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Admirals Look to Keep Hopes Alive Versus Claymores

May 21, 2003 - National Football League Europa (NFLE) - Amsterdam Admirals News Release

At 3-4, both the Amsterdam Admirals and the Scottish Claymores are still very much alive for a World Bowl berth, but every game becomes increasingly important as the final standings start to come together.

After a dramatic victory last week in Frankfurt, Amsterdam is hoping to carry over some momentum as they face the Claymores for the first time. The Admirals are hoping to keep their successful airial attack going as they lead the league in nearly all passing categories. Quarterback Shaun Hill tops the league in completions with 148 and yards with 1470. Hill was also voted Offensive Player of the Week last week, after throwing for 274 yards including a last second touchdown to wide receiver Matthew Hatchette.

In addition to being the game-winning receiver, Hatchette has put up incredible numbers this season. He already has 45 receptions, 15 more than anyone else in the league, and only six catches away from an Admiral record. He also has the most yardage of any receiver in the league with 545 yards, more than 100 yards ahead of the nearest competition. Hatchette also had his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game last week, the first in Admiral history and tying an NFL Europe record.

Right behind Hatchette in receptions, is tight end Kirk McMullen with 30. He ranks second in the league and contributed last week with six catches in Frankfurt. Justin Skaggs has 29 catches for the season, putting himself in fourth place in the league.

In addition to the excitement of a pass-oriented offense, this season has offered many close, dramatic games for the Admirals. Last week’s win was the sixth close game of the Admirals season. With the exception of their 17-35 loss in Barcelona, Amsterdam’s games have been decided by no more than seven points, with the average margin of 3.8 points per game.

LAST WEEK: LAST SECOND HEROICS After two weeks of disappointing nail-biting losses, the Admirals put their fans through another dramatic game, this time coming out ahead. Last week in Frankfurt, the offense started out strong, scoring a touchdown on their first possession with a five yard run up the middle by running back Raymonn Adams. The defense came back and held strong as the Frankfurt offense tested them by going for it on fourth down twice in one series. Although Amsterdam allowed them to convert once, on the second try, the defense held strong and got the ball back into the hands of the Admirals offense. Both sides of the ball continued to play strong for the entire first half, the offense put 17 points on the board, and the defense held Frankfurt to only 10, getting an interception and a forced fumble in the process.

In the third quarter, the offense sputtered, as has been the pattern this season, despite having a fresh quarterback at the reigns. David Priestley could not engineer a scoring drive during his 15 minutes of playing time, but the defense did not allow any points, leaving Admirals with a seven point lead going into the final quarter. Hill returned to the line-up in the fourth quarter and drove the offense down the field for a field goal, extending their lead to 10 and burning 10 minutes off the clock.

Frankfurt would not give up easily, and came back to score a touchdown with two and a half minutes remaining. Their onside kick attempt was unsuccessful as Amsterdam wide receiver Justin Skaggs came down with the ball at midfield. The game looked perfectly in control and it appeared that finally, the Admirals would not be in a down-to-the-wire match up. But the offense failed to convert a first down and was forced to punt with just under two minutes remaining. As the Amsterdam sideline watched in horror, Frankfurt’s Robert Baker returned the punt for a touchdown, destroying the Admirals lead and forcing the offense to come back on the field, down by four, to try to pull this one out.

With a minute and a half left in the game, the offense came out on the field determined to score. Hill calmly stepped back and launched each ball. He has assisted by two crucial pass interference penalties on Frankfurt, which helped put the ball on the six-yard line with thirty seconds to go. In classic cardiac fashion, the Admirals did not score on first, second, or third down and Hill waited until fourth down with one second on the clock to connect with wide receiver Matthew Hatchette in the back of the end zone.

After the game, players and coaches were ecstatic, but nobody admitted ever not being confident that Amsterdam would be victorious. “Our guys showed tremendous poise and never gave up hope that they could get it done,” head coach Bart Andrus said after the game.

TEAM NOTES

· Although it is week eight of the season, it will be the first meeting of these two teams, including training camp. Their scheduled scrimmage in Tampa was cancelled due to rain.

· Joining the team on the return trip to from Frankfurt were newly acquired OL Joey Slaten and former Admirals LB Pernell Griffin. Both were added to Amsterdam’s roster from the Galaxy. Linebacker Mawuko Tugbenyoh was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.

· A group of Admirals will be facing former teammates this week. Offensive linemen Joey Slaten and Jeff Grzeskowiak spent training camp with the Claymores. Quarterback David Priestley spent the first three weeks and defensive back Keon Moore, the first four weeks of the season on the Scottish roster. Punter Jeff Crowell joined the Admirals in trainingcamp, after having spent the first week with the squad of Gene Dahlquist.

PROFILE

SHAUN HILL: GRACE UNDER PRESSURE

QB LEADS SECOND COMEBACK AGAINST FRANKFURT

Coming into the final three weeks of the regular NFLE season, Shaun Hill is picking up steam and showing that he has what it takes to run a successful offense, particular in last minute situations. Hill earned himself his second Offensive Player of the Week honor last week with another comeback victory against Frankfurt.

“I feel pretty lucky to get that honor,” Hill said when learning of his award. “A lot of people put up some pretty good numbers last week. I really though Hatchette would get it. I feel honored to get it, for the second time, both of them against Frankfurt. I wish we could play them more. Now I’ll have to step it up against some other teams.”

He is excited about the recognition, but more concerned with the results that he is getting on the field. “I’d like to just win,” Hill said about his goals for the rest of the season. “I think the main thing they look for in quarterbacks is that they can win. I’d like to get in that World Bowl and see what happens.”

At 3-4, the Admirals are still in a position to make a run at the Championship. But they need to continue to bring in the wins like they did last Saturday in Frankfurt. If they continue to bring every game down to the wire like that, the Admirals sure will have the attention of everyone watching. “I really like those situations,” Hill revealed. “People always talk about pressure situations. I’ve never once felt pressure in those situations. I’ve felt so relaxed, so confident.” “I really like those two-minute situations where you stand back in the shotgun and you get to look at the whole field. You can get in a rhythm. You don’t huddle. You’re running a different play every 20 seconds or so, you just get in such a rhythm as a quarterback.”

That confidence is one reason why Hill ventured over to Europe. He spent last season on the Minnesota Vikings roster, but hasn’t seen any game action since the pre-season. Coming over here has allowed him to learn and execute an offense and get extensive playing time, which is the best way to improve.

“I think I’ve learned that I can play at this level,” Hill stated. “It’s given me more confidence. I’ve learned more just from experience and trial and error. The amount of stuff I have learned is pretty much endless. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a starting quarterback. The whole experience of it is just what I needed.”

In addition to the experience that Hill has gotten on the field, he has also taken advantage of his unique surroundings. On his days off, he has already traveled to Paris, Belgium, Rodderdam and other Dutch villages. He understands that football is the first priority for him, but he is careful not to squander the life opportunity that he’s been given.

“I’m just trying to take in the whole experience, not just the football side of it,” Hill admitted. “I do as much traveling as I can but at the same time stay focused on football, that has to be the number one objective. From there, I’m just enjoying myself over here, it’s a good experience.”

He is also forging friendships and creating relationships with the players he’s been living with for months now. Some of those relationships are obvious on the football field, like the way he always seems to find wide receiver Matthew Hatchette when they need a big play.

“I know where he’s going to be,” Hill said of Hatchette. “We very rarely misread each other and I can always count on him to get open. And then when he does get open, he’s making the play for me. I have so much confidence in him and I think he has confidence in me and that helps us click.”

Although Hill is just 23 years old, with only one year of experience under his belt, he has found it easy to become a leader on this team, even to veterans like Hatchette. He recognizes that being the quarterback means being the leader, regardless of age. “It’s something that comes with being the quarterback,” Hill stated. “I really haven’t thought about the age difference at all. I just know that when I’m on the field, I’m in control and I always feel in control. That’s hopefully how I come across and it doesn’t matter how old I am, or how much younger I am than the other players.”

As the season winds down and the pressure to win every game starts to build, Hill will be tested to see just how well he can lead this team. If this past game is any indication, he will do just fine under the pressure.

INJURY REPORT

OUT: G Mike Collins (quad) (IR), OL Michael Jonsson (knee) (IR), S Than Merrill (knee) (IR), QB David Rivers (knee) (IR), LB Mawuko Tugbenyoh (knee) (IR)

DOUBTFUL: DE Maurice Anderson (illness)

QUESTIONABLE: K Silvio Diliberto (hamstring), OG Rob Gatrell (calf), RB Johnathan Reese (illness)

PROBABLE: DE Mike Cecere (calf), OG Thomas Moody (knee), DB Keon Moore (knee), DT Scott Pospisil (foot), TE Yoan Schnee (patella)

TELEVISION

Saturday’s contest will be broadcast in the United States on Fox Sports Net live at 1pm EST. In the broadcast booth with play-by-play announcer DAVE PASCH is New York Giants kick returner BRIAN MITCHELL.

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National Football League Europa Stories from May 21, 2003


The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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