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af2 week 13 Friday night matchups

June 23, 2005 - arenafootball2 (af2) News Release

WEEK 13: FRIDAY NIGHT MATCHUPS

QUAD CITY STEAMWHEELERS (5-6) AT MANCHESTER WOLVES (10-1)

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2005 - VERIZON WIRELESS ARENA (9,650) 7:30 P.M. ET

The Manchester Wolves, the number one team on the af2 Coaches Poll, host the Quad City Steamwheelers Friday night. The Wolves have to be feeling good. Last week they went down to Florida and defeated the Firecats 52-29 do avenge their only loss on the season, a 26-32 overtime defeat in the season opener. The win over Florida not only avenged their only loss of the season but also put them in the top spot in the American Conference, as Florida now has two losses. It also gave head coach BEN BENNETT a victory in his homecoming in Florida. Now instead of being the underdog against the former champion Firecats, the Wolves have the target on them. At 5-6 the Steamwheelers would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, but to stay there they need to keep winning. Quad City has more talent than their record indicates as the result of a string of close losses. Quarterback SAM CLEMONS ranks fourth in the league in quarterback rating with a 114.9 mark. He had a big game last week, throwing for 287 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions on 19-of-28 passing. His numbers earned him Offensive Player of the Week honors. It's a lot easier to put up those numbers when looking at the receiving corps. Five 'Wheelers have 25 or more catches. Four receives have 10 or more touchdowns. JACK WALKER is third on the team in receiving, and he holds the record for touchdown receptions in a season when he caught 45 with Peoria in 2003. The Wolves' J.J. MCKELVEY is on track to grab 46 touchdown passes and break Walker's record. With JAKE EATON on pace to set records in completion percentage and passer rating the Jake to J.J. connection is one the Steamwheelers will need to look out for.

LOUISVILLE FIRE (6-5) AT ALBANY CONQUEST (3-8)

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2005 - PEPSI ARENA (13,901) 7:30 P.M. ET

In an East Division contest the Louisville Fire travel to Albany, New York to face the Conquest. Louisville is coming off of a close 46-59 loss to division rival Green Bay at home last week. Sitting at 6-5 Louisville needs to keep pace with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Green Bay in the East Division. The Conquest sit at 3-8, but in the playoff picture. Macon currently holds the final spot with a 5-6 record, but the Conquest beat Macon earlier in the season meaning they just need to tie Macon and they would then win the tiebreaker and make the playoffs. Albany has two of the best receivers in the East Division with MANWEL TALBERT and JEREMIAH POPE. Both plays have caught a touchdown in every game they have played with Talbert leading the team in touchdown catches (21) and receiving yards (976). Pope leads the team in receptions with 71, impressive considering he has only played nine games. Louisville has one of the best receivers in the entire league. ROB MAGER has busted on the af2 scene in a big way. His 92 receptions rank second in the league and his 29 touchdown receptions rank fourth. He compliments an offense filled with veteran players like MATT SAUK and LAWRENCE MATTHEWS. The Fire defense is truly a team defense. Nine different players have recorded an interception, 12 different players have recovered a fumble and 13 players have recorded at least an assisted tackle for a loss. The first meeting between these two clubs went to overtime with Louisville winning 62-55. The game winning score was a DEMETRIUS FORNEY 20-yard touchdown run.

BIRMINGHAM STEELDOGS (1-10) AT GREEN BAY BLIZZARD (7-4)

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2005 - RESCH CENTER (7,995) 8:00 P.M. ET

The Green Bay Blizzard play with a playoff berth on the line as they host the Birmingham Steeldogs. A Green Bay victory combined with an Albany loss to Louisville and the Blizzard will have their first playoff berth in franchise history. Green Bay has made some changes to their receiving corps and they are still producing solid numbers. They let go leading receiver TROY MASON to allow BRENT HOLMES and LANCE TAYLOR the chance to get more playing time, and it has paid off. Holmes caught three touchdowns last week against Louisville and Taylor caught three touchdowns the week before against Manchester. It doesn't matter who the receivers are as JOHNNY TURMAN has got the ball to them. The Blizzard defense is led by RYAN BOWERS' 69.5 tackles (58UA-23AT) (fifth in the league) and eight interceptions (third in the league). As a team the Blizzard has intercepted 21 passes, second best in the league. Their +11 turnover margin is third best in the league. The defense has registered 16 sacks while giving up only eight. Green Bay also has one of the best kickers in the league. Of kickers with a minimum of 50 attempts, HENRIK JUUL-NIELSEN leads the league in extra point conversions, making 84.1% (58-69) of his attempts. Looking at Birmingham, Bowers will need to be sure DETRONN HARRIS doesn't single handedly beat the Blizzard. On the season Harris has 81 catches for 990 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has also returned 50 kickoffs for 991 yards and four touchdowns with an average return of 19.4 yards. The Steeldogs beat Green Bay earlier this season, 55-26 and shut out Green Bay the entire second half.

MEMPHIS XPLORERS (10-1) AT OKLAHOMA CITY YARD DAWGZ (6-5)

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2005 - FORD CENTER (17,884) 8:30 P.M. ET

With quarterback BRIAN JONES out due to injury, the Memphis Xplorers travel to Oklahoma City to face the Yard Dawgz at the Ford Center. Taking over for Jones under center is a familiar face to Xplorers fans. Last year's starter MICHAEL WALL returns to take over for Jones. Last season Jones began the season as the starter and then Wall was brought in from Tulsa and never gave the job back to Jones. With Jones having one of the best seasons in the league chances are that will not happen again. Wall finished last season 239-of-384 for 3,196 yards and 73 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He led the Xplorers to their first playoff appearance and had the Florida Firecats on the ropes in the first round, but they couldn't connect on a short field goal late in the game to win and the Firecats went on to win the 2004 ArenaCup. Not new for the Xplorers on defense is DAHNEL SINGFIELD. Last week against Birmingham Singfield picked off two passes and broke up ten passes to earn ADT Defensive Player of the Week honors. He will be going up against af2's all-time leading passer CRAIG STRICKLAND. Despite their loss to Bossier-Shreveport last week he has the Yard Dawgz playing well. They are one game behind Amarillo and Rio Grande Valley for third place in the National Conference. Oklahoma City would like to move up one spot so they could earn a home playoff game. These two clubs played in Week 6, one week after Memphis suffered their only loss of the season. The Xplorers won 43-38 after running out the final 3:12 on the clock.

CENTRAL VALLEY COYOTES (5-6) AT BAKERSFIELD BLITZ (4-7)

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2005 - RABOBANK ARENA (9,000) 10:00 P.M. ET

The Bakersfield Blitz host the Central Valley Coyotes in the first of back-to-back meetings. The Blitz host the contest this week with next week being a league wide bye and the week after these two clubs playing in Central Valley. The Coyotes need a win to climb back into the playoff picture. Last week Central Valley went on the road and lost to the Rio Grande Valley Dorados 36-55 and fell below .500 for the first time this season. These two clubs have met twice this season with the Coyotes winning both contests, 40-21 and 33-20. Central Valley's JUSTON WOOD has a live arm and has put up big numbers this season. He leads the best red zone offense in the league as the Coyotes have scored on 42-of-47 chances in the red zone. They will be going up against one of the best defenses in the league. The Blitz are tied for the best red zone defense, giving up points on only 32-of-46 (69.6%) opponent drives into the red zone. Overall, the Blitz allow only 41.1 points per game, fourth best in the league. Especially talented is their pass defense, giving up only 196.5 yards through the air per game, second best in the league. Also, the average passing rating against the Blitz is 79.4, second best for a defense in the league. As a team they are tied for sixth in the league with 13 interceptions. DS ALEX WALLACE is tied for the league lead in interceptions with nine. On offense, quarterback JASON THOMAS ranks second in the league in rushing yards with 237.

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