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af2 week one Saturday night matchups

March 30, 2007 - arenafootball2 (af2) News Release


SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2007 - Memorial Coliseum (10,500) 7:00 P.M. ET

Green Bay hits the road in Week 1 to take on the first-year Fusion in a matchup of new Midwest Division opponents. The Blizzard enjoyed a memorable 2006 season in which the team won the East Division crown and made it all the way to the 2006 ArenaCup. This year, however, a number of key players have moved on, including standouts like "The Animal" Peter Lazare and Robert "Superman" Garth. Lazare is in the AFL with Dallas, while Garth relocated to Washington to play with the Tri-Cities Fever. Other key missing pieces include QB James MacPherson, lineman Robert Boss, and receivers Luke Leverson and Brent Holmes. However, New Head Coach Doug Lytle has retooled the roster and has some solid team veterans and newcomers in the mix. WR Kerry Wright was a playmaker in Birmingham last season on offense (801 receiving yards, 13 TDs in 8 games) and special teams before an injury cut his season short. The man who got him the ball in the early season last year was QB Ryan Hawk, who has also moved north to Green Bay. Hawk, the brother of Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, is a solid signal caller who was named the team's starter earlier this week. On defense, Lytle's team will rely on veteran OL/DL Jason Hardee (16.0 tackles, 5.5 for loss) and FB/LB Gustavus Tyson (8.0 tackles, 2.0 for loss) and a rookie-heavy secondary featuring twins Donnie and Ronnie Amadi. The strong and steady leg of Blizzard K Dallas Pelz also returns for his second season. The Fusion are the new game in Fort Wayne, and fans are looking for "Touchdown" Eddie Brown to score big just like he did in the Arena Football League. In his first year as a head coach, Brown will rely on veterans like WR/DB Cesare Manning, DB Kyle Grove and OL/DL Lou Vega to provide leadership while also being on-field forces at their respective positions. Manning has spent his most recent seasons with Louisville while Grove is a former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton standout from 2003-05 and Vega is an af2 veteran of five seasons. Fort Wayne acquired rookie QB Cody Hodges this week from Oklahoma City to be the team's starting signal caller 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. The concerns could reside in a group of lineman who look a little light on paper. The Fusion, however, have the "G.O.A.T." (Greatest of All Time) leading the charge, and with that the foundation at Fort Wayne looks to be in good shape. A strong opening night crowd should be entertained in Fort Wayne by these two teams who look very evenly matched on paper.

BLIZZARD FUSION SERIES LEADER First time these teams are meeting

LAST MEETING No previous meetings


LAST GAME Lost 34-57 at Spokane on 8/26/06 N/A

2006 LEADERS BLIZZARD FUSION PASSING MacPherson: 243-163-9; 2241; 36 TDs NA

RECEIVING Holmes: 59-983; 12 TDs NA

RUSHING Lazare: 62-251; 17 TDs NA

TACKLES Crocker: 92 NA

SACKS Boss and Francis: 4.5 NA

INTERCEPTIONS Kaymore and Jackson: 3 NA

KICKING Lazare: 43-51 PAT; 7-14 FG; 64 PTs NA




SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2007 - Chevrolet Centre (6,100) 7:00 P.M. ET Two new teams to the league, Tri-Cities and Mahoning Valley, meet on Saturday in Youngstown, Ohio in what will be their first af2 game action ever. The Fever boast some of the league's most seasoned veterans at key positions. At quarterback, Tri-Cities has Brian Baker, who played for new Fever Head Coach Tony Wells last season in Everett. Baker played well late last year and could be primed for a breakout season, especially with the cast of receivers he has to throw to. The skilled set includes Robert Garth, J.R. Thomas and Leroy McFadden. 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. Thomas, who started last year in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton then relocated to Everett, caught 12 touchdowns in just five games played for the Hawks. McFadden is another big man who has spent the majority of his af2 career in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. In six games with the Pioneers in 2006, McFadden had 10 receiving touchdowns. Defensively, the secondary looks in order with Jamie Hattley, formerly with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Ruschard Dodd-Masters, who spent last year in Everett. The Thunder are also brand new, but they have the benefit of having two key veteran components to their team - Head Coach Mike Hold and veteran QB Glen Gauntt. 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. Gauntt will also be especially comfortable in his new surroundings thanks to having his old head coach in Augusta, Hold, directing him on the sidelines for the Thunder. Last time the two were together in the af2 in 2002 they won 13 games. While that goal might be a bit overly optimistic at this stage, Thunder fans should expect this team to be competitive right away. The difference in how well these teams will perform ultimately depends on how quickly the rookie players take to their new confines between the walls.















SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2007 - Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza (7,950) 7:00 P.M. ET Both teams reached the playoffs last season and now the Pioneers host the Wolves in the teams' season-opening game. After a sub-par inaugural season in Manchester in 2004, the Wolves have turned things around under the direction of head coach Ben Bennett. Bennett, currently the af2's winningest active coach with 46 wins overall (including playoffs) and has a strong base to work from again in 2007. The two biggest assets are an experienced group up front and great skill and depth at the receiver position. The team's main question mark comes at the quarterback position. Veteran Brian Zbydniewski will get the starting nod under center due to his experience, but that experience has been a bit rocky. Bennett believes his conservative attack will bring out the best in Zbydniewski. The Wolves also received quite a gift around holiday time when Jarrail Jackson, formerly of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, was assigned to Manchester. Jackson's career numbers rank among the very best all-time in receiving and kick returns. Manchester's leaders on defense include Mike Wells, Jimmy Williams, and Lamar Bryant on the line and Allistair Sebastien (25 career INTs) and Shawn Murray (5 INTs with Albany in 2006). If this squad has good health on its side, Manchester could earn its third straight trip to the postseason. The home standing Pioneers now have not one, but two fiery leaders in Head Coach Rich Ingold and veteran QB Ryan Vena. 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. His competitive nature and determination are common traits he shares with his new coach. The Pioneers have added another solid newcomer in DB Pete McBride, who led Albany in tackles in 2006 with 52.0. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton also returns speedy WR/KR Jim Jones and DL Doug Harding. Jones is a two-year veteran who spent most of last season in Albany before being claimed late in the year by the Pioneers. He earned All-af2 Second Team honors in 2006. Harding recorded a team-best 9.0 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks as a rookie. The Pioneers, however, will be a solid bet to get to the postseason as long as Ingold and Vena are their leaders. The Pioneers have a chance to tie up the all-time series between Manchester if they can pull off a win.


LAST MEETING Manchester won 55-44 vs. WB/Scranton on 8/4/06


LAST GAME Lost 39-40 at Florida on 8/12/06 in the playoffs Lost 44-55 at Manchester on 8/4/06 in the playoffs

2006 LEADERS WOLVES PIONEERS PASSING Bryant: 339-2424; 59 TDs Granieri: 538-3298; 55 TDs

RECEIVING Bacote: 118-1355; 44 TDs Brantley: 87-1111; 17 TDs

RUSHING Kimner: 61-293; 8 TDs Granieri: 43-62; 12 TDs

TACKLES Haith: 71.5 Hattley: 88

SACKS Forney: 4 Harding: 6.5

INTERCEPTIONS Haith: 6 Forbes: 7

KICKING Pohlman: 40-43 PAT; 3-7 FG; 64 PTs Davis: 83-98 PAT; 4-15 FG; 95 PTs

TEAM OFFENSE 53.6 PPG; 278.7 YPG 44.2 PPG; 231.9 YPG

TEAM DEFENSE 47.8 PPG; 256.3 YPG 46.0 PPG; 270.8 YPG


SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2007 - U.S. Bank Arena (12,056) 7:00 P.M. ET The Cincinnati Jungle Kats begin their inaugural season by hosting one of the league's original entries, the Quad City Steamwheelers. Quad City is steaming over not making the playoffs in 2006 for just the second time in the team's history. An inconsistent defense led to the team's sub par 7-9 record, but this year things should be different. Troy Biladeau returns to Quad City to direct the Steamwheelers defense for new Head Coach Sean Ponder after spending last year in Spokane. The Shock defense, directed by Biladeau, was a big reason why the squad won the ArenaCup, so the Steamwheelers hope for the same impact. Ponder's offense looks to be strong again with the return of af2 veteran playmakers Kris Peters and Jack Walker, both 1,000-yard receivers in 2006. Add second-year player Thomas Anthony, younger brother of former Steamwheeler and current New York Dragon Chris Anthony, and this trio could cause major havoc this year for opposing defenses. The only real question for this team is who will be triggering the offense now that QB Tim Hicks is in the AFL. Whether it's Pike or Raterink, Quad City fans should feel good about this team's chances in 2007. The Jungle Kats enter their first af2 season with a quality coaching staff, led by Tony Missick. He will be partnered with Ron Hill, who is a longtime offensive coordinator in the league and was an assistant on Missick's staff in 2002 with the Norfolk Nighthawks. Cincinnati has some solid af2 experienced players at the skill positions, led by WR/DB Reggie "Bunkie" Perkins and WR Hassan Brockman. Brockman led the 2006 Everett Hawks in receiving with 80 catches for nearly 800 yards and 17 scores. The squad also has a strong two-way player in the fold, Nate Green. Green did a little bit of everything for Louisville last season, most notably in returns (team-high 970 kick return yards, 1 TD), and rushing (6 rushing TDs) and on defense (50.5 tackles, 3 INTs). Cincinnati's success will likely ride on line play and quarterback performance. If those elements come together, the Jungle Kats should see immediate success. Cincinnati will need to come out focused, however, and limit mistakes in order to stay close with an improved Steamwheelers squad.

STEAMWHEELERS JUNGLE KATS SERIES LEADER First time these teams are meeting

LAST MEETING No previous meetings


LAST GAME Lost 48-79 at Manchester on 7/28/06 N/A


RECEIVING Peters: 109-1588; 28 TDs N/A

RUSHING Novak: 24-77; 4 TDs N/A

TACKLES Graham: 77.5 N/A

SACKS Petty: 5 N/A


KICKING Naehu: 79-104 PAT; 8-18 FG; 103 PTs N/A




SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2007 - Albany Civic Center (8,034) 7:30 P.M. ET

The Wildcats host the Twisters in one of the more interesting affairs set for Saturday night. Arkansas has high expectations and aspirations after falling one step short of the ArenaCup last season. Despite going into the season without impact players such as DB Delenell Reid, FB/LB Steve Watson, DL C.J. McLain and QB Walter Church, the Twisters still have a strong core of veterans back in the mix. Those key returnees include the team's top three wide receivers, WR Robert Kilow (82 catches, 927 yards, 23 TDs), WR/LB Kevin Williams (70 catches, 901 yards, 16 TDs) and WR/DB Jon Schoonover (59 catches, 812 yards, 18 TDs). All three are playmakers who should help aid in the development of former backup QB turned starter Brian Villanueva. On the defensive side, the Twisters will be hard pressed to have the same sort of success in the pass rush as they did a year ago with Watson and McLain. In 2006, the tandem combined for 30.5 of Arkansas' af2-best 51 total sacks. The Twisters are also without their top two defensive backs, Delenell Reid and Bryron Hughey. One defender the team is high on is DL Barrett Dallmeyer, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound rookie from Angelo State. If John Gregory's new-look line can produce a suitable pass rush and protect Villanueva, the Twisters should be able to book a second straight trip to the postseason. The South Georgia Wildcats enter 2007 with renewed optimism thanks to a noticeably different roster and a new head coach in Derek Stingley. Stingley, who coached Macon for the past year and a half, has brought a number of the Knights best players with him to join the Wildcats. Those players include OL/DL Ed Wangler (13.0 sacks in 2006), WR Chavis McCollister (62 catches, 907 yards, 22 receiving TDs in just 7 games), FB/LB Derrick Lloyd (194 rushing yards, 12 rushing TDs, 33.0 tackles) and WR/LB Jamaal Garman (456 receiving yards, 7 TDs, 23.5 tackles, 4 INTs, 4 fumble recoveries). All four will be major factors for South Georgia. Stingley also brought a group of veteran lineman over from Macon as well. Another addition is QB D. Bryant, who threw 59 TD passes with the Manchester Wolves in 2006. Add this cast to returnees like QB Julian Reese, WR/DB Alvin Ray Jackson and FB/LB James Harris, and South Georgia fans should have a lot to be excited for this season. This contest looks too close to call.

TWISTERS WILDCATS SERIES LEADER First time these teams are meeting

LAST MEETING No previous meetings


LAST GAME Lost 30-48 at Spokane on 8/19/06 in the playoffs Lost 40-46 vs. Florida on 7/29/06

2006 LEADERS TWISTERS WILDCATS PASSING Church: 550-3623; 81 TDs Reese: 428-2897; 49 TDs

RECEIVING Kilow: 82-927; 23 TDs McKinney: 139-1593; 33 TDs

RUSHING Watson: 18-40; 6 TDs Reese: 72-341; 9 TDs

TACKLES Reid: 100.5 McCoy: 96.5

SACKS Watson: 16 Davis: 3

INTERCEPTIONS Williams and Reid: 7 Robinson: 4

KICKING Carlton: 67-87 PAT; 9-33 FG; 94 PTs Burnett: 57-76 PAT; 10-29 FG; 87 PTs

TEAM OFFENSE 47.8 PPG; 228.9 YPG 41.9 PPG; 246.4 YPG

TEAM DEFENSE 44.6 PPG; 238.8 YPG 49.9 PPG; 268.7 YPG


SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2007 - Germain Arena (7,128) 7:30 P.M. ET

Oklahoma City and Florida lock up on Saturday night for their first-ever meeting. The Yard Dawgz have enjoyed a great deal of regular season success in their three-year existence thanks to arguably the best quarterback ever to play in the af2, Craig Strickland. However, despite Strickland's presence, the postseason hasn't been as kind to Oklahoma City as the team has never won a playoff game. This year the team has a new look to it. Strickland decided to retire at the end of 2006, and his favorite target, WR/KR Jarrail Jackson, is gone as well. Jackson made the move East in the fall to take a coaching job at Dartmouth and will play this summer for the Manchester Wolves. Oklahoma City will be directed by John Fitzgerald, who decided to step into coaching after playing for five years in the AFL, most recently in Austin. The Yard Dawgz will start Stan Hill at QB to begin the 2007 season. Hill was a backup to Brian Jones last year in Memphis. Despite Jackson's absence, Hill will have plenty of talent to spread the ball around to, most notably veteran WR/DB Al Hunt. Hunt has been one of the league's most consistent all-around players since his career began in 2003. He has earned four straight All-af2 selections, the most of any current league athlete. Also returning to the team are dependable DBs Jon Holland and Oliver Fletcher. A newcomer to watch out for could be OL/DL Vincent Carter. There's no doubt that Oklahoma City has a few more questions than they've had in the past, but this group should continue to be very competitive in 2007. Florida again looks to be the team to beat in the South Division thanks to a healthy number of impact players returning to the team in 2007. The offense starts with QB Chris Wallace, who is coming off the finest af2 season of his career, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards (3,918) and 100 touchdowns. Wallace became just the second QB in af2 history to hit the century mark in TD passes, ranking second overall in the af2 behind Central Valley's Scott Rislov (106). His main target Magic Benton also returns. Benton is the af2's all-time leader in a host of categories, including receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. The veteran receiver also had his best season in 2006, catching 111 passes for 1,612 yards and 40 scores. If that wasn't enough, Wallace will also have WR/LB Ethenic Sands (89 catches, 895 yards, 31 TDs), WR/LB Brittney Tellis (48 catches, 756 yards, 17 TDs) and WR/DB Brent Burnside (44 catches, 527 yards, 10 TDs) back as well. The Firecats also scored big with the addition of veteran WR Chris McKinney. McKinney had a stellar season in 2006 with South Georgia, catching 139 passes for 1,593 yards and 33 touchdowns. The Firecats line, which includes Comone Fisher, Antonio Dingle and Keith Drayton, looks to be rock solid again as well. The same can be said for the defensive secondary with the return of DBs Quincy Sorrell and Levy Brown. Overall, this team looks loaded from top to bottom. The Yard Dawgz and Firecats match up for what should be a great game.

YARD DAWGZ FIRECATS SERIES LEADER First time these teams are meetings

LAST MEETING No previous meetings


LAST GAME Lost 43-47 vs. Arkansas on 8/5/06 in the playoffs Lost 47-60 vs. Green Bay on 8/19/06 in the playoffs

2006 LEADERS YARD DAWGZ FIRECATS PASSING Strickland: 549-4244; 87 TDs Wallace: 491-3918; 100 TDs

RECEIVING Jackson: 125-1636; 33 TDs Benton: 111-1612; 40 TDs

RUSHING Dingle: 15-93; 5 TDs Crossley: 96-380; 18 TDs

TACKLES Fletcher: 83.5 Bailey: 117.5

SACKS Allen: 6.5 Fisher: 5

INTERCEPTIONS Holland: 4 Levy: 8

KICKING Ball: 38-46 PAT; 5-12 FG; 53 PTs Kornblue: 80-114 PAT; 3-7 FG; 89 PTs

TEAM OFFENSE 58.4 PPG; 262.1 YPG 59.2 PPG

TEAM DEFENSE 46.2 PPG; 276.4 YPG 47.0 PPG


SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2007 - Spokane Arena (10,187) 8:00 P.M. ET

The 2006 ArenaCup Champion Shock host Stockton again in the teams' season opener just as they did as first-year squads a year ago. The Lightning hope to strike early and often in 2007 for a passionate fan base that saw just five wins in 2006. Despite player losses like QB Josh Blankenship, WR/LB Phil Goodman, OL/DL Clay Harrell and last year's International Player of the Year Atnas Maeko, Stockton already looks improved from last year. New Head Coach Doug Murray secured key returnees in WR/DB/KR Kenyatte Morgan and FB/LB Lyndell Hawkins and added former AFL players like FB/LB JaJuan Huddleston and WR/LB Sale' Key, both of whom are also former af2 standouts. If they can get solid QB play from likely starter Derrick Crudup from the University of Miami, the Lightning should be much improved. Spokane is coming off a 2006 campaign in which the team lost just two games all season on its way to the title. One of those losses came against the Louisville Fire. That's why, when Head Coach Chris Siegfried moved up to be an assistant in the AFL, the Shock went out and hired Louisville's offensive coordinator Adam Shackleford to lead the team in 2007. Shackleford 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. Despite the strong returning group, Spokane has two unproven quarterbacks currently on its roster in Matt Gutierrez and Andrico Hines. Whoever gets the call under center for Shackleford, Spokane should again be one of the league's top teams. The Shock have a title to defend, but the Lightning will fight through the storm and likely provide Spokane with a tough Week 1 test.


LAST MEETING Spokane won 63-44 at Stockton on 7/15/06


LAST GAME Lost 49-62 vs. Central Valley on 7/29/06 Won 57-34 vs. Green Bay on 8/26/06 in ArenaCup

2006 LEADERS LIGHTNING SHOCK PASSING Blankenship: 561-4052; 82 TDs Neist: 344-2550; 44 TDs

RECEIVING Goodman: 91-1227; 30 TDs Frederick: 85-973; 22 TDs

RUSHING Harris: 15-42; 3 TDs Vijil: 30-68; 10 TDs

TACKLES Wallace: 55 Keefe: 86.5

SACKS Dorisme: 8 Purvis: 3

INTERCEPTIONS Surrell: 3 Keefe: 10

KICKING Hickok: 67-90 PAT; 7-14 FG; 88 PTs Koker: 89-114 PAT; 4-9 FG; 101 PTs

TEAM OFFENSE 48.8 PPG; 267.8 YPG 55.8 PPG; 260.2 YPG

TEAM DEFENSE 54.3 PPG; 287.4 YPG 47.4 PPG; 258.6 YPG


SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2007 - Tulsa Convention Center (7,111) 8:00 P.M. ET

The Talons host the Hawks in the two teams first-ever on-field affair. The Hawks got off to a rough start in their first season in 2006 and never fully recovered, finishing a disappointing 4-12. However, new Head Coach Cedric Walker has set out to make sure last season is nothing but a memory. Coach Walker has done a stellar job of recruiting by bringing in impact skill players like LaMonte Jones, Marvin Brown and Phil Goodman. Jones, the 2006 af2 Ironman of the Year, registered 107 catches, 1,419 yards and 40 touchdowns on offense for Central Valley. He also had a strong campaign in kick returns (837 return yards, 2 TDs) and on defense (36.5 tackles, 3 INTs). Brown, Jones' teammate a year ago, had nearly 1,000 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns for the Coyotes. Goodman spent 2006 with the Stockton Lightning and had 1,227 receiving yards, 30 touchdowns and 46.5 tackles on defense. Walker also feels good about his secondary led by former Louisville Fire player Charles Ealy and former AFL player Art Smith. Everett still holds some questions on the line and at quarterback. Overall, this team has the talent and experience to be a factor in 2007. The Talons look loaded in 2007. They may be missing four key components from their 2006 team that won the Midwest Division regular season title, but they've added a number of impact players to make up for their losses. Tulsa's new faces aren't so new to the af2. After a year in Stockton in 2006, QB Josh Blankenship is back in Tulsa, a place where he enjoyed an impressive 2005 campaign. One of the main reasons behind his success in 2005 was the presence of WR Donovan Morgan. Blankenship threw 89 touchdowns that season, while Morgan caught an af2-record 54 scores. Together, they helped the Talons win the West Division with an 11-5 record. Other notable names returning to Tulsa include WR Andre Forde, WR/DB Don McGee and WR Ricky Ross, the team's top three wideouts from a year ago. Forde led the cast with 83 grabs for 923 yards and 25 touchdowns. The Talons defense also looks to be rock solid thanks to the additions of former Arkansas stars Delenell Reid and C.J. McLain. Reid led the Twisters in tackles (100.5), interceptions (7) and pass breakups (35) in 2006 while McLain led the team in tackles for loss with 20.5, including 14.5 sacks. This game will be a good first test for each team. A slight edge might go to Tulsa as the Talons will likely have a big crowd on hand for their home opener.

HAWKS TALONS SERIES LEADER First time these teams are meeting

LAST MEETING No previous meetings


LAST GAME Lost 42-47 at Bakersfield on 7/29/07 Lost 51-53 vs. Arkansas on 8/12/07 in the playoffs

2006 LEADERS HAWKS TALONS PASSING Baker: 289-2250; 51 TDs Radlinski: 501-3525; 74 TDs

RECEIVING Myers: 64-873; 16 TDs Forde: 83-923; 25 TDs

RUSHING Reese: 19-46; 10 TDs Radlinski: 43-121; 13 TDs

TACKLES Butler: 57 Sadler: 69

SACKS Harrell: 7 Murphy: 10

INTERCEPTIONS Butler: 4 Sadler: 8

KICKING Hawley: 77-98 PAT; 5-14 FG; 92 PTs Phillips: 94-119 PAT; 6-20 FG; 112 PTs

TEAM OFFENSE 46.0 PPG; 264.0 YPG 54.2 PPG; 275.0 YPG

TEAM DEFENSE 49.9 PPG; 269.9 YPG 44.2 PPG; 235.7 YPG

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