Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Daily League News & Notes

Arena Football League
Payne Leads League in Average All-Purpose Yards Per Game
The New Orleans VooDoo's 2013 season has not turned out as many of the players, coaches, and fans had expected. After making the playoffs last year, not many people could have predicted that after 9 games the VooDoo would be (1-8) and last in their division.
However, amongst all of the unexpected negativity that has been cast over the VooDoo, one of the positives this season has been the playmaking ability of WR Quorey Payne.
Payne is averaging an astounding 243.5 all-purpose yards per game, which leads the AFL. The 5'10", 180 lb wide receiver from Southern Illinois is dynamic with the ball in his hands, and has the ability to score from anywhere on the field at any time. Despite participating in only 4 of the VooDoo's 9 games this season, Payne has accounted for 938 all-purpose yards, with 25 receptions for 322 yards and 2 TD's, 8 rushing yards, 33 yards off of missed field goal returns, with 29 kick returns for 575 yards (19.8 yards per return), and 2 TD's.
In his last two games played, Quorey hauled in 10 passes for 102 yards against the Tampa Bay Storm, and had 8 receptions for 165 yards and scored 2 TD's against the Chicago Rush. If the VooDoo have any chance of resurrecting their season, Quorey Payne and his big play ability will be a key factor.
Another bright spot in a season eclipsed in darkness, has been the play of QB Kurt Rocco. Although he has missed a few games due to injury, Rocco reached a career milestone last week against the Chicago Rush, surpassing 200 career passing TD's.
Summers Assigned to the Sharks
The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks announced Tuesday that veteran defensive lineman Derrick Summers has been assigned to the Jacksonville roster on a one-year contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"Derrick was a huge part of our team in 2011 and 2012 before getting an opportunity in the CFL," Sharks head coach Les Moss said. "He's a talented pass rusher with a proven track record in this league, and we expect him to be able to step in and contribute right away. We're excited to have Derrick back here in Jacksonville."
The 25-year-old Summers rejoins the Sharks after spending time with both the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. He signed with Toronto on May 26, 2012, and appeared in eight games with the team, recording 12 tackles and two sacks. Released by the Argonauts on October 18, Summers then signed with the Tiger-Cats on October 23, logging a sack in two games with Hamilton. The Tiger-Cats released Summers on May 15.
Summers is set to begin his third season in the Arena Football League, playing with the Sharks in both 2011 and 2012. Before signing with Toronto, Summers played in six games during the 2012 AFL season, totaling 10.5 tackles, two tackles for loss and two sacks. Summers also both forced and recovered a fumble.
The previous year, Summers was a breakout star during his rookie season in Jacksonville. Appearing in all 18 games during the 2011 regular-season campaign, Summers racked up team-high totals of 11 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles. He also tied for the team lead with totals of three fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks. Summers' overall performance earned him a selection to the All-Arena Second Team that season, and his total of 11 sacks stands as the fourth-best individual performance by a rookie in AFL history.
A native of Southfield, Michigan, Summers played collegiately at the University of Toledo from 2006-09. In his four seasons as a Rocket, Summers spent time at linebacker, defensive end and nose tackle, registering a total of 135 tackles and five sacks.
In another Tuesday transaction, the Sharks announced that wide receiver Jarvis Williams has been placed on recallable reassignment. The Jacksonville roster remains at the League maximum of 24 active players.
Storm vs. Barnstormers - Game Preview
The Tampa Bay Storm (6-4, 2-3) heads to the Wells Fargo Arena to take on the Iowa Barnstormers (4-6, 1-3) Saturday, June 1 at 8:05 PM ET.
This will be the 11th time these two franchises have met, with the series tied at 5-5 and Iowa holding an eight point margin of victory. The series history is full of memorable moments, including the greatest game ever played - ArenaBowl X. A game that saw the Kurt Warner-led Barnstormers fall to the Storm by a score of 42-38, earning Tampa Bay its then fourth ArenaBowl championship.
Saturday's match will be the first time these two teams have met since April 18, 2008, when the Barnstormers were operating as the New York Dragons. The Storm has traveled to play this franchise a total of three times, and possesses a 2-1 road record. Saturday will mark the first time Tampa Bay has played in Iowa since May 25, 2000. The Storm is 1-1 when playing in Des Moines.
Both squads are coming into this contest having recently suffered a loss. The Barnstormers are currently riding a two-game losing streak, with their most recent loss coming against the Arizona Rattlers by the score of 70-26. The Storm dropped its latest match against the Philadelphia Soul by the score of 73-55.
Having been plagued by injuries to four starters before their most recent match, the Barnstormers look to make a comeback against Tampa Bay as the team tries to push for first place in the Central Division.
The Storm will look to break the "loss-win-loss" pattern against an Iowa team that boasts one of the best defenses in the league, holding opponents to an average of 46.4 points per game. Storm Quarterback Adrian McPherson continues to lead the league in rushing with 345 yards for 26 touchdowns but he may have a tough time getting through the Iowa defensive line; a line that allows a mere 19.6 rushing yards per game, good for fifth in the AFL.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Barnstormers are led by quarterback J.J. Raterink. Raterink has completed 187-of-314 passes for 2,285 yards, 45 touchdowns and only six interceptions. However, the team may be without its main signal caller due to an injury sustained during last week's matchup against Arizona. The receiving corps. is led by Marcus Harris who has 58 receptions for 851 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season. Look for him to be the team's primary receiver in this week's game.
Defensively for the Storm, the team will look to get back to what made it a force earlier in the season. The team's defensive line will try and apply pressure on Iowa, and force it to make mistakes. Pressure will create turnovers, and will hopefully help an opportunistic backfield get back on track. Currently the Storm defensive backfield is tied for second in the league with 18 interceptions.
Sharks Set to Host Power on Saturday, June 1
The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks (7-3) return home this week, hosting the East Division's Pittsburgh Power (3-6) on Saturday, June 1 on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Kickoff for Saturday's game is set for 7:00 p.m.
The Sharks head into this week's action with a chance to build on the team's 44-41 road win over the in-state rival Orlando Predators last Saturday night. That victory snapped the Sharks' three-game losing streak and allowed the team to regain sole possession of first place in the South Division, as Jacksonville currently holds a one-game lead over the Tampa Bay Storm with eight games remaining for each team. Though much will change in the final two months of the regular season, this week's game is a matchup of the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds in the American Conference playoff race.
This week, Jacksonville faces an opponent against which it has enjoyed tremendous success. The Sharks have taken each of their three previous meetings against Pittsburgh, winning each game by at least 20 points. That includes a 61-35 Week 2 victory over the Power earlier this season, a game in which the Jacksonville defense set a new franchise record with a total of seven quarterback sacks.
That early season performance established what has become a trend for each team this season. The relentless Shark pass rush has led the AFL in quarterback sacks for nearly the entire season and currently has a league-best total of 29. Defensive lineman Jerry Turner regained the individual league lead (8.0) with a sack last week, passing teammate Aaron Robbins, who leads all Mac linebackers with 7.5 sacks.
The Sharks' front four is a lot for any team to handle, let alone a team that has struggled to protect the quarterback to the extent that Pittsburgh has this season. Through nine games, the Power has allowed opposing defenses to record a total of 30 sacks, highest in the league. Rest assured that Turner, Robbins and the rest of the Sharks' d-line will be looking to exploit this advantage on Saturday night.
Offensively, last week's game saw the return of quarterback Bernard Morris to the starting lineup. Morris accounted for five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) against the Predators, and has a chance to build momentum with another matchup against his former team. Morris began the 2011 season as the Power's starter before suffering a mid-season injury, and has enjoyed tremendous success against Pittsburgh since re-joining the Sharks in 2012. In two games against the Power, Morris has completed 46 of his 62 passes for 442 yards and 12 touchdowns, throwing just one interception in those contests.
Though the Sharks did come away with a win in their last game, the offense has still crossed the 50-point threshold just once since Week 4. One area in which improvement could lead to increased production is on third down. Over the last three weeks, the Jacksonville offense is just six-of-24, a conversion rate of 25% that is well below the team's season average of 48%. With that said, converting against the Power defense is no small feat, as Pittsburgh's opponents have cashed in on just over a third of their third-down attempts this season.
On the other side, Pittsburgh hopes to have found stability at the quarterback position in Steven Sheffield, who has started the last three games in place of the injured Jordan Jefferson. Sheffield has led his team to two wins in those three contests, including a come-from-behind, 55-44 defeat of the Cleveland Gladiators last Saturday night. After seeing limited action with Spokane in 2011 and San Antonio in 2012, Sheffield has already set a new single-season high with 15 passing touchdowns. But the Power signal-caller has also been turnover-prone, throwing seven interceptions this season.
The Shark secondary enjoyed success in the first meeting between these teams, pulling down a season-high three picks, including a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by veteran Micheaux Robinson. Worth noting, however, is that Sheffield did not play in that game, and so this week Robinson and his teammates will face the challenge of attacking a quarterback whom they have not seen in person. There is no doubt that Sheffield will look early and often for wideout Mike Washington, far and away Pittsburgh's most productive receiver this season. Leading his team with 79 catches for 842 yards and 15 scores, Washington has more than twice as many receptions and touchdowns as any other player on the Pittsburgh roster.
This week's game is the first of several rematches that the Sharks will play over the course of the second half of the season. In addition to this week, the team will square off against the Orlando Predators, New Orleans VooDoo, Tampa Bay Storm and Cleveland Gladiators for a second time. Finally, the Sharks still have two games remaining against the Spokane Shock, as those two squads will meet for the first time in Week 12.
To this point in the season, the Sharks have taken care of business against foes in the American Conference. In fact, Jacksonville has a perfect 6-0 record in conference play, notching exactly one win against each of the six other teams in the conference. Though there is still plenty of football to be played, that record definitely stands as a positive sign as the Sharks head toward the postseason.
Soul Set to Take On Rattlers in ArenaBowl XXV Rematch
The Philadelphia Soul (5-4) look to win their third in-a-row as they host the Arizona Rattlers (9-1) in a rematch of ArenaBowl XXV. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. and will be televised on the Comcast Network. Following the game, the Soul will host the "RoShon Fegan and Caroline Sunshine Concert Jam," which will be free to ticketholders and in conjunction with their "Daddy-Daughter Night."
Last week, Philadelphia defeated the Tampa Bay Storm in dominating fashion last week, 73-55, led by QB Dan Raudabaugh and the Soul defense. The Rattlers come into this matchup with the league's best record and are currently riding a six-game win streak after beating up Iowa, 70-26.
"We need to find a way to put pressure on Davila," explained Soul head coach Clint Dolezel. "We know they're a team that likes to throw deep, so we need to make sure our guys play good coverage and we need to put pressure on him. They have a solid line, so our guys need to come with a strong pass rush. Arizona scores a lot, so we need to stay hot offensively. We've been scoring a lot these past couple weeks. There's a good chance this game could turn out to be a shoot-out."
The defense is led by DL Bryan Robinson who is No. 1 in the league in tackles for loss (12.5) and No. 2 in sacks (7.5). Robinson has led the Soul defense with six sacks in his past four games. Philadelphia's rush defense is one of their strengths as it ranks No. 3 in fewest rushing yards per game (18.1) and a league-leading fewest rushing touchdowns allowed (8).
Clint Dolezel's offense has been clicking this year, as Raudabaugh leads the league-leading total offense (311.4) and No. 3 scoring offense (59.0). Their passing attack ranks No. 4 (282.0) while they've scored the second most rushing touchdowns in the league (23). Tiger Jones is Philadelphia's main weapon, ranking No. 3 in the league in receiving yards (1,135), No. 2 in receiving yards per game (126.1) and No.6 in receiving touchdowns (20).
Arizona is led by QB Nick Davila. He is No. 1 in pass efficiency (131.9), No. 2 in passing yards (2,642), and No. 2 in passing touchdowns (66). The Rattlers have the best scoring offense in the league (67.9) and a strong defense with the No. 3 scoring defense (46.8). Although their pass defense hasn't been strong this season, (No. 13), they've been able to force the turnovers with a league-leading 20 interceptions. The Rattlers have also been shutting down the opponent's run (14.1) ranking No. 2, which is four yards better than the Soul's No. 3 run defense (18.1).
There are several factors to watch in this matchup. One factor to watch is Raudabaugh's performance. He has a rating of 131.88 over the past three weeks and is about to face the No. 13 pass defense in the league. The Soul are also facing the second-best run defense in the league, therefore FB Derrick Ross may be ineffective in this game. If Raudabaugh can connect with his receivers, they should be able to get a jump on the Rattlers.
Another factor to watch is the turnovers. Arizona is the best in the league at forcing turnovers, leading the league with a +24 turnover margin and 20 interceptions. Furthermore, turnovers have been the Soul's Achilles' heel all season long. Although Raudabaugh has thrown just one interception in his past 162 pass attempts, if Arizona can force the mistakes, they may come out of this matchup as the winner.
Lastly, Davila will have to be the Soul's target on defense. He leads the Rattlers' offense in his ability to be efficient and making the right plays. Facing one of the best pass rushing defenses in the league in Philadelphia, the Soul will need to put pressure on Davila in hopes of taking him off his game.
The Soul game will be themed, "Manayunk and Roxborough Night at the Soul," because of the Town Takeover on Friday from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Northern Children's Services. The night is also themed "Daddy Daughter Night," which will feature the "RoShon Fegan and Caroline Sunshine Concert Jam" following the Soul game. The concert will be free to ticketholders and additional VIP packages are available for purchase.
VooDoo Continue Homestand as Cleveland Comes to Town
The New Orleans VooDoo begin the back nine of the season with a home date with the struggling Cleveland Gladiators this Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans (1-8) and Cleveland (2-7) come in to this weekend's game with similar struggles as they both have suffered multiple double digit losses this season. These teams last met on June 16, 2012 in Cleveland as the VooDoo knocked off the Gladiators 55-42.
Last Saturday against Chicago, the VooDoo out-gained the Rush in most offensive categories but were unable to match the Rush's prolific second quarter. Both VooDoo quarterbacks saw playing time last week and both had similar results. Starter Kurt Rocco threw four touchdowns but also threw two interceptions. Bill Stull, who played the entire second half tossed three scores but was picked off once. Both quarterbacks have had their positive moments, but both have also struggled with consistency. Stull and Rocco combine for 1,849 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions.
Cleveland quarterback Brian Zbydniewski is eighth in the league with 2,001 passing yards, but he also has 14 interceptions. Zbydniewski has thrown 34 touchdowns and also has struggled with consistency as his passer rating has bounced around, and his completion percentage is 57.4. Opponents have also sacked him 20 times this season. Rocco and Stull combine for 21. Both teams' passer ratings average in the mid-80s, so the team with consistent quarterback play could be the difference in this game between two struggling teams.
The teams' receiving squads match up relatively well. The VooDoo's Donovan Morgan has strung together two straight games of 140 yards or more receiving. He leads the team with 46 catches for 648 yards and 13 touchdowns. Courtney Smith is right behind Morgan with 42 receptions and 10 touchdowns. Cleveland's Thyron Lewis leads the Gladiators with 752 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 48 receptions are second to Dominick Goodman, who has 65. Lewis has also posted two straight triple digit yardage totals. The signal callers from both teams will have to rely on these squads to get that elusive victory.
The turnover bug has been an Achilles heel for both of these teams. Cleveland has turned the ball over 20 times this season, while the VooDoo have given the ball away 32 times this season. The team that wins the turnover battle will likely win the game. Turnovers have been a main factor in many of the VooDoo's losses as they gave up six against Chicago. The Rush turned those takeaways into five scores, which was the difference in that loss.
Both teams also boast solid kick return games. Goodman's 593 yards is right behind the VooDoo's Brent Holmes, who has 601. The VooDoo's Quorey Payne has also been busy as he recorded a team high 11 returns for 191 yards last weekend, totaling 575 yards on the year. All three players rank in the league's top ten list for kick returns. The teams square off Saturday, June 1 at 7:00 p.m. inside the "Mausoleum" on Poydras Street.

Champions Professional Indoor Football League
Former Haymaker Lawrence Signs with CFL's Alouettes
Lincoln Haymakers former offensive lineman Will Lawrence has signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. During his time with the Haymakers, Lawrence was invited to a private workout with the Alouettes. Lawrence impressed Montreal during the workout enough to land him on their roster as the squad gets geared up for the 2013 season.
Lawrence attended Boise State University and will join former Boise State coach and current Alouettes Coach Dan Hawkins. The Haymakers are very excited to allow opportunities for their players to showcase their skills and move up to the next level with Lawrence being the first success story of the young Haymakers organization.
Defender's Road Woes Continue in Omaha
The Oklahoma Defenders (3-8) traveled north on their final road game of the 2013 CPIFL campaign to take on the Omaha Beef (9-1) on Friday night. The struggling Defenders were coming off a disappointing 65-28 loss to the Kansas City Renegades at home while the Beef beat Bloomington 51-38.
The Beef have been a dominant team all season and the struggling Defenders had a daunting task ahead of them.
As it happened, Omaha came out swinging and had three scores on the board and the first quarter in the books before the Defenders broke the plane of the Beef goal line. Oklahoma quarterback Carlos Cavanaugh connected with Cameron Clemons on a 31-yard pass for a touchdown. The two-point conversion try failed.Patrick "Packy" Jones caught the first of his two touchdown passes on the game when Cavanaugh found him in the Omaha end zone with a 9-yard strike.
Carlos Cavanaugh converted the two-point try and the Beef lead was cut to 27-14 with 5 minutes remaining in the half. Omaha would score before the halftime buzzer to extend the lead to 33-14. The Beef lit the Defenders up four times to inflate their advantage to 59-14 before David Bowie found Packy Jones open for an 18-yard pass for the final Oklahoma touchdown of the game.
Altogether the Defenders produced 183 yards of offense, and Packy Jones led his teammates with 117 all-purpose yards and two receiving touchdowns. Oklahoma's running game never got off the ground, but Carlos Cavanaugh and Jamario Thomas made 12 rushing attempts for a combined 51 yards. The tandem quarterback combination of Cavanaugh and David Bowie completed 19 passes on 34 attempts for 134 yards through the air for two touchdowns and two interceptions. The loss drops the Defenders to 3-8, and for the 2013 season they only managed one win while traveling, a 62-40 win over the Kansas Koyotes in Topeka on March 16th. The Beef improved to 9-1 on the year and with the Sioux City Bandits defeating the Wichita Wild 46-21 on Saturday, Omaha assumes sole possession of first place in the CPIFL.
The Defenders are on their second bye week, then they will return to the Tulsa Convention Center for the final game of the 2013 season against the Salina Bombers at 7:05pm on June 8.
Haymakers Partner With Team Jack Foundation
The Lincoln Haymakers and the Omaha Beef indoor professional football teams have joined up with Team Jack to raise awareness and continue to raise money for the leading cancer cause of death in children, being pediatric brain cancer. There are plenty of opportunities for fans to get involved! June 1st at 7:05 inside the Pershing Center in Lincoln, Team Jack will be in attendance as we kickoff the final Haymakers home game of the 2013 regular season.
Starting the night's special events will be Jack Hoffman representing the Haymakers as a ceremonial coin toss captain. Fans of the Beef and the Haymakers can visit to donate and see which fan base can donate more! Fans will be encouraged to wear grey for the event to signify their support for the cause. The Haymakers will sport special jerseys to commemorate the Nebraska National Guard with a jersey auction allowing fans to buy the jerseys. Part of the game's proceeds will be donated to Team Jack.

Indoor Football League
Slaughter Announce Upcoming Promotions
Join the Slaughter on Friday, May 31 for their final regular season home game of 2013. Kickoff is at 7:35 PM. The Slaughter will battle the Green Bay Blizzard. After losing on the road to the Texas Revolution, the Blizzard come in to the game with a record of 4-7. The Slaughter are coming off of a bye week and look to continue their home winning streak of five games.
They'll celebrate you, the fans for our FAN APPRECIATION NIGHT. Arrive early and enter into the raffles for hotel stays, museum tickets, spa treatments, and more! Random seats, rows, and sections will also win prizes throughout the game! Over $25,000 worth of prizes will be given away to the fans!
Other Fan Appreciation events include merchandise discounts, a dixieland band, Sinful Saints, performing live on the concourse near the Fun Zone, and the Northern Illinois Fire Musuem's vintage vehicles from the Great Chicago Fire.
LIMITED EDITION, GAME WORN ST. PATRICK'S DAY JERSEYS Silent Auction at Customer Service - #10 Delric Ellington, #76 Sarge Post-game Live Auction on the field - #3 Daniel Dufrene, #7 Juice Williams, #76 Steve McMichael
Players from the NFL Players Alumni Chicago Chapter are scheduled to be in attendance and signing autographs for fans. The players will sign autographs prior to the game and during halftime on the concourse. Scheduled players include Rashid Davis (Bears), Ahmad Merritt (Bears), Robin Earl (Bears), Brian Glaskow (Bears), Bruce Herron (Bears), Dan Morjal (Bears), Marcus Sullivan (Bills), David Porter (Bills), Les Shaw (Cowboys), Marc May (Vikings), Tim Terrell (Falcons), Jermaine Hampton (Colts), and Ryan Yarbrough (Jets).
Blizzard vs. Slaughter - Game Preview
The Green Bay Blizzard (4-7) enter their second game of their three game road trip as they take on the Chicago Slaughter (7-5) on Friday, May 31 at the Sears Centre Arena. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:35 P.M
This is the tenth game all-time between the two teams with the Slaughter holding a 3-6 advantage over Green Bay. The two team's most recent game was on March 23 when the Slaughter defeated the Blizzard 27-14 in Green Bay.
Last week, the Blizzard fell to Texas Revolution 60-56.The team now has back-to-back losses for the first time under Coach Chad Baldwin. It was the first time in franchise history the team had lost to the Revolution and the loss dealt a severe blow to the Blizzard's playoff hopes.The Blizzard can still make the playoffs if the team wins out and the Wyoming Cavalry defeat the Cedar Rapids Titans this weekend.
The current Blizzard team has experienced a lot of change since the team last played Chicago. In the team's last game vs the Slaughter, the Blizzard tied a regular season franchise low 14 points. The Blizzard have since averaged 57.2 points per game under of QB Spencer Ohm, Head Coach Chad Baldwin and Offensive Coordinator John Pate.
Offensively the team is one of the most explosive in the IFL. Last week, the Blizzard offense racked up 299 offensive yards, their second highest of the season. B.J Hill led all receivers with his first career 100 receiving yard game. He ended the night with 234 all-purpose yards, the most in the IFL this season. He ranks first in the IFL with 1,474 all-purpose yards. WR Ryan Balentine is third in the league in receiving yards with 663.
However, the defense struggled to contain the Texas Revolution last week. The team allowed 60 points for only the second time this season and allowed a 300 yard passer for the first time since 2011. The defense now ranks sixth in points allowed per game at 44.6 and ranks fourth in yards per game in 227.2
The Chicago Slaughter are coming off a bye week and need to defeat the Blizzard to stay in the United Conference playoff hunt. Chicago is 5-1 at home this season.Chicago has three players that have previously played for the Blizzard in DL P.J South, WR Marquel Willis, and OL Tim Mueller.
The Slaughter are led by QB Cody Kirby. Kirby ranks first in the IFL in passer rating (11.8). RB Daniel DuFrene leads the team in rushing and is sixth in the IFL with 437 rushing yards. WR Juice Williams leads the team in receiving with 54 catches for 498 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Slaughter's offense ranks next to last in the IFL averaging just 40.5 points per game.
The Slaughter's defense, however, is one of the best in the IFL. Chicago leads the league in defensive touchdowns with seven and allows the fourth fewest points per game in the league with 41.2. The LB duo of Ameer Ismail and Lenny Radtke rank second and third in tackles with 116 and 86 respectively. In addition, DL Kyle Jenkins is second in the league in sacks (11.5) while DB Chris Johnson is also second in interceptions with six.

Professional Indoor Football League
Lehigh Valley Looks to Lock Up Playoff Spot
The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (6-4) will be making their first of two trips in three weeks to Georgia when they travel to Columbus this weekend to take on the Columbus Lions (3-6) for a 4:00 pm EST, Sunday afternoon game. The Steelhawks won their first meeting between the two teams earlier in the year 60-51.
Lehigh Valley looks to continue the roll it's been on both offensively and defensively. Under the command of PIFL Week Twelve Offensive Player of the Week QB Adam Bednarik (2,197 yds, 40 tds, 71% completion rate) the offense has acquired a league best rating in several categories so far this season including- pass offense, total offense, and pass efficiency. Bednarik has three dangerous receivers to rely on in Tyrone Collins (8.75 rec/g), Tom Gilson (7.90 rec/g), Torieal Gibson (6.56 rec/g); all three of which are ranked in the top seven in receptions per game. Look for offensive fireworks as the Steelhawks number one pass offense encounters the Lion's lowest ranked pass defense.
The Lions, losers of four straight, are coming off a close overtime loss the Richmond Raiders. Their most dangerous offensive threat is in wide receiver Maurice Dupree (17 tds, 767 yds) who averages 96 yards per game. He also caught two touchdown passes in the teams' last matchup. Columbus will be facing a Steelhawk defense that has been coming on strong the past few weeks. Lehigh Valley leads the league in turnover margin with a +12 margin. LB Terence Thomas' (21.5 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 int) 4 forced fumbles being a large factor of that stat.
The Steelhawks currently sit in third place, but are just a half game behind the Richmond Raiders for second place and an opportunity to host a first round playoff game.
Hammers Set for Saturday's Military Appreciation Night Showdown Against Louisiana
It's Military Appreciation Night presented by Avion Solutions with the first 1,000 fans receiving special military night t-shirts.
Other sponsors of the event include the Alabama National Guard, Landers McLarty Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, ADT Security Systems, ADK, Still Serving Veterans, No. 1 Bailbonding, Redstone Federal Credit Union, H&R Block, KBM. Inc., QinetiQ North America and Yulista.
The two teams will meet as scheduled in Week 13 in Huntsville after having last week's gameat Louisiana rescheduled to a date to be named later. The Hammers (6-2) currently sit alone atop the PIFL standings after their 70-43 victory over the Columbus Lions in Week 11. The Swashbucklers (4-4) are currently tied for fourth place with the Albany Panthers.
Charles McClain and Cortez Stubbs picked up Week 11 PIFL honors while leading the Hammers to the victory over the Lions. Stubbs was named PIFL Defensive Player of the Week after recovering two fumbles and intercepting a pass. McClain was named Week 11 Special Teams Player of the Week after almost single-handedly taking out the Lions with 228 all-purpose yards.
In addition to leading all receivers with 146 yards, McClain picked up his second interception of the season and helped put the game out of reach late in the 3rd quarter when he scored on a 54-yard kickoff return.
The Swashbucklers will be looking to build off of Week 11's 68-66 double overtime victory over the Richmond Raiders. Quarterback Chris Mitchell was named PIFL Offensive player of the Week for Week 11 after throwing for 243 yards and scoring seven total touchdowns, five through the air and two on the ground. In addition to leading his team to their fourth win in five games, Mitchell has a streak of 85 pass attempts without throwing an interception.
The Hammers will close out the 2013 regular season home schedule with the Richmond Raiders coming to town for a Week 14 matchup which has the potential to be a game between two teams with the best records in the league.

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