A Handful Of Wolves Should Get An AFL Look For 2008
The Manchester Wolves (10-7) were 00.8 seconds away from preparing for their third consecutive trip to the second-round of the American Conference playoffs under head coach Ben Bennett, but now for some Wolves aspirations of playing in the Arena Football League fill their minds.
The two most notable Wolves that come to the forefront are six-year veteran DB Allistair Sebastien and rookie OL/DL Maurice Fountain, players who both set new Wolves franchise records in 2007. Sebastien (6'0, 200), put in another solid season as a Wolf as he led the team in tackles ( 88.5), interceptions (7), pass breakups (12) and fumble recoveries (3). The New York native's seven interceptions were a new Wolves single-season record, he also holds Wolves career records in tackles (342.5) and interceptions (28). Fountain (6'4, 260), made one of the biggest rookie impacts the Wolves have ever seen in the franchise's existence with his team-leading 16.0 tackles for loss (5th in the af2), 13.0 sacks (4th in the af2), 10.0 quarterback hurries and one safety. The South Carolina native, who came to Manchester from Clemson University, set a new Wolves single-season record with his 13.0 sacks - a record that was set in 2003 by Charlie Cook, who ended up playing three years in the AFL (2004-2006) before having to sit out due to injury this season.
Seven other Wolves most likely to get looks from AFL teams are: three-year veteran DB Deon Giddens, rookie DB Travis Pugh, three-year veteran WR/DB David Bailey, rookie WR Pat Rouzard, two-year veteran WR Ari Confesor, three-year veteran OL/DL Jimmy Williams and four-year veteran OL/DL Darnerius Watson.
Giddens (5'10, 184), joined the Wolves during Week 11 and immediately made his presence felt as Manchester won six of their next seven regular season games. In just seven games for the Wolves he collected 43.5 tackles (5th on the team), five interceptions (2nd on the team), eight pass breakups (tied-2 nd on the team) and two forced fumbles (tied-1st on the team). The Tennessee native also set a new Wolves single-game record, along with tying the af2 record, with his four interceptions against the Albany Conquest on July 21 which earned him Week 17's ADT Defensive Player of the Week Award.
Pugh (6'1, 195), came to the Manchester from Clemson University and started right away for the Wolves in the secondary. In 13 games he tallied 57.5 tackles (3rd on the team), four interceptions (3rd on the team), eight pass breakups (tied-2 nd on the team) and two forced fumbles (tied -1st on the team). The South Carolina native, known for his bone-breaking tackles, earned Week 16's ADT Defensive Player of the Week Award thanks to his seven-tackle, two forced fumble and one pass breakup performance in the Wolves upset victory over the previously undefeated Wilkes-Barre Scranton Pioneers on July 13.
Bailey (5'8, 170), was the Wolves ultimate "Ironman" in 2007 as he led Manchester with five U.S. Army Ironman of the Game Awards. The New York native, who is a natural wide receiver, was forced to play defensive back for the majority of the first-half of the season due to injuries in the Wolves secondary. In 13 games defensively he collected 58.0 tackles (2nd on the team), two interceptions (4th on the team), eight pass breakups (tied-2nd on the team) and one fumble recovery. In 12 games offensively he caught 58 passes (4 th on the team) for 642 yards (3rd on the team) and nine touchdowns (4th on the team). The versatile speedster also returned 28 kicks for 487 yards and one touchdown.
Rouzard (6'3, 200), put in a solid season offensively for the Wolves at the wide receiver position during his rookie season. In 16 games for Manchester he hauled in 105 passes (2nd on the team), 1169 yards (2nd on the team) and 31 touchdowns (1st on the team). The Florida native twice earned the Schutt Offensive Player of the Game and Cutters Catch of the Game Awards.
Confesor (5'11, 175), completed his first full season with the Wolves and didn't disappoint anyone. In 16 games for Manchester he collected a team-high 107 passes and 1290 yards for 30 touchdowns (2nd on the team). "Mr. Excitement", dubbed by his teammates at Holy Cross, also returned 24 kicks for 421 yards. The Rhode Island native earned the Schutt Offensive Player of the Game Award twice this season.
Williams (6'3, 315), is a rare lineman in the af2 that's capable of dominating both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The California native was a big part of the offensive line that only gave up 12 sacks on the season (3rd overall in the af2). In limited defensive play he tallied six tackles, 0.5 sacks, two pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and a team-high three blocked kicks.
Watson (6'2, 300), put together his first complete 16-game season for Wolves, where he once again helped to solidify one of the strongest offensive lines in the league. The Texas native collected 6.5 tackles, one interception, two pass breakups, two quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. Thanks in much part to Watson's presence the Wolves have ranked #1 (2006, just five sacks) and #3 (2007, just 12 sacks) in the af2 in the sacks against category.
"We have several players who should get a really good look from AFL teams," said Bennett. "I think Ari and Mo have a chance to be impact players right away."
Since Bennett came to the Wolves in 2005 he has promoted eleven of his players to either the CFL, NFL or AFL ranks. Those players include: William Haith (AFL), Jake Eaton (AFL), Nick Myers (AFL), Derham Cato (CFL, AFL), J.J. McKelvey (AFL), Steve Bellisari (AFL), Wendall Williams (AFL), Jamaal Perry (CFL), Carter Warley (NFL, AFL), Steve Gonzalez (AFL) and Brian Mance (AFL).
"As is the case every year, we will have to replace some quality players but we're always happy to see our guys move up," added Bennett on his placement of af2 players to the AFL.
Don't forget to renew your season tickets for another exciting season of Manchester Wolves football in 2008! For information on season tickets, or merchandise, fans can contact the Wolves at 603.627.WOLF (9653) or visit them on the web at www.manchesterwolves.com.
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