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Albany Looks to Make it Three-Straight Wins Vs. Manchester

May 13, 2009 - arenafootball2 (af2) Albany Firebirds

2009 Record:

2-5 (1-2 Home, 1-3 Road) - Streak: Won 2 - Third Place, East Division, American Conference

The Stakes

The Firebirds rattled-off back-to-back wins in Week 6 and 7 and now look to make it three-in-a-row since quarterback Stephen Wasil's return from the IR. Last week the Firebirds headed to Bossier City for their farthest road trip of the season and turned in a 54-41 victory over the Battle Wings. Wasil scored a touchdown on every offensive drive of the game until his final clock-killing fourth quarter possession. Manchester is coming off of two close losses to division-leading teams. In Week 6 the Wolves kept-pace with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for most of the game, but the Pioneers edged-out a 53-50 home win. Last week was an even tighter contest for the Wolves, as they dropped a 50-48 decision at home to Quad City.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

QB Stephen Wasil has earned the Offensive Player of the Game award in both contests since his return from a five-week stint on the IR. Last week the second-year signal-caller threw for a Firebirds season-high 302 yards with six touchdowns and added two scores on the ground.

Week 7 ar2 Iron Man Christian Wise returned to action last week after missing Week 6 due to injury. The receiver tallied a Firebirds season-high 190 receiving yards with three touchdowns and also saw extended action at defensive back, where he caught a game-changing third quarter interception good for defensive player of the game honors. Wise almost never left the field, as he was the team's primary kickoff return-man as well. On the year Wise ranks 6th in the league in both all purpose yards per game (179.2) and receiving yards per game (128.3) during the 2009 season.

WR/LB Alvin Ray Jackson caught three touchdown passes last week to tie Wise for the team lead with eight on the season. Jackson's two defensive touchdowns this season allow him to rank first on the team in scoring with 60 points. Jackson also recorded five tackles and an interception last week; he now ranks second on the team with 25 tackles this season and his two interceptions lead all Firebirds.

DB Jamel Ramsay lead all Albany defenders with seven tackles in Week 7. Ramsay has only played in two games with the Firebirds, but he already ranks sixth on the team with 11.5 total tackles. DE David Tash has recorded a sack and forced fumble in two-straight contests. The pass rusher ranks just behind Ramsay with 10.5 tackles in just four games with Albany this season.

LB/DB Malik Jackson saw his first action in a Firebirds uniform last week and recorded a team-high three pass break-ups and four tackles. Jackson was not listed as a starter, but saw plenty of action as the primary back-up for all five positions in the defensive backfield.

Week 8 Preview:

A win would bring the Firebirds to within a half game of the second place Wolves in the East Division. Albany played Manchester close on the road in Week 4, taking a 14-0 lead to start the contest and holding the lead at halftime, before stalling in the second half. The Wolves will be hungry after losing consecutive games by margins of two and three points against division leaders Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Quad City.

Week 8 Schedule:

All games are broadcast LIVE on af2TV free streaming video at www.albanyfirebirds.com

Saturday, May 16th - 1:00 pm - Times Union Center - Albany, NY

vs. Manchester Wolves (3-3)

- This is the 24th all-time match-up between Albany and Manchester and the second of four meetings in 2009. The Wolves lead the all-time series 15-8 and took the 2008 season series 3-1. The Firebirds lost 74-53 to the Wolves in Week 4 on April 18th and the clubs meet in Manchester on June 5th in a Week 11 match-up and finally in Albany on July 11th in Week 16.

- Leading Passer: QB - James Pinkney - (120-195-5, 1543yds, 30TD)

- Leading Rusher: FB - Paul Jefferson - (24att-114yds-3TD)

- Leading Receivers: Emery Sammons - (42rec-631yds-12TD), Steve Savoy - (35rec-406yds-10TD), Jason Messing - (18rec-209yds-5TD)

Firebirds Pecks:

- Iron Men: WR/LB Alvin Ray Jackson has been a key two-way player for the Firebirds all season long and last week WR/DB Christian Wise got in on the act too. Each playmaker caught three receiving touchdowns and recorded an interception against the Battle Wings. Wise entered the league last season as a defensive back and, when asked if he would ever have to choose between the positions, admitted that he was a defensive player at heart. Wise received the af2's JLS Ironman of the Week honors for Week 7.

- Bednarik Splits-Out: Quarterback Adam Bednarik played a series at Wide Receiver last week when Christian Wise and Johnnie Butler missed time with injuries. Wise returned to action after a few plays and Bednarik did not see a ball thrown his way. This week Bednarik took occasional reps at WR and impressed onlookers with several catches, including one spectacular one-handed lay-out.

- Birds in the Community: This Week OL Tim Johnson and DB Patrick Horne visited Columbia High School and Shaker High School with US Marines to work out with students and promote fitness. Spike spent the weekend at Albany's Tulip Fest in Washington Park and will head to the Race for Education this Friday at Holy Cross School.

- Injury Watch: Last week WR Johnnie Butler and DB Lawrence Wade exited the game due to injury. Both players statuses for Week 8 vs. Manchester are uncertain. LB Rob Wright was activated from IR last week, but did not make the trip to Bossier City; he iss expected to play this weekend for the first time since suffering a lower body injury in the first quarter of the season opener. C Junior Ramos is also expected to return to action this week.

East Division Standings:

(AMERICAN CONFERENCE)

Team W L PCT Home Road Streak

WB/Scranton 6 1 0.857 4-0 2-1 W4

Manchester 3 3 0.500 2-1 1-2 L2

Albany 2 5 0.286 1-2 1-3 W2

Mahoning Valley 1 6 0.143 1-3 0-3 L6

The Albany Firebirds 2009 season is underway and their next home game is set for Saturday, May 16 against the Manchester Wolves in a 1:00 p.m. kickoff at the Times Union Center. Partial season ticket packages are now on sale; for more information please contact the Firebirds at (518) 487-2244 or online at www.albanyfirebirds.com.

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