af2 week one quick hitters
March 30, 2007 - arenafootball2 (af2) News Release
A FEW NEW RULES APPLY: The arenafootball2 league (af2) has agreed to implement several rule changes that were approved by the Arena Football League's Board of Directors. The adopted changes will take effect for the 2007 af2 season. The most notable change is the introduction of free substitution. Previously, AFL/af2 coaches were limited to one substitution per position per quarter. Beginning this season, coaches will be permitted to substitute players at will. Free substitution will improve the af2's overall quality of football. The new rule provides coaches with the freedom to put their best players on the field for every play of the game. Because players will receive more rest than ever before, the new rule is also expected to decrease penalties, particularly late in the game. In addition, teams are also able to select from a wider player talent pool when building their teams. Another noticeable change is the removal of defensive coaches from the field and allowing only offensive coaches on the field during the game. In past seasons, one defensive coach per team was allowed on the field of play during game action. Last season coaches were not allowed on the field for special teams plays as a pilot program to this year's rule change. Additional changes approved for the 2007 season are: 1.) "Box Rule" Markings: Field markings will be instituted to provide the officials with a point of reference to aid in enforcing the "Box Rule," which restricts the movement of the "Jack" linebacker until the ball is thrown or the quarterback scrambles out of the pocket, and 2.) Injured Reserve: If a team puts a player on Injured Reserve, the player will be out for four weeks instead of two. These rule changes for the league are necessary as the af2 continues to serve as the developmental league of the AFL.
af2 ALUMNI SWEEP AFL PLAYER OF THE MONTH HONORS: On Wednesday, the Arena Football League handed out its monthly awards for the first month (March) of their 2007 season and all five players are alumni of the af2. Georgia Force QB CHRIS GREISEN (via af2's Green Bay Blizzard), Chicago Rush DL E.J. BURT (via af2's Cape Fear Wildcats), Dallas Desperados WR/DB WILL PETTIS (via af2's Pensacola Barracudas), Kansas City Brigade WR/DB CHARLES FREDERICK (via af2's Spokane Shock), and Austin Wranglers K MARK LEWIS (via af2's Tennessee Valley Vipers) have been named Offensive Player, ADT Defensive Player, Ironman, Rookie, and Kicker of the Month, respectively, for the month of March. Greisen helped set a League record as the Force became the first team in AFL history to score 60+ points in each of their first four games of the season. Greisen has completed 93-of-122 passes for 1,174 yards with a League leading 30 touchdowns. He is also tied with the second-highest touchdown performance of the season (9) in Week 1, when he earned Player of the Week honors to open up the season. The Force (4-0) are tied for the best record in the AFL. Burt is tied for the League lead in sacks with 4.0 and leads the League in forced fumbles with four. Two of his forced fumbles have led to touchdowns. His nine tackles are tied for fifth on the team and he also has one pass defensed. The Rush are 3-1. Pettis, who was also voted Ironman of the Week for his Week 4 efforts against the Orlando Predators, has totaled 33 receptions for 358 yards and 12 TDs in March. He has rushed for 13 yards on seven carries with one touchdown, and has amassed 342 return yards with two touchdowns. On defense, he has registered 15.5 tackles, one tackle for loss, and two passes defensed for the undefeated and Eastern Division leading Desperados (4-0). Frederick has been impressive since his Week 1 debut where he rushed for 59 yards on eight carries with three touchdowns. His Week 1 mark of 59 yards stands as the highest single-game rushing performance of the season and his total of 74 rushing yards on 20 carries with six touchdowns ranks first among rookies in yards and attempts. Frederick also leads the Brigade (1-2) in receiving with 25 receptions for 305 yards with four touchdowns, making him the only player in the AFL to lead their team in both rushing and receiving. Lewis has connected on 25-of-26 PATs this season and leads all kickers in scoring with 43 points. Lewis, in his fourth AFL season, has also converted six of his nine field goal attempts for the Wranglers (1-3).
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LEAGUE'S ONLINE RADIO SHOW RETURNS: The arenafootball2 league (af2) announced on Thursday that it will be relaunching its online radio show, "Off the Net." The only internet radio show devoted solely to arenafootball2, "Off the Net" will air for the first time on Thursday, March 29, on www.af2.com. This week's show features special interviews with new Spokane Shock Head Coach ADAM SHACKLEFORD, Manchester Wolves radio voice Dick Lutsk and af2 President JERRY KURZ. Fans will be able to access the program by clicking on a special "Off the Net" advertisement located at the lower right hand corner of af2.com. The first show should be available online late this afternoon. "Off the Net" will air every Thursday throughout the regular season and continue all the way until an ArenaCup Champion is crowned in late August. The show is designed to bring af2 fans even closer to their favorite game with in-depth news, interesting interviews and fun feature stories. Veteran broadcaster Dean Jackson will serve as host.
LEAGUE'S TOP ACTIVE COACHES SQUARE OFF IN WEEK 1: This Saturday, March 31, the two most winningest active coaches in the af2 will square off against each other, BEN BENNETT of Manchester and RICH INGOLD of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Bennett leads all active af2 coaches in career wins with 46 (including playoffs) and is tied for fifth overall on the all-time list. The AFL Hall-of-Famer is in his third season with the Wolves and fifth af2 campaign overall. He helped guide the Florida Firecats to an ArenaCup title in 2004. Ingold is right behind his counterpart with 43 career af2 victories which places him second among active coaches and ninth overall on the all-time list. Ingold is in his second season with the Pioneers and fifth season overall. In 2006, Bennett's Wolves took three of the four head-to-head battles against Ingold's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton squad, including a 55-44 win in the first round of the playoffs.
SPIDERMAN RETURNS: One of the most exciting players ever to play in the af2 returns in 2007, Tulsa WR DONOVAN MORGAN. Morgan (6-4, 205, Pearl River CC) re-wrote the af2 record book for scoring during the 2005 season. Shattering the scoring record that stood since the league's inaugural season, Morgan racked up 346 total points in 15 games, far eclipsing the previous mark of 284 set by Shon King of Quad City in 2000. Morgan also set a new league single season high with 54 touchdown receptions (that record was equaled in 2006 by Louisville's Rob Mager). Morgan led his team with 121 receptions and 1,687 yards. His reception total was sixth best in the league while his yardage total ranked second best. Morgan also returned 35 kickoffs for 686 yards (19.6 average) and two touchdowns. He recorded four or more touchdown receptions nine times during the season. He also amassed 100 or more receiving yards in 10 games. Morgan was selected as Offensive Player of the Game 11 times, and earned af2 Offense Player of the Week honors one time. He was named the league's Rookie of the Year. After the Talons' season ended, Morgan signed a contract with the NFL's Houston Texans. He would later earn a spot on the team's 2005 active roster, catching four passes for 42 yards in three games played at wide receiver. Morgan was waived at the end of the 2006 Houston Texans training camp and spent the last of 2006 on the practice squad of the Kansas City Chiefs.
ARENACUP CHAMPS BACK IN ACTION: The defending ArenaCup Champion Spokane Shock host the Stockton Lightning this Saturday, March 31 in what will be the team's first outing since claiming the 2006 ArenaCup in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The team that takes the field on Saturday will look a little bit different than the one Shock fans witnessed in 2006. One new face is Head Coach Adam Shackleford. Shackleford, who most recently served as the offensive coordinator for the Louisville Fire, has a good group of veterans returning to Spokane this year, led by receivers ANTWONE SAVAGE and RAUL VIJIL. The Shock also have fan favorite ROB KEEFE back to lead the defensive secondary. These two teams met twice in 2006, including a 41-40 Shock home win in Week 1 (March 30) in what was each team's first af2 game.
af2 ORIGINALS KEEP RIVALRY GOING: Two of the af2's original league members, the Alabama Steeldogs (Birmingham, Ala.) and Tennessee Valley Vipers (Huntsville, Ala.), square off on Friday night (March 30) in Huntsville. The two teams, who have played each other 13 times through the years, first met in the first-ever af2 game on March 31, 2000. The Vipers, who hold an 11-2 advantage in the head-to-head series, won that first meeting in Birmingham in front of 14,831 fans, 59-18.
FULL SLATE ON OPENING WEEK: The 2007 season features the heaviest opening week schedule of games in af2 history with 11. The next closest year, 2006, had an opening week which included seven games.
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PLAYERS TO WATCH: There's a host of great players that will take the field for their respective teams in Week 1, but eight in particular that could have big days include (in no particular order):
1.) WR MARKEITH COOPER - Alabama Steeldogs - Cooper totaled 169 catches for 2,094 yards and 40 receiving scores in three AFL seasons with Georgia and one with New York. His best year came in 2004 when he caught 85 passes for 1,089 yards and 24 touchdowns for the Force.
2.) QB GLEN GAUNTT - Mahoning Valley Thunder - Gauntt knows the Arena game very well, having starred in the af2 with the Augusta Stallions in 2001-02 before spending the last four seasons in the AFL. His presence, skill and leadership should help Mahoning Valley get off to a solid start.
3.) QB RYAN VENA - W-B/Scranton Pioneers - Vena is fresh off a record-setting 2006 season for Albany in which he broke the af2 record for passing yards in a season with 4,520. He ranks among the af2's all-time leaders in passing yards, touchdown passes, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
4.) WR MAGIC BENTON - Florida Firecats - The af2's all-time leading receiver and touchdown maker. Benton is entering his seventh year in the league on the heels of a stellar 2006 season in which he registered career highs in receptions (111), receiving yards (1,612) and touchdowns (40).
5.) WR/DB LAMONTE JONES - Everett Hawks - Jones won the 2006 af2 Ironman of the Year Award. The three-year veteran was Central Valley's leading receiver with 107 catches for 1,419 yards and 40 scores. He was a major player for Central Valley on special teams and defense as well. Ranked third on the squad with 36.5 (32UA, 9A) total tackles.
6.) WR CHAVIS MCCOLLISTER - South Georgia Wildcats - Despite playing in only the final seven games for Macon, McCollister was a real difference maker with 62 catches, 907 yards and 22 receiving TDs. The Knights were 5-2 with McCollister in the lineup.
7.) QB CODY HODGES - Fort Wayne Fusion - Hodges was one of the nation's most prolific passers during the 2005 NCAA football season while at Texas Tech. He led the nation in attempts (531) and completions (353), while throwing for 4,238 yards and 31 touchdowns. Signed as an undrafted free agent with the NFL's Tennessee Titans prior to the 2006 season, Hodges will be the trigger man for "Touchdown" Eddie Brown's offense.
8.) WR/LB ROBERT GARTH - Tri-Cities Fever - Garth, who has played the last four years in Green Bay, is known around the league as "Superman." The 6-foot-4, 235-pound two-way player had 16 receiving touchdowns in 2006 with the Blizzard, while also recording 23.5 tackles on defense. He's a true factor on both sides of the ball.
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