Arena Football League
Chicago Looks To Continue Winning Ways Against Philadelphia
The Chicago Rush (4-2) return to the Allstate Arena Saturday night to face off against the Philadelphia Soul (2-3) at 7:00 pm. This game will welcome the Soul to Chicago for the first time since the Rush defeated Philadelphia 62-28 in 2011.
The Rush continued their winning ways last weekend with their fourth consecutive victory of the season over divisional rival Iowa. Quarterback Carson Coffman connected with wide receiver Jared Jenkins to complete the two point conversion following a Kelvin Morris touchdown run in overtime to seal the win. Reggie Gray went off for 234 yards and six touchdowns on 12 receptions in the game. His six-score mark tied Bobby Sippio's individual franchise record.
Chicago finished 4-0 in April; it's the first time they have earned that record in a month since April 2010 and just their seventh time in franchise history. This year the Rush are 3-0 on the road following an 0-2 start at the Allstate Arena to begin the season. Their record away from the Allstate is in contrast to what happened last season when the Rush compiled three road wins all year long.
"Right place at the right time" was the story of April. Outside of the 45-14 blowout win over Pittsburgh in the only home game the Rush played in the month, Chicago outscored San Antonio, Utah, and Iowa by just eleven total points in the three wins. Road victories are tough to come by, but the Rush have made plays on both sides of the ball in crunch time this month.
While the Rush stumbled out of the gate early, everything has fallen in place over the past few weeks. Carson Coffman's consistency at quarterback has been one of the better stories for the Rush this season. Defensive backs Jorrick Calvin, Joe Phinisee, Semaj Moody, and Vic Hall have been there to make an impact defensively. Calvin continued his active play on the defensive side of the ball this weekend with 12.5 tackles and an interception. He leads the entire league in tackles (48.5) and passes defended (14). To put those numbers in perspective, his nearest competition in terms of tackles sits at 33, 15.5 less than him. Kelvin Morris continued to show why he one of the top linebackers in the AFL when he intercepted 2012 MVP Tommy Grady to seal the victory with three minutes left in the game two weeks ago against the Utah Blaze.
Philadelphia is alone atop the American Conference East Division, ahead of the 1-4 Cleveland Gladiators and Pittsburgh Power. They venture into Chicago following two close losses at home against Cleveland and Jacksonville. Last month, Philadelphia Head Coach Clint Dolezel was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame as one of the AFL's greatest quarterbacks. Current Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh is second in the league in passing average per game. All eyes will be on him and Fullback Derrick Ross.
Ross has been the most explosive rusher in the AFL the past two seasons. This season he's aiming for his third consecutive All-Arena nod, and once again leads fullbacks in multiple categories. The last time Chicago's met such an elite runner is most likely in 2007, the final time they faced all-time rushing leader Bo Kelly. Containing Ross and creating turnovers in the passing game may prove to be the difference in this matchup.
In addition to the festivities on the field, the Rush are celebrating Latin Heritage Night. The evening will be highlighted by appearances by notable local Hispanic individuals and groups to honor the local Latino population. Following this weekend's game, the Rush look to extend their undefeated road record as they head to Cleveland to play the Gladiators on Saturday, May 11th at 7:00 pm.
Week 7 Preview: Barnstormers at Talons
The San Antonio Talons (2-3) are looking to get their first home win of the season as they take on their Central Division rival, Iowa Barnstormers (2-4), Friday night at the Alamodome. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM CST and the Talons hope to use momentum from their 42-37 victory in Pittsburgh to beat Iowa, who is currently on a four game losing streak. This win would allow San Antonio to reach .500 for the first time this season.
In their last matchup with the Iowa Barnstormers, the Talons lost 66-63 in Iowa. The loss was caused by an 18-yard Iowa field goal in the final seconds of the game. The last-minute loss ended the Talons 11-game win streak to finish the 2012regular season.
Special teams will be a key in this division rivalry, which usually leads to close games. The Talons led by Stefan Demos are 90% on extra points this season. The Barnstormers are hoping Fabrizio Scaccia, who has played one game with the team and went 5-7 on PATs last week, can help their kicking woes. Iowa currently ranks last in the league in extra point percentage hitting only 65%.
San Antonio's dominant defense will look to Tim McGill and Joe Sykes to maintain their intensity to stop Iowa's aggressive offense. The defense will be vital in pushing Iowa's losing streak to 5 games. The Talons have been carried by their defensive line which is ranked 2nd in the AFL in total defense and 2nd in total sacks (16).
The Talons defensive duo Tim McGill and Joe Sykes are ruling the defensive line and are currently tied for third in the AFL with 4.5 total tackles for loss. McGill posted 2 sacks for a loss of 12 yards in last week's victory in Pittsburgh. McGill ranks fourth in the AFL with 4 sacks for a loss of 21. Sykes leads the AFL with 5.5 sacks on the season and is tied for first in the League with 2 forced fumbles. Sykes finished last week's game with 1 sack for a 3-yard loss.
They are looking to show their dominance against Iowa's offensive line which has already allowed 14 sacks on their quarterback this season. Iowa's J.J. Raterink is the 5th ranked quarterback in the AFL for total offense averaging 284.7 yards per game. The Barnstormers' offense has completed 62.5% of their passes and score 86% of the time they enter the red zone. The Iowa offense is led by wide receivers Marco Thomas (422 yards) and Marcus Harris (585 yards) who boast 9 touchdowns apiece
San Antonio will have to come together offensively to compete against Iowa. The Talons red zone offense is currently ranked last in the AFL, while the total offense is ranked 13th.
Nick Hill is hoping for his 3rd victory as the Talons quarterback. Hill is playing in his first game in front of a home crowd at the Alamodome. He has completed 60 of 104 pass attempts leading to 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Hill went 17-29 with 180 yards and 5 touchdowns last week in a victory over the Power.
The game kicks off at the Alamodome on Friday, May 3rd at 7:30 p.m. for Los Talons Night. Los Talons Night will recognize San Antonio's diverse culture, strong Hispanic heritage and kick-off Cinco de Mayo. Tejano music award winner, Stefani Montiel, will perform at the Coors Light Lounge immediately following the game.
SaberCats Game vs. Tampa Bay Moved to Friday, May 10
The SaberCats (3-2) announced today that their game next week against the Tampa Bay Storm (4-2) (originally scheduled for Saturday, May 11) has been moved to Friday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. PT at HP Pavilion in San Jose. The change is due to a potential scheduling conflict involving Game 6 for the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks first round playoff series. All tickets purchased for May 11 will be valid for the rescheduled game on Friday, May 10. For any questions, please call the SaberCats front office at 408-673-3400. The SaberCats and American Cancer Society are also hosting Breast Cancer Awareness night for this game.
"We are very happy that the Sharks are in the playoffs and wish them well in their quest for a Stanley Cup," said SaberCats Managing Partner Dave Fry. "We are glad to accommodate this change and wanted to let our fans know as early as possible of this scheduling adjustment,"
San Jose and Tampa Bay have met 15 times all-time, with the SaberCats winning on eight occasions. The Storm won the last meeting in July of 2011 in Tampa Bay, 57-44, but San Jose have won three of the last four meetings, and have won their last four home matchups in the series.
Both teams enter Week 8 having won on the road, as San Jose dispatched the New Orleans VooDoo (1-4) 57-38 at the Mercedez Benz Superdome and the Storm knocked off the previously unbeaten Spokane Shock (5-1) 70-62 in Washington. The SaberCats host the Cleveland Gladiators (1-4) this Saturday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. PT at HP Pavilion, while Tampa Bay hosts New Orleans the same night.
AFL Sends Pair of Receivers to NFL
Two of the Arena Football League's top receivers are headed to the NFL, as Jacksonville Sharks receiver Jeff Hughley and Tampa Bay Storm receiver Joe Hills have been invited to rookie mini-camps with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers, respectively.
Hills (6-4, 210, Tennessee State) joins the Carolina Panthers on the heels of finishing his tenth consecutive multi-touchdown game in the AFL. The second-year pro earned Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Week honors after setting career-highs with 16 receptions for 259 yards in Week 3 of the 2013 AFL season. He garnered AFL MVP of the Week honors in Week 6 after posting 10 receptions for 177 yards and five touchdowns in the team's 70-62 victory over the Spokane Shock on CBS Sports Network. Hills leads the League in receiving yards with 769 on the season. He has 101 receptions for 1,551 yards and 33 touchdowns for his career.
Hughley (5-8, 180, Averett) has appeared in the last two ArenaBowls, winning a championship with the Sharks at ArenaBowl XXIV in 2011 and earning Ironman of the Game honors with the Philadelphia Soul at ArenaBowl XXV in 2012. He returned to Jacksonville for the 2013 season and currently leads the undefeated Sharks with 47 receptions for 516 yards and nine touchdowns. The 2012 J. Lewis Small Ironman of the Year has also excelled as a kick return specialist, collecting a single-season franchise record 1,865 yards with the Soul last year. The three-time All-Ironman selection and newest member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaves the AFL having recorded triple-digit all-purpose yards in six consecutive games. For his career, Hughley has hauled in 326 passes for 3,946 yards and 78 touchdowns.
A former standout at Tennessee State University, Hills entered training camp with the Tennessee Titans in 2011, but was waived after suffering a knee injury during a drill in practice. This will be Hughley's first opportunity to compete at the NFL level.
Both receivers have been placed on the AFL's "Other League Exempt" list and their AFL rights remain with their respective teams.
Storm, VooDoo Square off on CBS Sports Network
Coming off perhaps the biggest win of the young Arena Football season, the Tampa Bay Storm (4-2) play host to the New Orleans VooDoo (1-4) in "NET10 Wireless Arena Football Saturday" action on CBS Sports Network. Kickoff from the Tampa Bay Times Forum is set for 9:00 p.m. ET on Saturday night.
The Storm will make their second straight appearance on "NET10 Wireless Arena Football Saturday," though this will mark the first time that the Tampa Bay Times Forum and its fanbase will get to host the CBS Sports Network showcase. Last week, the Storm provided a national audience with a back-and-forth upset victory, taking down the previously undefeated Spokane Shock, 70-62, at Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Storm bring one of the top quarterbacks in the League to the table. Adrian McPherson earned Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Week honors after accumulating 10 total touchdowns, with seven coming through the air and three coming on the ground, against Spokane. It marked the second time this season that McPherson has put up 10 touchdowns in a single game. Against the Shock, McPherson completed 21-of-36 passes for 310 yards without throwing an interception. He has thrown just one pick all season long - best in the League among quarterbacks with 50 or greater pass attempts. McPherson will be without his favorite target in Week 7, as receiver Joe Hills was placed on the League's "Other League Exempt" list after signing a contract with the NFL's Carolina Panthers on Thursday. Receivers Greg Ellingson and Michael Lindsey will look to fill the void.
Looking to keep McPherson and the rest of the Storm offense in check is a New Orleans defense led by defensive back Demarcus Robinson. Robinson has a team-high 29 tackles on the season. Pressure from the front will be pivotal as usual for New Orleans, as the VooDoo are tied for fourth in the League with nine sacks this season, including two apiece by Michael Janac and James Bryant.
On the other side of the line, the VooDoo will lean on recently acquired Bill Stull to lead the charge. The third-year pro was assigned to New Orleans on April 25 and completed 8-of-14 for 97 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in his first AFL action of the season last week. The team's opening day starter, Kurt Rocco, who set franchise records with 5,317 passing yards and 107 touchdowns last season, is expected to miss his second straight contest due to injury.
Stull will have his hands full with a Storm defense that has forced a League-high 20 turnovers this season, recovering 10 fumbles and notching 10 interceptions. They are on pace to force 60 turnovers this season, after finishing near the bottom of the League with a minus-10 turnover margin last year. Defensive back Chris Smith has led the way with four interceptions in the Storm's last five games. Not so coincidentally, the Storm have recorded multiple picks in four of their last five games.
Though the Storm lead the series 7-5, the two teams have split every year they have played with the exception of 2007, when the Storm swept the VooDoo.
Champions Professional Indoor Football League
Wild Aim for Sweep against Defenders
The Wichita Wild (7-1) will host the Oklahoma Defenders (2-5) on May 4th at Hartman Arena; kick-off scheduled for 7:05 p.m. The Defenders travel to Wichita for the second meeting between the two teams after their first encounter on March 9th that saw the Wild dominate the Defenders 70-26 in Tulsa. Wichita comes into Saturday's game fresh off an incredible 82-9 road victory over the Mid-Missouri Outlaws while the Defenders are looking to rebound after a 46-40 loss to the Lincoln Haymakers.
The last time the Wild and the Defenders met, Wichita played a near flawless game. The Wild only committed one penalty, intercepted one pass and recovered three fumbles. Rocky Hinds passed for six touchdowns, Tywon Hubbard scored three rushing touchdowns and Joe Kassanavoid added four catches for 124 yards and three touchdowns to lead an unstoppable Wild offense. Wichita took an early 13-0 lead and held the Defenders scoreless for most of the first quarter, until Oklahoma scored just before time expired in the first period for a Wild 13-7 advantage. From then on, the Wild controlled the game, scoring four touchdowns to Oklahoma's one in the second quarter, allowing a 40-13 lead into halftime. The third and fourth quarters were much the same as Wichita walked away with an easy 70-26 victory over the Defenders.
The Wild are returning home from a strong performance against their first encounter with the Mid-Missouri Outlaws. Wide receiver Joe Kassanavoid began the game with back to back touchdowns giving Wichita a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Wichita was able to keep their scoring momentum through the second quarter with running back Tywon Hubbard opening the quarter with two rushing touchdowns which was complimented by another touchdown and a field goal courtesy of Tim Simmons and Alex Fambrough, respectively to extend their advantage 38-0 over the Outlaws. With one second remaining in the half Mid-Missouri kicker Derek Doerfler connected on a 34 yard attempt to prevent an Outlaws shut out in the first half. Wichita continued to dominate in the second half, adding three defensive scores as a result of three consecutive interceptions and consequently setting a new CPIFL record for points in a game with 82, breaking their own record of 70 in the season opener. The Outlaws would convert on one touchdown midway through the fourth quarter for a final score of 82-9.
In Lincoln last Friday night, Oklahoma began with a slow start and fell behind early 14-0. Following the Haymakers second touchdown, Defender's wide receiver Jason Stephenson ignited Oklahoma with a 55 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The team would tie it up on a 19 yard pass from David Bowie to Patrick Jones. The Haymakers added another touchdown with just 32 seconds left in the first half to give Lincoln a 21-14 halftime lead. The two teams traded blows in the second half to keep the game close, but Lincoln would pull away from the Defenders on an 18 yard touchdown from running back David Ferris with six minutes remaining in the game. Oklahoma running back KingJack Washington had a great game with three touchdowns, but it was not enough to overcome the Haymakers as the Defenders fell 46-40 in the final.
If Oklahoma is able to move the ball against a stingy Wild defense, Saturday's matchup could be a high scoring game. The Defenders narrowly lead the CPIFL in yards per game over the Wild at 228.9 yards per game and top the league in total offense per game. Both teams are capable of putting a high number of points on the board, with Wichita averaging 52 points per game and Defenders 40. The Wild will have a clear advantage over the Defenders if their explosive defense can continue to force turnovers parlay them into points.
Player to Watch: Wide Receiver Joe Kassanavoid
Joe Kassanavoi d had a strong game against the Mid-Missouri Outlaws last week in Sedalia. Kassanavoid started the game with back to back touchdowns giving the Wild a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. He currently leads the Wild and the CPIFL with 14 receiving touchdowns on the season, just one more touchdown than teammate Tywon Hubbard. In their last meeting with the Defenders, Kassanavoid had four catches for 124 yards and three touchdowns. Look for the Wild to continue their high powered offense against the Defenders who rank second to last in scoring defense, allowing 48 points per game.
The Wild remain at Hartman Arena the following week, May 11th, to take on the Salina Bombers; kickoff scheduled for 7:05 p.m. (CST). In honor of KEYN Family night, the Wild is offering a Family Pack ticket special for $36 and includes 4 reserved level tickets, 4 hot dogs, and 4 drinks. The game can be heard on 1410 AM KGSO in the Wichita area or streamed live on kgso.com.
Professional Indoor Football League
Nighthawks getting ready for rematch against Louisiana
The Knoxville Nighthawks (2-5) will take on the Louisiana Swashbucklers (2-3) Saturday, May 4th at 7:00 pm EST at the Knoxville Civic Center Coliseum.
The Knoxville Nighthawks are preparing for their rematch against the Louisiana Swashbuckler after a big win over the Alabama Hammers. The Nighthawks beat the Hammers 53-51. Knoxville has been practicing at the Knoxville Civic Center Colesium in preparation for Saturday's game. We got a huge win last week and we want to build on that success. Louisiana had a great win against Columbus and put 77 point on the board. Our defense will need to be ready and our offense has to continue to improve. We look forward to playing at home on Saturday, said Head Coach Cosmo DeMatteo.
Some of the bright spots in last weeks game was new quarterback Ryan Porter who went 27-41 passing, which included 287 yard passing and four touchdowns. Deandre Brown scored two touchdowns, include the winning score, as well as 89 yards receiving. Kelvin Bolden had two touchdowns and 98 yards receiving. Armando Cuko was named the PIFL special teams player of the week for the second time this season for his performance against the Hammers.
This is the second of three meetings between the Nighthawks and Swashbucklers during the 2013 season. The final meeting between the two teams will be Friday, June 7th, at 7:30 pm at the Knoxville Civic Center Coliseum.
Bring (2) cans of food to the game and receive $2.00 off the price of tickets. Food donations will go to the Fish Hospitality Pantry of Knoxville.
Ultimate Indoor Football League
Raiders 4 Kids League Enters Playoffs this Saturday
The Raiders4Kids Youth Football League offers young Polk County football players a chance to play football the way the professionals do. And just like their heroes on the Lakeland Raiders, the Raiders4Kids players are playoff bound.
All four teams in each Division have new life as the regular season is in the rearview mirror and the playoffs are set to begin this Saturday, May 4th, at Jenkins Arena.
The early game, at 8:00 AM, features the 2nd and 3rd place teams in Division II, Polk City and Auburndale. Immediately following, at 9:15, 1st place Bartow takes on Lake Gibson.
Next up are the youngest players in the League. Division I features players ages 7-9. Lake Gibson will play against Bartow in the 2-3 Game at 10:30 followed by division-leading Polk City hosting Auburndale at 11:45.
After a break for lunch, the action resumes with the Division III games.
Lake Gibson takes on Auburndale at 1:30. The youth activities wrap up with the Polk City - Bartow game at 2:45.
The Raiders4Kids schedule will be over at that time, but the day's festivities will be far from over. At 7:30PM the Lakeland Raiders will host a long-awaited rematch against the undefeated Corpus Christi Fury. At stake is first place in the UIFL and a home playoff game.Don't miss your chance to support the kids and cheer on Lakeland's premier professional sports franchise as the Raiders charge toward the championship.