Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Daily League News & Notes

Arena Football League
Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens to Conduct Ceremonial Coin Toss Prior to 'Rush against Violence' April 14th
The Chicago Rush are proud to announce that they will be hosting "Rush Against Violence" on Sunday, April 14th against the Pittsburgh Power. They will pair up with local youth groups, teams, churches and area police stations to help bring more awareness to the ever-increasing issue of violence in the Chicagoland area. In addition, the team will donate one dollar of every ticket sold to Chicagoland after-school and summer programs.
"As a community member, one of our main responsibilities is to give back to those around us," Owner David Staral said. "It hurts to see the youth of Chicagoland suffering, and we cannot just sit back and watch it happen without trying to help in any way possible." The Rush, who were a part of anti-violence events at schools in the Auburn-Gresham and Logan Square neighborhoods last season, intend on providing a safe haven and education for those who have to deal with the ever-present issue of violence. They are once again making appearances at Chicagoland events this season to do their part in helping out neighboring communities.
Kickoff is slated for 3:00 at the Allstate Arena on Sunday, April 14th. Immediately prior to the action, Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens will be conducting the ceremonial coin toss. On the field, the Rush will be returning home from a trip to San Antonio to host the Pittsburgh Power for the first time in franchise history.
McPherson, Turner and Jackson Earn Weekly Awards
Tampa Bay Storm QB ADRIAN McPHERSON has been awarded Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Week, while Jacksonville Sharks DL JERRY TURNER has been named the Riddell Defensive Player of the Week and Orlando Predators WR AMARRI JACKSON has been named J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Week for Week 2 of the 2013 NET10 Wireless Arena Football League season. In addition to these awards, the AFL is also awarding the Cutters Catch of the Week and AFL Highlight of the Week. Tampa Bay Storm WR JOE HILLS earned the Cutters Catch of the Week, while San Jose SaberCats DB CLEVAN THOMAS was awarded the AFL Highlight of the Week.
McPherson (6-4, 225, Florida State) accounted for all ten of the Storm's touchdowns in their 69-47 victory over the Cleveland Gladiators in Week 2. McPherson completed 25-of-38 passes for 362 yards and eight touchdowns, finishing the evening with a 136.2 quarterback rating. He also rushed three times for 31 yards and a pair of scores.
Turner (6-3, 265, Tennessee Tech) tallied 4.5 tackles to go along with three sacks in Jacksonville's 61-35 win over the Pittsburgh Power in Week 2. On his second sack of the night, Turner forced a fumble that he recovered to allow the Sharks to take over at the Power's one-yard line.
Jackson (6-5, 225, South Florida) began his 2013 campaign in midseason form, posting 12 receptions for 209 yards and five touchdowns in Orlando's 65-62 loss to San Jose in Week 2. Three of his touchdowns came in the second half, and he was targeted an astounding 24 times overall. He will be awarded a timepiece crafted by J. Lewis Small for his efforts.
Hills (6-4, 210, Tennessee State) snared a touchdown pass from Adrian McPherson as he approached the boards lining the right side of the end zone. As he secured the football, he flipped over the wall, bounced right up, and completed a partial victory lap in the stands. Hills will receive a Cutters hat and shirt in recognition of the catch.
Thomas (5-10, 195, Florida State) secured San Jose's 65-62 victory over Orlando in Week 2 with an interception in the end zone. With 27 seconds remaining, the Predators commenced their final drive at their own 15-yard line, rapidly advancing to the SaberCats' two-yard line with four seconds remaining. On third-and-goal, Thomas grabbed his third interception of the game to catapult San Jose into a first-place tie in the West Division.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Week candidates included : Arizona's Nick Davila, Iowa's J.J. Raterink, Jacksonville's Bernard Morris, Orlando's Amarri Jackson, Spokane's Erik Meyer and Tampa Bay's Joe Hills.
Riddell Defensive Player of the Week candidates included : Arizona's Virgil Gray, Iowa's Erick McIntosh, San Jose's Clevan Thomas, Spokane's Paul Stephens and Tampa Bay's Chris Smith.
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Week candidates included : Arizona's Tysson Poots, Chicago's Reggie Gray, Cleveland's Derik Steiner, Iowa's Jason Simpson and Pittsburgh's PJ Berry.
The Arena Football League is also awarding the AFL MVP of the Week, where fans are given the opportunity to select the winner. Candidates include Arizona Rattlers QB NICK DAVILA, Jacksonville Sharks QB BERNARD MORRIS and Tampa Bay Storm QB ADRIAN McPHERSON. Fans will have 24 hours to vote on beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 3. The winner will be announced on Thursday, April 4.
Rush hope to get on winning track against divisional rivals
The Rush (0-2) head to San Antonio (0-1) for their first road game of the 2013 season this Friday at 7:30 pm. Coming off a second consecutive loss at Allstate Arena, the Rush look to bounce back from their first 0-2 start since 2006.
The Rush fell to the Spokane Shock this past Sunday, 76-61. Defense was the name of the game once again and the Rush could not take the Shock offense off the field, as Spokane scored on every possession of the game. So far on the season, the Shock have scored on all of their 21 drives.
Meeting up with the Talons may be the matchup the Rush desperately need to turn the beginning of the season around. The Rush defense faced off against Talons quarterback John Dutton in the final game of 2012 in Cleveland. Dutton completed just nine of twenty passes for 137 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions before getting pulled. In just one week so far this season, Dutton has thrown two interceptions. He replaces future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Garcia, who has moved on to the San Jose SaberCats.
San Antonio had a bye week following a heartbreaking loss to the SaberCats in week one. The Talons took a five point lead with 52 seconds remaining in the game, but could not hold on, falling 47-42. San Antonio finished the game with three interceptions and two sacks; their defense looks to continue its playmaking abilities from 2012 when they finished second league-wide in sacks.
Defensively, third and fourth down has become an issue for the Rush defensive unit. Last week, the momentum was close to turning Chicago's way, as the Shock had a fourth down with 15 yards to go late in the game. However, Spokane quarterback Erik Meyer was able to turn it into a touchdown despite the pocket collapsing around him. Iowa was five for seven on third down opportunities in week one.
The other side of the ball may be the biggest step up for the Rush in week three. The first two weeks have seen improvement across the board for the offense, including a twenty point increase from the offensive battery of Carson Coffman, Reggie Gray, Rodney Wright and JJ Payne. Coffman, who went 23 of 28 with six touchdowns and two interceptions in week one turned his production up, throwing for 294 yards, seven touchdowns, and no interceptions against the Shock.
The Rush are looking to avenge bitter losses to the Talons, who won both games in 2012 by a combined eight points. The April 28th matchup was the beginning of an eleven-game winning streak for the Talons, who went on to win the division in their inaugural season in San Antonio.
Following this week's matchup, the Rush will return home to play the Pittsburgh Power on April 14 at 3:00 pm at the Allstate Arena. This will mark the first time in history that the Rush play Pittsburgh.
Shock seek to continue success in last of three game road stint
The Spokane Shock (2-0) take on the Iowa Barnstormers (2-0) for their third and final road game before returning home for their home opener on April 12th at Spokane Arena. Kickoff is scheduled for Friday, April 5th at 5:05 PM PST and will be available for viewing online at and on 700AM ESPN Radio.
After being voted week 1 offensive MVP, Erik Meyer led the Shock's explosive offense into Chicago completing 26 of 34 attempts for 314 yards and 7 TDs while adding another on the ground as Spokane went on to defeat the Rush by a final score of 76-61. Terrance Sanders returned 8 kickoffs for 183 yards including a 55 yard TD return. Adron Tennell led the Shock's receiving core with 10 catches for 118 yards and 3 TDs.
"I'm really pleased with the way our offense has come together these first two weeks. Even though there is still plenty of things we can get better at and improve on, we've started the year clicking well with one another and the upside to this group is infinite. We have a big test in Iowa this week and are looking toward this week as an opportunity to solidify ourselves as one of the top teams in the National Conference," said Shock QB Erik Meyer.
The Iowa Barnstormers start the season 2-0 for the first time in their franchise's history since 1999. Saturday, against New Orleans, QB JJ Raterink threw for 253 yards, 4TDs, 1 INT and rushed for 2 more touchdowns for a 48-34 win. The Iowa defense had 2 interceptions and forced one fumble to help seal the victory.
"We're going into a hostile environment this week against a 2-0 team with a good QB and well respected Head Coach, but we're not going to let that divert us from our plan or change how we're going to approach this game mentally. We have a great time, on and off the field this is one of the best groups of players I have ever been around and we're looking forward to the opportunity this week to go into a packed house against another undefeated team and show the league what we can do," said Shock Head Coach Andy Olson.
This will be the fourth meeting between the Shock and Barnstormers and Iowa's first home game of the season. The Shock are looking to come in and even the overall series and after being knocked out for the 2012 season by the Barnstormers. Shock QB Erik Meyer will come into Iowa fired up after suffering a season ending injury in the Shock home opener against the Barnstormers in the 2012 season.
This is the third and final road game for the Shock before their home opener against 2012 AFL defending ArenaBowl champion and West Division Rivals, the Arizona Rattlers on April 12th, 2013 at Spokane Arena with a 7:00 PM PST kickoff.
Jacksonville looks to continue hot start in Saturday trip to Cleveland
Jacksonville (2-0) enters this week with a chance to extend what has become the fastest start in franchise history, as in each of the Sharks' previous seasons the team began the year 1-1. In addition, the Sharks own a spotless record in the all-time series against Cleveland, as Jacksonville emerged victorious in each of the teams' four previous match-ups. Jacksonville swept a pair of games against Cleveland during the 2012 season and also defeated the Gladiators once in each of 2010 and 2011.
Though the Shark offense has produced an average of 62.5 points per game - third-best in the league through two weeks - the lasting story from Jacksonville's Week 2 win in Pittsburgh is the play of the defense. Specifically, the Shark defensive line enters this week fresh of setting a new franchise record with seven sacks in the team's 61-35 victory over the Power.
Seventh-year veteran Jerry Turner is off to arguably the hottest start of any player at his position, logging four sacks over the Sharks' first two games. Turner tied a single-game team record with three sacks against the Power, adding a fumble recovery in a performance that earned him a nod as the Riddell Defensive Player of the Week for Week 2.
Turner and his fellow defensive lineman will chance Cleveland quarterback Brian Zbydniewski, who begins the season as the Gladiators' starting quarterback after spending 2012 as with the New Orleans VooDoo. Through two games, Zbydniewski has completed exactly two thirds of his passes but has totaled just eight touchdown passes against two interceptions.
When the Gladiator signal-caller drops back to pass the Jacksonville secondary will have to pay close attention to Dominick Goodman. Returning to Cleveland after a Second Team All-Arena selection in 2012, Goodman racked up 28 catches for 297 yards and five touchdowns in his two games against Jacksonville last season.
Goodman and the Cleveland receiving corps will have their work cut out for them, however, against a Jacksonville secondary that pulled down three interceptions last week - two by Micheaux Robinson and one by Terrance Smith. Patrolling the middle of the field, Robinson has begun 2013 with 10 tackles, two interceptions and a league-leading total of five pass breakups through two weeks.
On the other side of the ball, quarterback Bernard Morris will face a Cleveland defense that has allowed at least 60 points in each of its first two games. Morris enters this week having accounted for 14 total touchdowns - 11 passing, 3 rushing - without committing a turnover to this point in the season. Always known for his ability to create plays outside the pocket, Morris also boasts a pass efficiency rating of 134.6, good for second best among AFL quarterbacks.
One key to Morris' performance has been the play of the Sharks' offensive line. Through two games, Cornelius Lewis, Brant Clouser and Isaac Morales have played every snap on offense, and the three have combined with fullbacks Rendrick Taylor and Dusty Bear to allow just one sack so far.
The consistent play of the offensive line has given Morris plenty of time to look for wide receiver Jeff Hughley, who leads the league with 21 receptions through two games. A threat on special teams as well, Hughley has posted an average of 210.5 all-purpose yards per game.
Hughley and the rest of his Shark teammates are looking to emerge from Cleveland with a third consecutive road win to open the season, a start that would give the Sharks plenty of momentum before a key divisional showdown in next Friday's home opener against New Orleans.
The Sharks will hold practices on Wednesday and Thursday before departing for Cleveland on Friday. Saturday's game will kick off shortly after 7:00 p.m.
Utah Looks to Rebound against Tampa Bay in Week 3
Execution and discipline was constantly emphasized throughout the week of practice as the Utah Blaze look to bounce back in an out-of-conference matchup with the Tampa Bay Storm this Saturday, April 6 at EnergySolutions Arena.
Turnovers and miscues plagued Utah (1-1) last Friday as the team fell at home 77-49 to division rival Arizona. On the same weekend, Tampa Bay (1-1) notched a 69-47 victory over the Cleveland Gladiators behind a 10 touchdown performance by Storm quarterback Adrian McPherson.
The Utah Blaze versus Tampa Bay Storm can be seen live and locally in high-definition on KJZZ, featuring Steve Brown and Aaron Boone in the booth with Alema Harrington reporting from the sidelines. The game can also be heard on The Zone 97.5 FM with Scott Garrard and Riley Jensen calling all of the action. Kickoff from EnergySolutions Arena is scheduled for 8:00 PM.
Tampa's offense is predicated on the dual-threat ability of McPherson, who is as talented with his legs as he is with his arm. Through two games, McPherson has thrown for 580 yards and 10 touchdowns while adding 89 yards and seven more scores on the ground.
The task of stopping McPherson will require a disciplined performance by the Blaze defensive front, as the group must pressure the quarterback while also containing his scrambling ability. Utah's front four failed to get to the passer last week against Arizona, but notched four sacks the previous game against another dual-threat quarterback in Pittsburgh's Jordan Jefferson.
Utah's secondary unit ranks third in the Arena Football League having allowed an average of just 224 passing yards per game. Defensive backs David Hyland and Maurice Leggett have accounted for four turnovers as each player has notched two interceptions on the year. Their main assignment will be shutting down big-bodied wideouts Greg Ellingson and Joe Hills. Hills and Ellingson each measure in at 6-4 and have combined to reel in seven touchdowns as McPherson's top targets.
In the matchup with the Rattlers, Blaze quarterback Tommy Grady struggled to get in sync with a new group of young receivers and ended the night with five interceptions. However, that could all change this week with the reinsertion of first-team All-Arena wideout Aaron Lesué. Although his return is still questionable, Lesué would give Grady a legitimate go-to target. While Utah is far from lacking in talent at the wide receiver position, Grady and Lesué have spent the past two seasons developing a rapport and combined for a total of 64 touchdowns in 2012. Lesué could be just the cure for an offense that is in the process of developing chemistry.
One of the bright spots on offense in last week's outing was the Blaze offensive line. The combination of tight end Yoshi Hardrick, guard Shannon Tevaga, center Antonio Narcisse and fullback Ben Stallings consistently stifled the pass rush of a strong Arizona front, providing a clean pocket throughout much of the night.
Over the first two weeks, the Storm defense has forced eight takeaways with three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two turnovers on downs. However, Utah will have the opportunity to compete against a young group, as Tampa features five rookie starters on defense. To this point, the Storm defensive line has yet to record a sack on the year.
With great protection and a familiar face at receiver, Tommy Grady has an excellent opportunity to get back on track this weekend if the offense can begin to jell and maintain efficiency.

Champions Professional Indoor Football League
Haymakers Gear Up For Road Game Against Bloomington Edge
The Lincoln Haymakers will look to continue their success on the road as they visit the Bloomington Edge this Friday, April 5. The Haymakers come into the game with a 1-1 record after falling to the Sioux City Bandits in the first home game this past week. The Haymakers will look to get better production from their offense, as they struggled to produce against the Bandits.
The Edge are located in Bloomington, Illinois and come into the game with a record of 1-2. The Edge lost 52 to 22 in their last game on March, 30 against the Wichita Wild. The Edge have the league's fourth ranked scoring offense and fifth ranked scoring defense. In games against common opponents the Edge have lost 62 to 56 against the Sioux City Bandits and beat Mid-Missouri Outlaws 54 to 3.
The Haymakers were plagued by turnovers in their last outing against the Sioux City Bandits with three interceptions in the game. The Bandits capitalized on two of those interceptions by scoring touchdowns in the following possessions, which played a role in the Haymakers' defeat.
Limiting the turnovers will be a key for the Haymakers when they play the Edge. The Haymakers had good offensive production against the Bandits, but failed to convert possessions into points. The Haymakers missed two field goals and were 66% in the red zone. The team was only outgained by 50 yards against the Bandits and moved the ball through the air with some success. The Haymakers, however, struggled in the ground game only gaining 77 yards and no rushers recording touchdowns.
Cortney Grixby will look to continue his success on the field. Grixby is a leader on the league's second ranked pass defense. In the game against the Bandits, Grixby recorded a kick return for a touchdown to tie the game early in the first quarter. The previous week against the Mid-Missouri Outlaws, Grixby was named the CPIFL's Defensive Player of the Week and after the Bandits game earned CPIFL's Special Teams Player of the Week honors. The Haymakers will look to Grixby and the defense to limit the Edge's scoring opportunities.
Success has come through the air for the Haymakers and they will look to continue their passing attack against the Edge. The Haymakers sputtering offense could get a jumpstart this weekend against the Edge, who have the CPIFL's seventh ranked pass defense.
The keys to the game for the Haymakers will be to limit the team's turnovers, get the ball moving in the running game, and stop the Edge on the ground as they look to the ground game often. A win against the Edge would bring the Haymakers back above five hundred. It could also possibly place them into the top four of the league early in the season, which is needed to keep them in the playoff hunt.
Kickoff of the Haymakers vs. the Edge will be at 7:05 in the U.S. Cellular Coliseum. The game will be broadcast online via Capitol Sports Live on the Haymaker's website for fans who do not travel to the game.

Indoor Football League
Colorado Ice Take Over the Top Spot in Coaches Poll
There is a new King of the Mountain in the IFL as the Colorado Ice take home the #1 spot in this week's IFL Coaches Poll.
The Colorado Ice (4-1) jump up two spots to #1 thanks to a 54-36 victory over the Wyoming Cavalry in Week 7. The win marks the team's 3rd in a row, tied with Chicago for the active longest streak. The Ice have been this year's version of the "Kardiac Kids", with three of their four victories decided by 12 total points. QB Willie Copeland, the current leader in touchdown passes with 18, continues his solid play in 2013. After playing five straight weeks, the Ice have earned a much deserved week off with the bye this weekend.
Idle in Week 7, the Nebraska Danger (3-1) remain in the #2 spot for the second consecutive week. QB Jameel Sewell, a leading MVP candidate, and the rest of the Danger roster play host to the red-hot Texas Revolution on Saturday night.
After spending the previous two weeks at #1, the Cedar Rapids Titans (4-1) fall to #3 following a 41-38 double overtime loss to the Green Bay Blizzard. The defeat ends a four game win streak for the Titans. The QB duo of Charles McCullum and Colton Hansen struggled on Saturday night, completing just 13 of 30 passes and accounting for 3 turnovers. The Titans will look to rebound this week when they take a road trip to Chicago to take on the Slaughter in an important United Conference matchup.
Following a bye, the Slaughter (3-2) remain in the #4 spot. Currently riding a three game win streak, the Slaughter host the Titans on Saturday night at the Sears Centre. The Titans hold a 2-0 record over the Slaughter thus far in 2013, but the stakes are much higher in Round 3 of 4 matchups between the teams this season. A win for the Slaughter will pull them into a tie with the Titans for the United Conference lead, however, a loss will put them 2 games back. The IFL Game of the Week could very well come down to the final seconds.
The Sioux Falls Storm (2-2) round out the Top 5 for the second consecutive week. The Storm, fresh off a bye week, host the Green Bay Blizzard in a rematch of the Kickoff Classic which resulted in a 64-41 victory for the Storm. The Storm hope to have cured their offensive woes during the off week. Despite inconsistencies on the offensive side of the football, the Storm tout the #1 defensive unit in the IFL, allowing only 28.8 points per game.
Spots 6-9 this week belong to the Texas Revolution, Green Bay Blizzard, Tri-Cities Fever, and Wyoming Cavalry. For the second time in as many weeks, the Revolution defeated the Fever, this time 54-43 in Tri-Cities. With the win, the Revolution (2-2) move up 1 spot to #6. The Fever (1-3) fall 2 spots to #8 after back-to-back losses. Thanks to a double overtime win over previous #1 Cedar Rapids, the Blizzard move up 1 spot to #7. On Friday night, the Cavalry will seek their first victory of the season against the Fever.
Terrance Bryant Returns to Storm
The Sioux Falls Storm and Head Coach Kurtiss Riggs are proud to announce that Terrance Bryant will be returning to the team as quarterback for the remainder of the 2013 season, starting this Sunday, April 7th against the Green Bay Blizzard.
After what has been a struggle on the offensive side of the ball for the first four games, Coach Riggs decided that veteran leadership and talent were going to be the team's best hope for a successful 2013 campaign.
Bryant retired from indoor football after the Storm's 2010 championship run which ended with a loss in Billings, Montana. He has been a resident of Sioux Falls working as a route manager for Pepsi Cola and continues to be active with football, working with area high school and college students as a coach with the Rigg's Premier Football Academy.
His number "5" currently hangs in the rafters of the "Storm Shelter" and will stay there. Bryant will be wearing the #15.

Professional Indoor Football League
Raiders Sweep Player of the Week Awards
The Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) has named Richmond Raiders QB Warren Smith, DB RoShawn Marshall, and K T.C. Stevens as the Week 4 Players of the Week.
In last week's lone Week 4 matchup, the Richmond Raiders (2-1) made a clean sweep in the Player of the Week awards beginning with Quarterback Warren Smith (6'1 200, Maine) earning the Offensive Player of the Week honor by completing 21 of 26 passes for 232 yards and 4 TD's. Smith also ran for a touchdown among his five carries for 14 yards. In just his second start of his rookie campaign, Smith helped erase a late first half 22-13 deficit leading the Raiders on a 24-0 run extending into the early moments of the second half helping seize the lead for good. Richmond would go on to extinguish Knoxville 51-36.
Defensive back RoShawn Marshall (6'4 270, Montgomery JC) is one of the key returnees from a stout 2012 defense. On Saturday, Marshall grabbed the Week 4 Defensive Player of the Week after making some key plays one of which included a forced and recovered fumble leading to a Raiders touchdown. Marshall also defended the pass on Knoxville's last play of the game, knocking the ball to the turf on fourth down to give the Raiders possession. After falling behind early, Marshall and company held the Nighthawks to just 14 second half points pushing the Raiders to their second consecutive victory.
Kicker T.C. Stevens (5'9 175, Hampden-Sydney) is no stranger to winning Special Teams honors winning the award three times in 2012. Stevens earned his first Special Teams Player of the Week award of the 2013 season finishing with a game-high nine points in Saturday's victory over Knoxville. At the end of the first half, he also nailed a career-long 52-yard field goal giving the Raiders the lead for good. It was also the longest field goal made in the PIFL this year.
The Raiders are off this week but return to action Saturday, April 13 with a home date against the Lehigh Valley SteelHawks. Kickoff is at 7:00 at the Richmond Coliseum.

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