back and defending Professional Indoor Football League champion Albany Panther's dominant road performance against the Louisiana Swashbucklers on Saturday, March 9th could not have been a more auspicious start to its 2013 season. The team jumped out to an early 14-0 lead with two touchdown runs from Derrick Winbush in the opening quarter and never looked back. Behind a strong defense and an unstoppable passing attack, the Panthers handily defeated the Bucs 51-40.
"It's just good to be back," said Demetrie McCray. "We started 2013 on the right foot."
The Panther defense set the tone on the opening drive from scrimmage, when defensive lineman Anton 'All Hail' Ceaser blocked an Ernesto Lacayo fieldgoal, Damian 'Nighthawk' Daniels recovered and returned the ball 19 yards to the Swashbucklers goal line. The turnover gave Albany's offense a short field for its first drive, which began at the Bucs 1-yard line. Two plays later, the Panthers took the lead when Derrick Winbush walked around the left end for a touchdown.
Following the opening touchdown, the Panthers defense forced another turnover on a missed fieldgoal, Once again, after several pass completions, Winbush plowed into the endzone for another score. Cecil Lester completed 26 of 39 of his passing attempts for 269 yards and five touchdowns that night. Two possessions later, Lester would add another touchdown to give the Panthers a 28-14 lead midway through the second quarter. Linebacker Larry Edwards had three tackles before leaving the game at halftime due to a knee injury. Fortunately for the Cats, the injury is not thought to be serious, and Edwards is expected to return to action shortly.
Despite failing to score in the first quarter, Bucs made the game interesting in the second quarter as a pair of touchdown passes by former Panther Chris Mitchell making it a 28-22 game heading into halftime. However, the result was never in doubt, as Albany resumed domination of the Bucs on both sides of the football. The Panthers defense would not give up much during the second half, as they held Bucs near scoreless yet again. Defensive back Cory Rue was a force in the third quarter with five of his team-leading 10 tackles during the frame.
The Panthers will make its first appearance at home this upcoming weekend, as the team looks to improve its record to 2-0 versus the Columbus Lions. Last season, Albany fell to the Lions on the road by a score of 58-56, a result the Cats are eager to avenge. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm on Saturday, March 16th at Phoebe Field at the Albany James H. Gray Civic Center.
Knoxville Nighthawks Unable to Win Road Opener for 2013
The Nighthawks opened their regular season Sunday afternoon in Columbus, Georgia against the Lions. The revamped Nighthawks and Head Coach Cos DeMatteo were hoping to get their 1st win Sunday against the Lions. Unfortunately Columbus prevailed 58-28.
The Nighthawks defense started off strong after keeping the Lions from scoring on the first series. Rookie quarterback from Josh McGregor went under center for the Nighthawks first series. The drive ended when Nighthawk's kicker, Alex Walls, had to kick it away. Columbus' Leroy Vann ran it back for a touchdown making it 7-0.
Knoxville answered back when wide receiver, Deandre Brown, scored the Nighthawks 1st touchdown of the season at the 6:30 mark. He also scored another touchdown with 45 seconds to go in the half, cutting the Columbus lead down to 14 points. Columbus went into the halftime leading 36-14.
The Nighthawks started the second half with a big drive on offense. McGregor made a couple of big plays with his legs. He finished the drive with a 2 yard touchdown run making the score 36-21. The Nighthawk defensive held Columbus on their next offensive series. Despite only being outscored in the second half 21-14, the Nighthawks could not catch up with the Lions on offense.
The Nighthawks defensive showed some very positive signs as they had 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, and one sack. That one sack was contributed by linebacker, Stanley Clark, who had a 5 solo tackles and one tackle for an 8 yard loss.
The Nighthawks started the game ten very talented rookies who had not played the indoor game before. They went up against a veteran Columbus team. Deandre Brown finished the game with 41 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns. Joseph Rico also contributed 10 receptions for 86 yards receiving. Johnny Thomas had two catches for 43 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Josh McGregor went 25-48 for 247 yards. He had two interceptions but ran for one touchdown and threw for 3 more.
"Despite the score there were some bright spots in the game. We will get back on the practice field and work on the areas we need to work on. It's time to put this game behind us and get ready for Lehigh Valley," said Coach DeMatteo.
Knoxville will be on the road again next week against the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, March 17th.

Ultimate Indoor Football League
Monsters Sign Former University of Kentucky Defensive Back Randall Burden
The Missouri Monsters professional indoor football team wasted no time making roster changes after a loss on opening night with the signing of defensive back/wide receiver Randall Burden.
Last year he signed with the Arizona Cardinals and attended their rookie mini-camp.
Burden was a three-year starter at cornerback for the University of Kentucky. During his career at UK he started 38 consecutive games. While there he had 6 interceptions, and 18 pass breakups.
"After Friday nights loss, we went right back to work to make sure that the next game we play has a better result. We have two goals as an organization, win games, and entertain fans. With the addition of Burden, and some of the other new players we plan to bring in this week, I am positive that our next game will have a much better result!" Said Missouri Monsters Owner Andrew Haines.
During the 2011 (senior) season he had 3 interceptions, with 41 total tackles. He was the primary punt returner for the Wildcats. His Junior season he led the team in pass breakups with six and recorded 36 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss, and an interception. 2009 was his sophomore season he finished with 36 tackles, two interceptions with one being returned for a 50-yard touchdown.
Burden played high school football at LaGrange (Ga.) High School.
The Monsters have a bye week, then travel to Dalton, GA to take on the Georgia Rampage on Monday March 25th. After the road trip, the team returns home to the Family Arena on Monday April 1st to face the Windy City Hitmen.

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