Shock prepare for second straight West Division matchup
The Spokane Shock (4-0) take on the San Jose SaberCats (2-1) for their second West Division matchup in a row on April 19th at the HP Pavillion in San Jose, CA. Kickoff is scheduled for Friday, April 19th at 7:30 PM PST and will be available on 700 AM ESPN Radio and for viewing online at shock.arenafootball.com/allaccess .
Last week, Spokane came home after a three game road trip to start off the season, they defeated the defending ArenaBowl Champions and West Division rival the Arizona Rattlers 66-49.
Once again Erik Meyer continued his league leading season throwing for 351 yards, 8 touchdowns and no interceptions. Meyer has 32 total touchdowns on the season with a passing efficiency of 135.9 and has yet to throw an interception.
Last Friday's game against Arizona was an offensive shootout with quarterbacks Meyer and Davila going touchdown for touchdown. The Shock defense came up with the first defensive stop of the game when they forced the Rattlers into a huge 4-and-out stop with 3:45 left in the fourth quarter. Adron Tennell and Karmar Jorden lead the Shock receivers on the season with 774 yards and 23 touchdowns, combining for 7 against the Rattlers.
Last season the Shock and SaberCats spilt the season series with both teams winning on the road. During the first meeting in Spokane, San Jose's quarterback Mark Grieb threw for 315 yards and 7 touchdowns while the SaberCats led for the entire game winning 69-35. In San Jose, the Shock came out looking for revenge and found it in a big way scoring 90 points led by quarterback Kyle Rowley's 12 touchdown passes (AFL single game record) and 392 yards.
"San Jose is a very good football team with a very good roster that is coming off the bye week which gave them a chance to get healthy and prepare."
Before their bye week, San Jose traveled to Arizona and fell 47-73. Veteran quarterback Aaron Garcia threw for 293 yards, 6 touchdowns but also had 3 costly interceptions while spreading the ball around nicely, throwing at least one touchdown pass to four different receivers.
"San Jose is a tough place to play and they'll be ready for us, but we're going to come out and play football the way we know how. We have a long way to go and we're going to keep our heads down and continue to work hard, it's a long season and even though we're 4-0, we are still looking to improve and get better every week the rest of the year."
Game Preview: Utah Blaze vs Chicago Rush
The Utah Blaze return to action this weekend as they host the Chicago Rush on Saturday, April 20 at 8:00 p.m. MT at EnergySolutions Arena. The matchup will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network as the "NET10 Wireless Arena Football Saturday" feature game of Week 5.
The Blaze (1-2) dropped a 77-65 decision to the Tampa Bay Storm during Week 3 and will be looking to get back on track following a bye week. Meanwhile, Chicago (2-2) is riding a two-game winning streak and evened its record after earning a 45-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Power in Week 4.
Reigning Arena Football League MVP Tommy Grady will face a familiar adversary in Chicago Rush quarterback Carson Coffman. Last season, Coffman served as the backup to Grady in Utah. After securing the starting role in Chicago, Coffman has passed for 816 yards with 18 touchdowns through four games in 2013.
Aside from Coffman, Chicago employs several players with ties to the Utah Blaze. Wide receiver Jared Jenkins was in camp with the Blaze this season and joined the Rush after being reassigned during final cuts. Defensive end Jacob Hardwick played for Utah as a rookie last season. Finally, linebacker Kelvin Morris started at Jack for the Blaze during the 2008 season.
With a full week of rest and recovery behind them, Utah will look to sure up the issues that plagued the team over its first three outings. "The two biggest areas we have to eliminate are penalties and turnovers and to be able to do both of those, you've got to be a little more disciplined," Head Coach Ron James stated during the bye week. "We've got to put ourselves in better positions, play smarter football and hone in on situations a lot better."
Grady will seek to improve the efficiency of the offense against a strong Chicago secondary. The Rush boast the Arena Football League's second-ranked passing defense, as the unit has surrendered 221.2 aerial yards per game while allowing just 48.5 points per contest. Chicago's defense is headlined by defensive back Jorrick Calvin, who notched 10 interceptions as a rookie a year ago and currently leads the team with 31.5 tackles.
Getting the passing game back to its usual standards will require Grady to find his top two targets early and often. Rookie wide receiver Mario Urrutia has quickly proven to be an explosive deep threat, delivering team-highs in every category with 21 receptions for 338 yards and nine touchdowns. Urrutia is currently tied for third in the AFL in scoring (18.0 ppg) and has posted the fifth-highest yards per catch average in the League (16.1). At the same time, veteran wideout Aaron LesuÃ© continues to acclimate to the offense after missing the first two games with injury. LesuÃ© was Grady's favorite target in 2012 and managed to snare seven passes for 103 yards and two scores in his first game back against Tampa Bay.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Blaze will be charged with the task of stopping fleet-footed wide receivers Reggie Gray and Rodney Wright. Gray has been the favorite receiver of Coffman through four games and currently leads the Rush with 31 catches for 378 yards and 10 scores. Wright isn't far behind on the stat line, registering 29 receptions for 351 yards and six touchdowns. Both receivers make up for their lack of size with speed and quickness.
Utah will rely on its pass rush to keep Coffman uncomfortable while the secondary looks to take advantage of errant throws. The front four is led by defensive end Caesar Rayford, who has contribute two sacks and three quarterback hurries this season. In the secondary, veteran David Hyland and rookie Maurice Leggett are tied for the team lead with two interceptions apiece.
CBS Sports Network is available in the Salt Lake City area on channels 269 (Comcast), 613 (DirecTV) and 158 (Dish Network). The Utah Blaze vs. Chicago Rush can also be heard on 97.5 FM with Scott Garrard and Riley Jensen calling all of the action!
SaberCats Announce Breast Cancer Awareness Night for May 11
"Partnering with the American Cancer Society to aid in the fight against cancer is something we are very passionate about," said SaberCats Managing Partner Dave Fry. "Last year we raised a substantial amount of funds for this significant cause."
Fans can participate by purchasing a special edition pink Arena Football League official game football signed by either the entire SaberCats team, or the entire SaberKittens squad for $125. 70% of these proceeds will go directly to the American Cancer Society to aid in the fight against cancer. Included with the football are eight tickets for the game. The deadline to guarantee yours is set for noon PT on Wednesday, May 8, or while supplies last.
"One-hundred years ago, the word 'cancer' was rarely spoken, and we lost almost all patients to the disease," said Tulin Melton, American Cancer Society Regional Vice President. "Today the progress we have made is remarkable. Partnering with the SaberCats gives us an opportunity to encourage people to join together, make noise and take action to finish the fight against cancer."
The special edition pink footballs will be available to be picked up at the game on May 11 at the SaberCats marketing table located near Section 117 of HP Pavilion. Fans can purchase this package by going to http://www.thesanjosesabercats.com/pink.php
Week 5 Preview: Sharks Host Barnstormers Friday
The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks will welcome the Iowa Barnstormers to Sea Best Field on Friday, April 19. Kickoff from Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena is set for 8:00 as the Sharks aim to improve to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. On Faith and Family Night, fans are asked to bring a donation of canned food that will be collected on behalf of Second Harvest North Florida.
Jacksonville (4-0) returns to the field one week after shutting down the New Orleans VooDoo to the tune of a 76-30 final last Friday night. The undefeated Sharks sit atop a South Division in which every other team has at least two losses, and the team stands a game and a half above the Philadelphia Soul in the American Conference.
In addition to their success this season, the Sharks bring a strong history in the head-to-head matchup against Iowa (2-2), as the team handled the Barnstormers in each of the two teams' previous matchups. In the teams' only meeting in 2012, the Sharks took a 31-7 halftime lead and cruised to a 55-19 win that was their second victory in as many tries against this week's opponent. Worth noting is that the Sharks have never played the Barnstormers on the road - both previous meetings were held on Sea Best Field.
The victory over New Orleans highlighted the Sharks' playmaking defense, a unit that has been a tremendous part of the team's 4-0 start. The Sharks forced four turnovers last week, including Terrance Smith's interception return for a touchdown on the final play of the first half. Entering this week, the Sharks rank tied for third in the league with a plus-six turnover margin.
Along with the turnovers, the Sharks' front four continued to dominate the opposition. The Sharks racked up another four sacks in Week 4 and now lead the league with 16 quarterback takedowns this season. Each of the Sharks' starting defensive linemen - Rashaad Duncan, Jerry Turner and Matt Marcorelle - has already recorded two or more sacks in a single game this year, while Mac linebacker Aaron Robbins leads the entire League with 5.0 tackles for loss.
What already is a major advantage for the Sharks is amplified by the fact that Iowa has given up more sacks (12) than all but one team in the league to this point in the year. One week after yielding six sacks against the Philadelphia Soul, the Iowa offensive line will need to be on point if it hopes to slow down the Jacksonville pass rush.
On the other side, this week's game features a matchup of strength against strength. The Shark offense has been on point to this point in the year, as the team has crossed the 60-point mark in every game this season. With that said, the Barnstormer defense has given up 55 or more points just once in 2013, a 66-43 loss to Spokane in Week 3.
Iowa brings a potent secondary to the field, as each of the team's starting defensive backs has recorded two interceptions this season. But Shark quarterback Bernard Morris has not found a defense that he couldn't pick apart. One of just two AFL quarterbacks without a turnover this season, Morris will look to extend his run of 24 total touchdowns without a turnover.
Two of Morris' top targets have streaks on the line as well. The reigning Playmaker of the Week, Jeff Hughley, has caught two touchdown passes in every game this season, while fellow wideout Markee White has found the end zone in each of the Sharks' first four contests.
An area of concern for Jacksonville can be found on special teams, where Barnstormer kick returner Jason Simpson has racked up an average of 22.4 yards per kickoff return without the benefit of a long touchdown. He will look to expose a Shark kickoff coverage unit that is working to improve on its No. 11 ranking among the League's 14 teams.
The Sharks and Barnstormers will square of at 8:00 on Friday. Though the game will not be televised, it is set to air live on AM 600 WBOB and online via the "AFL Live" player on arenafootball.com.
Indoor Football League
Colorado Ice Looking for Another Road Win
The Ice are on a winning streak of their own, claiming victory in their last four games including a big 32-12 win over the Nebraska Danger last week. The Ice had been passed by the Danger in the Week 9 IFL coaches poll in the days leading up to the game after having a week 8 bye, but a dominant effort by the Ice defense held the Danger to just one touchdown and no points in the second half.
One of the key players on the Ice defense has been Greg "The Hammer" Jackson (11). In addition to his ten tackles, Jackson had a forced fumble which he returned for a touchdown, giving the Ice a lead they would not surrender. For his efforts, Jackson was named the IFL defensive player of the week for week nine.
The Sioux Falls Storm made a move that sent shockwaves following a loss to the Ice in their previous meeting this season, resigning the previously retired Terrance Bryant to come back and play quarterback for the team. Bryant was the quarterback for the Storm from 2006-2010 and led the team to back to back undefeated seasons in the UIF. Since his return to the team, the Storm have gone 2-0, including last week's 56-43 win over the Tri-Cities Fever.
The Storm will be looking for their 27 th straight home win, a stretch that dates back to May 15, 2010 when they were beaten 43-37 by the Omaha Beef. The Ice will likely not be intimidated by the Storm however; as they have already beaten the two-time defending IFL champs this season. The Ice pulled out a close game in front of their home crowd back on March 27 th when they beat the Storm 37-33.
The Colorado Ice are proud members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). All home games are played on Majestic Roofing Field at the Budweiser Events Center located in Loveland, Colorado. 2013 Season Ticket information is available by contacting the Colorado Ice offices at (970) 472-0128 . For more information, please visit www.thecoloradoice.com.
Professional Indoor Football League
Game Preview: Alabama Comes to the Valley
In their second meeting of the season, the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (2-2) will look to rebound against a strong Alabama (4-1) football team. This time it will be the Hammers making the journey to the Lehigh Valley when they take on the Steelhawks this Saturday, April 20th at 7:00pm inside Stabler Arena. It is Youth Sports night this weekend and will feature the 2nd Annual Team X East Lehigh/ Steelhawks Spring Kickoff Classic Inter League Tournament (9-11 yr old) Championship Game during halftime of the Steelhawks game.
The Steelhawks will have a tough test this week after struggling last week in Richmond. They will be facing the current number one team in league. The Hammer's high powered offense is led by QB Russell Hill (955 yds, 26 tds). His favorite target on the year has been WR Mico McSwain (34 catches, 495 yds, 14 tds). The Steelhawk defense, led by LB Terence Thomas (13 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles) and DB Clarence Curry (12 tackles, 2 pass break ups), will need to contain the offense.
Lehigh Valley has their own dangerous offense that is led by QB Adam Bednarik (1019 yds, 17 tds on 72% completion rate). He has an arsenal of receivers that he can go to in any situation - WR Tom Gilson (33 catches, 262 yds, 5 tds), WR Jeff Willis (19 catches, 191 yds, 3 tds), WR Toriel Gibson (17 catches, 218 yds, 2 tds), WR Tyrone Collins (11 catches, 128 yds, 3 tds). Look for a potentially high scoring game as the league's top two scoring offenses (Alabama 1st, Steelhawks 2nd) take the field Saturday night.
Kickoff is slated for 7:05 (EST). The game will be viewable online. Steelhawk 2013 home games will be broadcast on Service Electric TV2 Sports.This is the first of a three game home stand for the Steelhawks. April 27th will be the next Steelhawk home game; they will take on the Richmond Raiders in a rematch of last week's game. It will be Honor Education Night at the Hawks Nest, presented by McCann School of Business.