Conquest kickoff 2005 season on Friday in Green BayApril 6, 2005 - arenafootball2 (af2) Albany Firebirds
Albany and Green Bay have split games in their two meetings all-time. Both contests were held last season with Albany rolling to a 59-26 win on June 25 at Pepsi Arena and Green Bay topping the Conquest in a 49-47 thriller in Green Bay on July 9.
Albany will begin the season with many new faces on their roster and an experienced head coach at the helm in Richard Davis. Coach Davis has returned just four players from the 2004 Albany Conquest team that went 6-10 missing the playoffs for the first time in team history. Many of those new faces hail from top tier Division I schools, including three former Syracuse University players. With that pedigree of athlete on the squad, along with a solid core of players with af2 experience, the Conquest will be primed to kickoff the 2005 season on a winning note.
Conquest Go Orange: The Albany Conquest have tapped into the major Division I school in the New York State by adding three Syracuse University players to the team roster. Offensive specialist Jamel Riddle, along with fullback/linebackers Jameel Dumas and Jose Harris are have made the jump to arenafootball2 following standout careers in the Big East. Riddle was a 2nd Team All Big-East selection in 2002, while Dumas amassed 179 tackles during his stellar career at SU earning him All-America honors. Riddle, Dumas, and Harris are three of the 13 Division I players on the Conquest roster.
D. holds two meanings in Albany: Albany Conquest fans witnessed the emergence of quarterback D. Bryant during the 2004 season. The former Duke University QB threw 52 TD passes, while totaling 2,953 yards through the air in his rookie af2 season - and all of that in just 13 games as a starter. While fans are eagerly awaiting D. Bryant to help lead Albanys offensive attack, it is the other D. that will likely have the most notable upgrade from 2004.
The Conquests defense was 19th among 25 teams in 2004. That is a statistical category that is likely to skew much heavier in the Conquests favor in 2005. Returnee Travis Coleman spent some of the off-season in training camp with the AFLs Chicago Rush only to be released on the final day of camp. However, the Rushs loss is the Conquests gain because Coleman was third in af2 in passes defended last season with 33, including four interceptions. Helping Coleman in the defensive backfield will be second year af2 veteran Donte Wells, along with rookies Pete McBride (Temple), Drakus Langford (Nevada) and Tony Akins (NE Louisiana).
While the members of the Conquest secondary seem steadfast in their desire to shut down opposing receivers, it is the pass rush that will likely rattle opposing offensive schemes. The Conquest totaled just 14 sacks in 2004, but there are all new faces on the line this year and this group is poised to create havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Among this group is af2 veteran Karleton Thomas (University of Illinois) who totaled nine tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks last season for the Rio Grande Valley Dorados.
315-pounds: That is the average weight of the Albany Conquest offensive/defensive linemen. Lineman and height/weight are as follows: Maurice Bowers (6-1, 305), David Dean (6-6, 300), Keron Lucius (6-4, 285), Jose Portillo (6-4, 317), Karleton Thomas (6-5, 285), and Ricardo Dyson (6-4, 385).
Fearsome foursome: While the air attack is often the weapon of choice in Arena Football, the Albany Conquest should be a force on the ground as well at the FB/LB position. Jose Harris, Oby Arah, Jameel Dumas, and Shaka Hill are Albanys own fearsome foursome.
Familiar Faces: Former Albany Conquest lineman Nick Anderson will lineup on Green Bays side of the ball when his previous team enters town for a Friday evening game. Anderson, who played for the Conquest in 2003 and 2004, is entering his first season with Green Bay.
College Teammates: Two sets of college teammates will lineup against each other on Friday evening when the Albany Conquest and the Green Bay Blizzard meet at The Resch Center. Memphis grads Shaka Hill (Albany FB/LB) and Chris Eggleston (Green Bay OL/DL), along with New Mexico State alums Manwell Talbert (Albany WR/LB) and Robert Garth (Green Bay WR/LB) will reunite to battle for bragging rights.
Conquest Defense vs. Blizzard Offense: The Green Bay Blizzard will have a new signal caller this season in QB Johnny Turman. A former University of Pittsburgh quarterback and the 2003 af2 rookie of the year with the Charleston Swamp Foxes, Turman is expected to make an immediate impact for Green Bay. Turman, who was with the AFLs Indiana Firebirds in 2004, will have a couple Blizzard returnees to throw to, including WR/LB Robert Garth (78 receptions, 956, 26 TD) and WR/DB Torrey Day (32 receptions, 484 receiving yards, 7 TD).
The Conquests upgraded defense will get an early test in how well they are able to get to the passer. The Mack linebacker play of the Conquest should be noticeably improved with the additions of Syracuse rookies Jose Harris and Jameel Dumas, along with Shaka Hill (Memphis), and Oby Arah (Howard University). Rookie Keron Lucius (Fordham University), who led the Patriot League with nine sacks in 2002, should find paths to the QB on Friday evening. A strong pass rush along with Albany lineman Davis Dean, Maurice Bowers, and Jose Portillo disrupting passing lanes should be enough to keep Green Bays veteran QB in check.
Conquest offense vs. Blizzard Defense: Tony Locke, who established numerous receiving records for the Albany Conquest in 2004, is now making his presence felt in the Arena Football League with the Los Angeles Avengers. Although they will be without their star offensive specialist from 2004, the Conquest hope another star will shine this season when former All Big-East selection, Jamel Riddle, makes his debut with Albany. D. Bryant, now entering his second year behind center with the Conquest, should have plenty of options in addition to Riddle. Returnee Cy Butler, a quick and shifty WR/DB who had joined the Conquest at the midway point last season, totaled 30 catches for 394 yards with six TD in just nine games. In addition, league veteran Jeff Higgins will return after catching 50 passes for 560 yards and five TD in 2004. Albany newcomer Manwell Talbert, who had a breakthrough year last season with the Rio Grande Valley Dorados totaling 70 catches for 843 yards and 20 TD, should supply added firepower.
Albany will, however, have to keep the ball away from Green Bay WR/LB Robert Garth, who had four interceptions last season, including a pick against the Conquest on July 9 in Green Bay. Garth also led the team with 41 tackles. In addition, FB/LB Dustin Sagedahl, who had 21 tackles to go along with a sack in 2004, will be looking to swarm to Albany ball carriers.
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