AFL Matchups: Gladiators, Sharks Battle for Postseason Positioning on ESPN2
June 22, 2016 - Arena Football League (AFL) News Release
LAS VEGAS - The Cleveland Gladiators currently sit in the No. 4 seed while the Jacksonville Sharks are at No. 6 and looking to make their late-season push to climb the standings this Saturday, June 25 at 7 p.m. ET at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on ESPN2. With the Top 4 seeds hosting games in the postseason, the Gladiators (6-6) hope to hold on behind the arm of QB Arvell Nelson. The third-year veteran earned Week 12 Under Armour Offensive Player of the Week and has revived the Cleveland offense (172-of-296 passing for 2,232 yards and 50 TDs) in the process. Former AFL MVP Tommy Grady (274-of-404 passing for 3,150 yards and 62 TDs) and red-hot WR Joe Hills (113 receptions for 1,436 yards and 38 TDs) will be hard to slow down, but the stingy secondary of DBs Marvin Ross, Kelvin Rodgers, Joe Phinisee and Demarcus Robinson (combined 9 INTs and 160.5 total tackles) will look to step up to the task.
Elsewhere, it's an American Conference battle in Florida between the Orlando Predators (10-2) and the Tampa Bay Storm (1-10) at Amway Center on Friday, June 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network. The tandem of WRs Brandon Thompkins (98 receptions, 1,174 receiving yards, 2,713 all-purpose yards and 36 total TDs) and Greg Carr (70 receptions for 990 yards and 23 TDs) will help drive the Orlando offense, while Tampa Bay WR T.T. Toliver has another all-time career record in his sights with the career all-purpose yards mark next on his "to do" list. Toliver (20,973 all-purpose yards) currently sits 69 yards short of AFL Hall of Famer Barry Wagner's record of 21,042 all-purpose yards.
Also, QB Nick Davila and the Arizona Rattlers (9-3) travel to play WR Donovan Morgan (80 catches, 880 yards and 30 TDs) and the Los Angeles KISS (5-6) at Honda Center on Sunday, June 26 at 6 p.m. ET on WatchESPN. Davila (262-of-387 passes for 3,180 yards and 83 TDs) finds himself in MVP discussions again with WRs Rod Windsor (113 catches, 1,320 yards and 34 TDs), Maurice Purify (54 catches, 678 yards and 22 TDs) and Chase Deadder (43 catces, 572 yards and 16 TDs) to throw to. Los Angeles' rising star QB Pete Thomas (93-of-167 passes for 1,165 yards, 27 TDs and only 2 INTs) has given the KISS consistency under center, while former All-Arena DB Clevan Thomas (81 career INTs, No. 2 all-time) hopes to make the KISS defense the antidote to the venomous Rattlers' offense.
The final game of the weekend, Portland QB Shane Austin (59.9 Completion %, 1,600 yards and 32 passing TDs in six starts) and the Portland Steel (1-10) host 2015 AFL MVP QB Dan Raudabaugh (69.4 Comp. %, 3,178 yards and 72 TDs), and the Philadelphia Soul (9-3) at Moda Center on Monday, June 27 at 10 p.m. ET on WatchESPN and Univision Deportes (The Univision broadcast will be tape-delayed to Tuesday, June 28 at 2 p.m. ET). WR Tom Gilson (102 receptions for 1,027 yards and 14 TDs) and WR Jared Perry (50 receptions for 667 yards and 10 TDs) are Austin's prime targets, while the Philadelphia receiving trio of Darius Reynolds, Shaun Kauleinamoku and Ryan McDaniel have combined for 239 receptions for 3,000 yards and 62 TDs.
For complete official statistics, game notes and media guides, go to: www.afldigital.com.
WEEK 13 MATCHUPS
TAMPA BAY STORM (1-10) AT ORLANDO PREDATORS (10-2)
Friday, June 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Play-by-play: Dave Ryan; Color: Sherdrick Bonner; Sideline: Tina Cervasio
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: STORM: QB Jason Boltus is in his fifth season with the Storm...In seven games this season, Boltus has completed 157-of-283 passes for 1,909 yards and 32 TDs, along with rushing for five TDs...In his last outing against Orlando, the former Hawk went 27-of-46 for 254 yards, four TDs and one INT... WR T.T. Toliver continues to cement his name in the AFL record books... Last week, Toliver caught six receptions to pass AFL Hall of Famer Damian Harrell (1,164) as the all-time receptions leader with 1,166 receptions in his 13-year career... On the season, Toliver has hauled in 77 catches for 1,132 yards and 17 TDs... Another receiving target for Boltus is WR Phillip Barnett... Barnett has caught 68 receptions for 650 yards and 13 TDs in 10 games this season... Against Orlando this season, Toliver and Barnett have combined for 26 receptions for 286 yards and six TDs... The Storm's defense is led by DBs Cortez Stubbs and James Harrell... Stubbs has tallied 55.0 total tackles, three INTs, seven pass break-ups, 10 passes defended, and one forced fumble... Harrell has 42.5 total tackles, two INTs, eight pass break-ups, and 10 passes defended on the season... PREDATORS: QB Bernard Morris will likely get his second start of the season under center on Friday... Making four appearances under center this year, Morris has completed 22-of-37 passes for 243 yards, six TDs and zero INTs... The Marshall alum made his first start this season in Week 10 versus the LA KISS going 16-of-26 for 171 yards and two TDs, while rushing for an additional 37 yards and two TDs... Morris will look to utilize the Predators' scoring receiving corps duo of WR Brandon Thompkins and WR Greg Carr...Thompkins has hauled in 98 receptions for 1,174 yards and 29 TDs... In 12 games this season, Carr has caught 70 passes for 990 yards and 23 TDs... In the previous two meetings against Tampa Bay this season, Thompkins and Carr have combined for 23 receptions for 319 yards and nine TDs...On defense, Orlando is led by DB Varmah Sonie... The former Panther has 74.0 total tackles, six INTs, 15 pass break-ups, 21 passes defended and one forced fumble... Helping Sonie on defense is five-year veteran DB Kent Richardson. The West Virginia alum has tallied 58.0 total tackles, three INTs, 11 pass break-ups, and 14 passes defended on the season...
CLEVELAND GLADIATORS (6-6) AT JACKSONVILLE SHARKS (5-6)
Saturday, June 25 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Play-by-play: Ari Wolfe; Color: Sherdrick Bonner
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: GLADIATORS: QB Arvell Nelson has put up solid numbers since becoming the starting quarterback in Week 5... On the season, Nelson has completed 172-of 296 passes for 2,232 yards and 50 TDs; he has also rushed for seven TDs... In their first meeting this season, Nelson went 17-of-30 for 221 yards, three TDs, zero INTs and rushed for three TDs... Nelson will look to the receiving duo of WR Collin Taylor and WR Quentin Sims to continue making TD grabs... Taylor leads the team with 82 receptions for 1,033 yards and 25 TDs... Sims has hauled in 64 receptions for 718 yards and 20 TDs in nine games this season... In Week 6 against the Sharks, Taylor and Sims caught 12 passes for 162 yards and three TDs... The Gladiators are led on defense by DB Marvin Ross... Ross is having an impressive rookie season, tallying 65.5 total tackle, 21 pass break-ups, 26 passes defended, two forced fumbles, and five INTs taking three of those back for TDs... DB Demarcus Robinson is helping Ross on defense by contributing 64.0 total tackles, 12 pass break-ups, 15 passes defended, and three INTs, returning one for a TD in 11 games this season... SHARKS: QB Tommy Grady continues to do a solid job under center... The 2012 AFL MVP has completed 274-of-404 passes for 3,150, yards, 62 TDs, and five INTs... In Week 6 against Cleveland, Grady went 26-of-42 passes completed for 241 yards, five TDs, and zero INTs... WR Joe Hills has brought in 113 catches for 1,436 yards and 38 TDs this season... Hills has extended his streak to 62 consecutive regular-season appearances with at least one TD catch... WR Anthony "Tiger" Jones has caught 77 receptions for 895 yards and 13 TDs on the season... Jones and Hills combined for 21 receptions for 202 yards and five touchdowns in their previous meeting versus the Gladiators... FB Derrick Ross continues to dominate the Sharks' running game... Ross has 70 rushing attempts for 237 yards and 15 TDs in 10 games...The Sharks are led on defense by DB Greg Reid... The 2015 Rookie of the Year continues to make an impact on the Sharks' defensive line this season with 72.0 total tackles, a League-leading eight INTs, 18 pass break-ups, 26 passes defended, and one forced fumble.
ARIZONA RATTLERS (9-3) AT LOS ANGELES KISS (5-6)
Sunday, June 26 at 6 p.m. ET (WatchESPN)
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: RATTLERS: QB Nick Davila leads the AFL in both passing yards and pass-ing TDs this season with 3,180 yards and 83 TDs... Davila has thrown for 43 TDs and only 3 INTs in his career against the KISS... The Rattlers have the least amount of penalties this season with 68, that averages out to just under 6 per game... Rattlers' GM and Head Coach Kevin Guy is currently 40-5 all-time against all active AFL teams... The Rattlers defense is No. 1 in the AFL on 4th down, allowing only 29% to be converted. The KISS offense, on the other hand, is No. 3 in the AFL, converting 55.6% of their attempts... The Rattlers have the best scoring offense, averaging 67 points per game and the KISS have the best scoring defense only allowing 46 points per game... The Rattlers defense have been locking up their opponent late in downs this season. They currently sit atop the AFL in opponent 3rd and 4th down conversions this season with an astounding 32.1% on 3rd and 28.9% on 4th... FB Mykel Benson this season, is tied for No. 1 in rushing TDs (15) and is No. 3 in rushing yards (143)... WR Rod Windsor is No. 2 in the AFL for receiving yards and No. 2 for receiving TDs this season. He has a total of 1,320 yards and 34 TDs for the Rattlers... The Rattlers have two players in the Top 5 for total sacks this season. Dimetrio Tyson lead-ing the way with 5.0 sacks... KISS: WR Donovan Morgan has scored at least two TDs in the last eight games and has scored three or more TDs six times during that span... QB Pete Thomas has thrown six TD passes in three out of his four starts and has tossed 27 TDs this season, while only throwing two INTs. This TD-to-INT ratio of 13.5 is the highest in the AFL (minimum 25 TDs)... DL Marcus Pittman spent the past six seasons in a Rattlers uniform and had 28 sacks while in Arizona... DL Mike Lewis was traded to the LA KISS from the Orland Predators on May 24th and activated on June 4th. The seventh-year player is No. 2 on the all-time AFL sacks leaderboard (57.0). He recorded one sack in his first game in Week 10... DB Terrance Smith saw action in his first game with the LA KISS two weeks ago. Last week, he recorded his first INT of the season and led the team with 6.5 total tackles... DL Caesar Rayford was activated from the team's inactive reserve on Tuesday, June 14. The third-year AFL player recorded five tackles in seven games with the Dallas Cowboys in 2013... DB Josh Victorian has recovered two fumbles, which is the tied for No. 3 in the AFL. Additionally, is tied for No. 7 with one INT return TD and is the No. 16 in tackles per game (4.0)... LA KISS Defense leads the AFL in Red Zone defensive efficiency. Opponents have only scored on 72.3% of red zone possessions. The LA KISS also boast best scoring defense in the league, allowing just 46.2 points per game.
PHILADELPHIA SOUL (9-3) AT PORTLAND STEEL (1-10)
Monday, June 27 at 10 p.m. ET (*Univision Deportes & WatchESPN)
Play-by-play: Jorge Perez-Navarro; Color: Ramses Sandoval
(*Univision Tape-Delayed to Tuesday, June 28 at 2 p.m. ET)
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: SOUL: DB Tracy Belton, who is a six-year AFL veteran, is ranked No. 1 on the team with 54.5 total tackles, six INTs for 126 yards, 16 pass break-ups and 22 passes defended... FB Jeramie Richardson is tied for No. 1 in the AFL in rushing TDs (15) and ranked No. 2 for attempts (69) and yards (198)... WR Darius Reynolds currently leads the Soul receivers with 93 catches for 1,208 yards, 29 receiving TDs and one rushing TD in 11 games. In his career, Reynolds has totaled 318 receptions for 4,336 yards and 95 TDs as well as 42 rushes for 43 yards and 15 TDs... WR Chris Duvalt has been a great addition to both the Soul offense and special teams. So far this season he has recorded 11 receptions for 169 yards and seven TDs. He leads the team in kick returns with 36 for 653 yards... 2015 AFL Coach of the Year Clint Dolezel has a shot to repeat if the Soul continue their winning ways. The 2012 AFL Hall of Fame inductee had a storied 13-year playing career where he still finds himself amongst the all-time leaders in passing yards (No. 3 with 44,564), TD passes (No. 2 with 931), passing attempts (No. 4 with 5,698), and completions (No. 4 with 3,749)... In last week's loss to Arizona, QB Dan Raudabaugh completed 28-of-43 passes for 372 yards and seven TDs... STEEL: Last week, the Steel offense welcomed back WR Rashaad Carter who hauled in six passes for 71 yards and led all receivers with three TDs... In his fourth game with Portland, WR James Shaw caught eight passes for a game-high 109 yards and two TDs. He also added a rushing TD... QB Shane Austin eclipsed two career records as he completed his 1,000 AFL pass and has now passed for 250 TDs in his 50th career game... In 50 games at starting QB for his AFL career, Austin has 10 games over 300+ yards passing, three games over 30+ completions and 25 games with six or more TDs passing in a game... WR Tom Gilson enters Week 13 in the Top 10 of nearly every AFL receiving category, No. 3 in the AFL with 9.3 receptions per game, No. 3 with 102 receptions and No. 5 in receiving yards per game with 99.3. He leads the team in receptions (102), receiving yards (1,027) and receiving TDs (14). All are career season highs... Dexter Davis Jr. has been quite the disruptor on the defensive side of the ball. Davis Jr. is tied for No. 2 in the AFL with 4.0 sacks. For his career he has corralled nine sacks in just 19 career AFL games. The Friends University (Kansas) graduate, has accumulated 36.5 tackles in his AFL career.
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