Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Daily League News & Notes

Arena Football League
Shock Prepare For Second Of Three Game Road Stint
The Spokane Shock (1-0) take on the Chicago Rush (0-1) for the second game of their three game road trip. This will be the first National Conference matchup for each team this season after opening their seasons against non-conference opponents. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, March 31st at 1:00 PM PST and will be available for viewing online at and on 700AM ESPN Radio.
The Shock defeated the Cleveland Gladiators 67-41 on Sunday. In his first game back in over a calendar year after suffering a season ending injury in Spokane's opening home game of the 2012 season, the Shock's Erik Meyer put up impressive numbers (32-24, 284yds, 9 total TD) against the Cleveland Galdiators accounting for 54 of the Shock's 67 points. After having a record setting 2012 season, Adron Tennell picked up where he left off catching 4 TDs and rushing for another on Sunday. Shock rookie WR Kamar Jorden also made his presence felt, racking up 9 receptions for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Chicago Rush were defeated at home by the Iowa Barnstormers 41-63 in their 2013 season opener; this is the first time in the last five meetings Iowa has beaten Chicago. QB Carson Coffman threw for 217 yards, 6 TDs and 2 interceptions. Returning WR Reggie Gray had 7 receptions for 63 yards and 4 TDs.
The Shock will be looking to exploit the young QB play after former Rush QB Russ Michna ended his AFL career prior to the start of the season by retirement. Michna threw for 4,470 yards and 89 TDs last season, 9 of those TDs coming in one game against the Shock. Leading WR Reggie Gray will also be a defensive concern, Gray's veteran prowess has placed him at the top of the AFL over the last few seasons for his contributions as a wide receiver and special teams player. Last week, the Shock defense racked up four sacks and a fumble recovery in their 67-41 win over Cleveland all while holding the Gladiators to a mere 50% on third and fourth down conversions (including two four-and-out situations).
In their second consecutive road game the Shock will be trying to continue the momentum from last week's win. The Shock have one more road game before they return for their home opener against the 2012 AFL defending ArenaBowl champion and West Division Rivals, the Arizona Rattlers on April 12th, 2013.
Undefeated VooDoo To Host Undefeated Iowa Barnstormers
The Iowa Barnstormers (1-0) travel to New Orleans to take on the VooDoo (1-0) this Saturday night at the New Orleans Arena.
The Barnstormers, which is a name taken from stunt pilots who used to showcase their skills all over rural areas, and the VooDoo meet for the first time in their history and will look to build on their successes from last week.
Iowa quarterback J.J. Raternick was brilliant in the team's 63-41 victory over the Chicago Rush last Sunday. Raternick completed 22-30 passes for 257 yards and boasted a 138.47 passer rating. Raternick's seven touchdowns are good enough for a three-way tie for second place in the league with Arizona's Nick Davila and Jacksonville's Bernard Morris.
New Orleans quarterback Kurt Rocco will have to be more efficient passing the ball to be able to match up with Iowa's quarterback. Rocco completed only 18-40 passes for three touchdowns and threw an interception, but he made good throws in clutch situations including the game-winning touchdown in the VooDoo's 51-45 overtime victory against the Orlando Predators last Sunday. Rocco also did a good job of spreading the ball around more than Raternick, as five VooDoo receivers recorded receptions to the Barnstormers' three.
Both teams match up relatively even offensively. Iowa has only a slight advantage in yards of total offense with 259 to New Orleans' 231. Both teams were 6-6 in red zone scoring. New Orleans was a perfect 3-3 on fourth down conversions; Iowa had zero attempts on fourth down.
Defensively, Iowa will have their hands full as they go up against the league-leading tackler, VooDoo defensive back Demarcus Robinson, who has 11 tackles on the season. The VooDoo defensive unit also collected two interceptions - a pick-six by DB Efe Osawemwenze and a game-sealing pick in the overtime period from DB Eddie Moten. The Barnstormers also had two interceptions of their own, one from DB De'mon Glanton and one from Ter'ran Benton, so both quarterbacks will need to be alert to the opposing defense in this matchup.
New Orleans looks to start 2-0 for the first time since their inaugural season in 2004. Iowa last started 2-0 in 2009. This battle of undefeated teams will be broadcast live on the CBS Sports Network at 7:00 p.m. EDT.
Game Preview - Blaze vs Rattlers
It's been over eight months since Utah met Arizona in the National Conference Championship, but the Blaze finally have a shot at redemption this weekend as they take on the defending ArenaBowl champion Rattlers on Friday, March 29. The game can be seen locally in HD on KJZZ with Steve Brown, Kevin White and Tony Parks calling all the action. Kickoff from EnergySolutions Arena is scheduled for 7:30 PM MT.
The last time the two teams met, Utah appeared to be just moments away from securing its first ArenaBowl berth before a late touchdown by the Rattlers knocked the Blaze out of title contention. Although this week's matchup lacks the implications of the previous meeting, the outcome will ultimately play a significant role in crowning a champion in the ever-competitive West Division.
During the Arena Football League's opening weekend, the Utah Blaze took to the road for their 2013 debut and pummeled the Pittsburgh Power, 64-33. Meanwhile, the Rattlers defeated the Philadelphia Soul in a rematch of ArenaBowl XXV by a final score of 66-52. Both teams enter the game looking to get a leg up in the division with a 2-0 start.
In the victory over Pittsburgh, Utah showed off a revamped secondary unit that surrendered just 164 aerial yards while forcing three turnovers on downs. Defensive backs David Hyland and Maurice Leggett halted back-to-back drives in the third quarter with interceptions, while Jack linebacker Antwan Marsh returned a fumble three yards for a touchdown in the second frame.
That group will be tested this week as it takes on a Rattlers passing attack that features a decorated receiving corps. Over the past three seasons, Rod Windsor, Maurice Purify and Jared Perry have all earned the AFL's Rookie of the Year Award. Behind that trio sits Tysson Poots, who makes his return to Utah after posting 30 touchdown receptions for the Blaze in 2012.
Rather than focus on shutting down the receivers, the most effective means of stopping Arizona's passing attack may be disrupting Rattlers QB Nick Davila. Although Davila is one of the AFL's most prolific quarterbacks, Utah boasts a relentless group of pass rushers capable of controlling a game. Last week against the Power, defensive linemen Keenan Mace, Caesar Rayford and Mike Alston accounted for four sacks, three forced fumbles and five quarterback hurries. That group could be even stronger this week if Mac linebacker Joe Mortensen returns to the lineup.
By Blaze standards, Utah's passing performance against Pittsburgh seemed pedestrian as MVP quarterback Tommy Grady threw for 190 yards and five touchdowns - a far cry from his average of 326 yards and eight touchdowns a season ago. However, a closer look at the stat sheet reveals the reason for the low numbers. Utah routinely held excellent field position due to turnovers by the defense and electric kickoff returns by wide receiver Brandon Thompkins. In fact, the Blaze executed four scoring drives of 13 yards or less - three of which ended in rushing touchdowns.
Utah was without All-Arena wideout Aaron Lesué last week, but got a boost in the receiving corps from rookie wide receiver Mario Urrutia. Urrutia enjoyed a spectacular outing in his AFL debut, hauling in four touchdown receptions while leading all Blaze receivers with five catches for 76 yards. If Lesué is able return this week, the offense could once again begin to fire on all cylinders.
Defeating the Rattlers defense will begin in the trenches. Arizona's defensive line is composed of massive pocket pushers - all of whom weigh in at 290 pounds or greater - that prefer to use their strength rather than speed. In order to protect Tommy Grady, Utah's offensive front will have to match that strength this week by routinely stalemating defensive ends Cliff Dukes and Marcus Pittman, as well as nose guard Anttaj Hawthorne.
In the secondary, Arizona surrendered 323 yards through the air to the Philadelphia Soul in Week 1 - most in the Arena Football League. Tommy Grady combined to throw for 1,053 yards with 26 touchdowns in three matchups with the Rattlers in 2012; however, he also tossed seven interceptions. With Arizona's starting core of Arkeith Brown, Virgil Gray and Marquis Floyd returning, Grady has a good opportunity to move the football through the air, but will need to maintain efficiency.
Week 2 Preview: Sharks, Power Set for Friday Tilt
The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks head north for the middle leg of their season-opening three-game road trip this week, facing the Pittsburgh Power on Friday, March 29. Kickoff from CONSOL Energy Center is set for 7:00 p.m., and the game will air live on This TV Jacksonville and AM 600 WBOB as Jacksonville looks to open the season 2-0 for the first time in franchise history.
The Sharks (1-0) opened the 2013 season with a dramatic 64-55 divisional road win in last Saturday's season opener against the Tampa Bay Storm. Jacksonville trailed going into the game's final minute before quarterback Bernard Morris connected with receiver Jeff Hughley to put the Sharks in front by a point. Marco Capozzoli then hit a perfect onside kick that was recovered by Terrance Smith, leading to a 36-yard touchdown pass from Morris to Jeron Harvey on the very next play. After Morris' two-point conversion run, the Sharks took control with a two-score lead and held serve on defense to seal the win.
Morris began the season opener with 10 straight completions, eventually going 24-for-31 for 269 yards and seven touchdowns. He spread the ball effectively between three primary receivers, hitting Harvey for three touchdown passes while Hughley and Markee White each found paydirt twice.
On Friday, Morris and the Shark offense will face a Pittsburgh (0-1) squad that yielded 64 points - the exact total that Jacksonville scored in Week 1 - to the Utah Blaze in the Power's season opener. Despite the wide margin in Pittsburgh's 64-33 loss, the Power defense held reigning League MVP Tommy Grady in check, as Grady completed just over 50% of his passes (17-for-33).
Newcomer Sergio Gilliam made an immediate impact in his first game in a Power uniform, recording Pittsburgh's first interception of the season. Another new piece of the Power defense made an even bigger impact in Week 1, as Jack linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson wreaked havoc to the tune of six tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble.
On the flip side, the Shark defense will get its first look at former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who tossed five touchdowns against two picks in his AFL debut last week. With a pair of veteran targets in Mike Washington and P.J. Berry, Jefferson will attack a Shark secondary that allowed just two passing touchdowns against Tampa Bay.
Jacksonville's defensive backfield features a potent blend of size, playmaking ability and AFL experience. Against the Storm, the Sharks lined up with the 6-foot-2 Smith and the 6-foot-1 Tracy Belton flanking middleman Micheaux Robinson, who led the team with three pass breakups in Week 1. Counting Jack linebacker Bill Alford, the Shark secondary features four players who entered this season with a combined 12 years of service in the League.
In the trenches, Jacksonville enjoyed sustained pressure by its defensive line throughout the Week 1 win, but at times the unit was not able to finish off plays. At one point, Storm quarterback Adrian McPherson shrugged off a pair of hits and escaped for a highlight-reel 35-yard touchdown run. While Jerry Turner did log the Sharks' first sack of the season, the defensive line's most notable play actually came on special teams, as Matt Marcorelle blocked a Tampa Bay extra point in the game's final minute.
This week's game represents an opportunity for the Shark pass rush to build momentum, as Pittsburgh's offensive line yielded four sacks in the Power's season opener.
While the outcome of this Week 2 tilt is still to be determined, one thing is certain - Friday's game features a remarkable number of players who have seen both sides of this match-up. Morris (2011) and Shark defensive lineman Justin Parrish (2012) each spent a season with the Power, while Pittsburgh Kirby Griffin was a Shark mainstay at fullback from 2010-11 and offensive lineman Jason Thomas broke into the league with Jacksonville. In addition, former Shark receiver Shamar Graves was in training camp with the Power but is now on injured reserve.
Jacksonville will head to Pittsburgh on Thursday morning in advance of this week's matchup. The game will air live on this TV Jacksonville, one of the digital channels operated by Shark television affiliate WJXT. In addition, Director of Media Relations Zander Kean will have the call on AM 600 WBOB, the official radio home of the Jacksonville Sharks. A video webcast of Friday's game will also be available on via the "AFL Live" video player.

Champions Professional Indoor Football League
Haymakers Come Home To Take On The Bandits
The Lincoln Haymakers will open at home this Friday March29, in the New Victorian Suites Kickoff Classic. The Haymakers are coming off a 38-31 road win against the Mid-Missouri Outlaws, and are 1-0 for the season. They will be facing the Sioux City Bandits (2-0) with kick off at 7:05 p.m. at the Pershing Center in Downtown Lincoln. Over the course of the night the Haymakers will be celebrating Teammates night sponsored by Union Bank & Trust.
In the season opener, the Haymakers fought tough and had some notable performances in an overtime victory. Cortney Grixby recorded two interceptions and was named the Champions Professional Indoor Football League's Defensive Player of the Week. In overtime, Marlon Lucky hauled in a touchdown pass from quarterback A.J. Toscano to score the go ahead touchdown. During the catch Lucky hit the wall hard, and was shaken up. Lucky will be suited up and ready to go for Friday's game. The Haymaker's defense locked up the win on a fourth down stand when defensive lineman Kevin Cyrille knocked down the final pass attempt.
The Haymakers host the Sioux City Bandits who are coming off their 30th straight victory. They are lead on offense by quarterback Scotty Jensen, and face some adversity on the offense line. In their second game the Bandits were down two offensive lineman starters. The Haymakers hope to snap the Bandits' winning streak and record their second victory come Friday night in what should be an exciting matchup.
The Haymakers will look to Toscano, Lucky, among others to keep up the offensive attack from their first game. Ebelle Okakpu, a linebacker for the Haymakers, is an up and comer for fans to keep an eye out for on defense. Okakpu has impressed the coaches' recently, and is expected to be a solid defensive player on the Indoor Field.
Fans will get their first opportunity on March 29, to see the Haymakers take the field in their first ever home game.

Legends Football League
LFL Safety Enacts Quarterback Slide And Defenseless Receiver Rules For 2013
LFL Global officials have announced, as part of a new safety program called LFL Safety, the Quarterback Slide and Defenseless Receiver rules will be enacted for the 2013 seasons across LFL USA, Canada and Australia.
These new rules will enable quarterbacks to slide feet first to avoid being hit by defenders as well as protect receivers that are going up to catch a football and exposing their bodies to defenders. Any violation of either rule will result in a unnecessary roughness penalty on the field and possible game suspension by the league office.
The Quarterback Slide rule will not protect quarterbacks that are advancing the ball as a traditional runner.
“As part of the LFL Safety program, there are several measures that are currently under consideration. The Quarterback Slide and Defenseless Receiver rules will insure greater protection of our athletes. While football is a contact and sometimes brutal sport, there are measures we can take as a league, as coaches, and as players to sustain greater longevity and health among our athletes and our game,” said Mitchell S. Mortaza, Commissioner, Legends Football League, LLC.
LFL Global will soon be naming a committee of seven individuals that will oversee LFL Safety comprising of players and coaches representing all three global leagues.

Professional Indoor Football League
Two Steelhawks Earn Player of the Week Honors
In release made yesterday, the league office of the Professional Indoor Football League announced that Lehigh Valley Steelhawks Quarterback Adam Bednarik (West Virginia) and Placekicker George Pierson (Kansas State) were selected as the Week Three Offensive and Special Teams Players of the Week respectively for their efforts in the team's 44-22 victory over the Louisiana Swashbucklers.
Bednarik and Pierson were standouts for the Steelhawks in the team's road winning performance. Bednarik was 27 of 35 passing, for 287 yards and four touchdowns through the air to go along with a rushing touchdown, his third of the season.
Pierson hit two fields goals, the longest of which was 38 yards, and connected for four extra points and one UNO. In all, Pierson accounted for 11 Steelhawks points on the night.
The Steelhawks are off for the next two weeks and won't return home again until April 20th for Team X Eastern Lehigh Valley Youth Sports Night against the Alabama Hammers.

Ultimate Indoor Football League
Missouri Monsters Make Coaching Change
The Missouri Monsters have began making changes on Tuesday morning to the football operations at the Head Coaching position, with the firing of John Parker.  Martino Theus the team director of football operations has been named his replacement effective immediately.
“I’d like to thank Coach Parker for his contributions to the organization.  I felt in the best interest of the Missouri Monsters both short and long term that a change was needed.  We wish Coach Parker the best in his future endeavors.”  Said Monsters Owner Andrew Haines.
Theus played college football at Lambuth University and was 1st team all mid south conference in 1997, and 1st team honorable mention in 1998.
“Its a true blessing to be back coaching with a great organization that has a lot of talent.  I appreciate the opportunity, and will make sure we continue to improve as a team.  It is great to back working with Andrew, and between the two of us, the future is bright.”  Said Head Coach Martino Theus.
After college Theus played indoor and arena football from 2000 to 2006.  After playing he joined the Bossier –Shreveport Battle Wings in the af2 as their defensive backs coach.  In 2010 Theus was the defensive coordinator of the Battle Wings in the Arena Football League.
He served as Head Coach of the Mississipi Hound Dogs, and Marion Blue Racers as well.
The Monsters (0-2) return home to the Family Arena on Monday April 1st to face the Windy City Hitmen which is a non-league game.
Buck Night at the Family Arena
The Missouri Monsters will hold a college/high school night on Monday April 1st at the Family Arena. Any college or high school student with school id will be able to purchase a ticket for $1.00. In addition to the Student discount, the Monsters will be giving away rally towels to the first 2,000 fans at the game. The rally towel giveaway is sponsored by Winning Technologies.
Show your student id and its only $1.00 to enter, $1.00 for a hot dog, $1.00 for fries, $1.00 for a soda (inside the arena).
Join them for tailgating at 5pm! Food and drink available for purchase or bring your own! Be there by 5 and park for FREE!
Raiders Prepare for Tarpons
The Raiders are coming off of a tough loss to the Florida Tarpons but returning home to play in front of the home crowd. The final score of the game, 41-36, does not amount to the excitement of the game. The Raiders fought hard on the road but still were not able to get over the challenge of defeating the Tarpons. The Raiders trailed at halftime 28 to 16 but came out strong in the second half. A touchdown run from Bj Hall and later a touchdown pass to Roderick Jefferson and Jason Harmon had the Raiders trailing by 5 points with under one minute left in the game. Sam Smith had a big interception which gave the Raiders the ball back with 44 seconds left in the game. A false start started the drive and the drive ended with a scrambling Bj Hall interception to end the game for the Raiders. "It was a tough loss and hard fought but with the way we played and the mental mistakes we had, we still had a chance to win the game and we know we are a better team that played that night" said Coach Mink. That loss was the first for the 2013 season for the Raiders but it does not put them out of contention of the playoffs or even hosting the championship game. The Raiders just have to beat the Tarpons this weekend and continue to win the rest of their games.
The Raiders are also pleased to have 3-time pro bowl Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson doing the coin toss for the rematch! A product from the University Northern Colorado, Vincent (V.J.) was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 2nd round in the 2005 NFL Draft. Standing at 6'5 and weighing 240lbs, Vincent was a true specimen when entering the NFL and turn heads when he clocked a 4.46 40 yard dash for scouts. With his speed, size and strength, he has been one of the best receivers in the NFL since entering. Vincent then signed a free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. He was very impressive in his first season with the Buccaneers and set multiple Buccaneer records, with the longest reception in Tampa Bay history (95 yards) and the most receiving yards in a single game (216 yards). Vincent will also be giving thanks to all Raiders and Buccaneers fans at the Raiders game. He will be doing an autograph and meet and greet session for all fans from 6:15pm to 7:00pm ONLY. He will then be doing the coin toss and enjoying the Raiders game with his family and friends. The doors for the arena open at 6:00pm, get their early if you would like to have your picture taken with him or an autograph. "I am very grateful VJ is taking the time out of his busy schedule to come do the coin toss and watch our game. We definitely plan on putting on a great show for him, his family and friends" commented General Manager Feddy Azofeifa.
The Raiders kick-off is at 7:30pm on Saturday March 30th against the Florida Tarpons.

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