Arizona Rattlers ArenaBowl XVIII Game Notes
The Stakes: The Champions of the Arena Football League will be crowned today in the 18th playing of the ArenaBowl. This is a re-match of the 2002 ArenaBowl, which San Jose won 52-14. San Jose has never lost an ArenaBowl, while Arizona is 2-2 all-time in the title game. This is the third straight appearance for Arizona.
The Series: These teams have met 23 times, with Arizona leading the series 13-10.
TV: Todays game will be televised on NBC, with Tom Hammond and Pat Haden calling the action. Marty Snider and Lewis Johnson will patrol the sidelines.
Radio: All Rattler games are broadcast on KMVP 860 AM. Kent Derdivanis, Ron Wolfley and Gene Nudo bring you the call.
#1 ARIZONA RATTLERS (13-5)
Date Opponent Time TV
2/8 Los Angeles Loss 32-51
2/13 Detroit Loss 31-48
2/21 @ Carolina Win 45-38
2/29 New York Win 53-41
3/5 Columbus Win 65-42
3/14 @ Las Vegas Loss 64-65 OT
3/18 New Orleans Loss 45-49
3/27 @ Colorado Loss 46-54
4/4 @ Grand Rapids Win 51-41
4/10 Las Vegas Win 80-63
4/18 Dallas Win 71-48
4/25 @ Indiana Win 46-43
5/1 @ Los Angeles Win 42-38
5/9 San Jose Win 58-41
5/15 @ Detroit Win 57-33
5/30 @ San Jose Win 50-43
6/6 #8 Los Angeles Win 59-42
6/13 #5 Colorado Win 45-41
#2 SAN JOSE SABERCATS (13-5)
Date Opponent Time TV
2/5 @ Detroit Win 58-43
2/22 @ Los Angeles Win 61-55
2/28 Grand Rapids Win 62-31
3/7 @ New York Loss 50-64
3/14 Colorado Win 55-35
3/20 Las Vegas Win 79-62
3/26 Los Angeles Win 55-52
4/4 @ Tampa Bay Win 62-55
4/10 @ Dallas Loss 54-58
4/16 Chicago Win 51-43
4/25 @ Georgia Win 63-34
5/1 New Orleans Win 68-34
5/9 @ Arizona Loss 41-58
5/16 @ Las Vegas Loss 35-44
5/22 Philadelphia Win 48-36
5/30 Arizona Loss 43-50
6/5 #7 Tampa Bay Win 56-52
6/12 #3 Chicago Win 49-35
Head Coaches: Head Coach and General Manager Danny White (141-64 overall, 121-55 regular season) is in his 13th season with the Arizona Rattlers. The 2002 Arena Football Hall of Fame inductee is second all-time in coaching victories, with 141 wins. White is only the second coach in AFL history to notch 100 wins. Whites career-winning percentage of .686 ranks fifth all-time in AFL history. He is a two-time ArenaBowl Champion (1994, 1997).
Darren Arbet is in his sixth season at the helm of the Sabercats. Arbet owns a career record of 72-26 (.735). He is 9-6 lifetime versus Arizona. Arbet was the AFLs Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2002. He led the SaberCats to the ArenaBowl title in 2002.
Mr. All Purpose: WR/LB Hunkie Cooper ranks first all-time in kickoff returns, second all-time in all-purpose yards, third in kickoff return touchdowns, and third in pass receptions.
1. George LaFrance 20,480
2. # Hunkie Cooper 20,443
3. # Barry Wagner 19, 823
1. # Hunkie Cooper 495
2. George LaFrance 460
Kickoff Return Touchdowns
1. Lamont Cooper 24
2. Steve Papin 23
3. # Hunkie Cooper 19
1. Eddie Brown 949
2. # Barry Wagner 933
3. # Hunkie Cooper 773
# denotes Active Player
30K Man: Rattlers Quarterback Sherdrick Bonner is third all-time in Arena Football history with 611 touchdown passes. He ranks second in passing yards (30, 636) and second in pass completions (2, 462). Bonner also ranks second for pass attempts (3, 945).
Most Passing Touchdowns
1. # Aaron Garcia 635
2. # Andy Kelly 615
3. # Sherdrick Bonner 611
Most Passing Yards
1. # Andy Kelly 32,013
2. # Sherdrick Bonner 30,636
3. # Aaron Garcia 30,572
Most Pass Completions
1. # Andy Kelly 2,863
2. # Sherdrick Bonner 2,462
3. # Clint Dolezel 2,405
4. # Aaron Garcia 2,339
Most Pass Attempts:
1. # Andy Kelly 4,673
2. # Sherdrick Bonner 3,945
3. # Aaron Garcia 3,796
# denotes Active Player
King Creole: Orshawante Bryant set a new Rattlers postseason record with his 13 pass receptions in the win over Los Angeles on 6/6. Bryant broke the record held by three players, most recently Randy Gatewood, set last year in San Jose. OB finished with 126 yards and three touchdowns, and also recovered a fumble at the end of the game to help preserve the Arizona victory.
Division Champs: The win over San Jose on 5/30 gave Arizona their fifth Western Division crown, and first since 1999. San Jose had won four times in a row.
All-Arena: Bryan Henderson was named All-AFL First Team by the AFL, thanks to his Rattlers record eight QB sacks, good for fourth in the league. The second year lineman out of Northwest Oklahoma was a member of the All-Rookie Team last season. Henderson is the first Rattlers lineman to ever be named to All-AFL First Team.
All-Ironman: Thanks to his six touchdown season, four on offense and two on defense, OL/DL Wendall Gaines was named to the AFLs All-Ironman team. It is the first time in his career Gaines has been named to the squad.
Big Numbers: Sherdrick Bonner set a new team record with his 3, 833 passing yards this season. Bonner broke the record he set last year when he passed for 3, 692 yards. His 77 TD passes are the second highest total in team history, short of the 88 scores he tossed last season.
Post Season Again: Arizona took part in the AFL Playoffs for the 12th consecutive season. The only time Arizona failed to qualify for the post season was in their first season, 1992. The Rattlers missed the playoffs by one game that year.
#1 Seed: Arizona earned the #1 seed in the playoffs for only the second time in team history. The only other time they finished the season on top of the standings was in 1997, the last time they won the ArenaBowl.
Last Game: Arizona used two huge defensive stands in the fourth quarter to defeat the Colorado Crush 45-41. The Rattlers lost a 17-0 lead, but were able to stop Colorado on their final drive to earn their third straight ArenaBowl berth. Sherdrick Bonner threw for 256 yards and five scores, two of them to Tom Pace, who caught nine passes for 110 yards.
Last Meeting: The Rattlers used a furious second half comeback to beat the Cats 50-43 in San Jose. San Jose led 34-17 at halftime, but the Rattlers used three blocked kicks and three Sherdrick Bonner second half TD passes to get the win.
Officials: Officials for todays game are: Bill Athan (Referee), Doug Wilson (Umpire), Bill Ward (Head Linesman), Dennis Lipski (Line Judge), and Rob Vernatchi (Back Judge).
12 In A Row: With their win over San Jose on 5/9, the Rattlers clinched their 12th consecutive winning season. Only Orlando has had more winning seasons in a row at 13.
Welcome Back: The Rattlers welcomed back WR/DB Randy Gatewood and FB/LB A.J. Novak for the Colorado game. Both players were injured during the game at LA on May 1 and were expected to be out for the season. The Rattlers run in the playoffs allowed both players to be ready for the playoffs. Gatewood suffered a broken right arm in the 5/1 game, while Novak suffered a right knee injury.
ArenaBowl History: This is Arizonas fifth trip to the ArenaBowl, the second highest total in AFL history. The Tampa Bay Storm, the Orlando Predators and the Detroit Drive have gone to six. Detroit went to their six consecutively, the only team with more consecutive ArenaBowl appearances than Arizonas three.
More ArenaBowl: Arizona defeated the heavily favored Orlando Predators 36-31 in 1994 to win their first AFL title. Sherdrick Bonner was named the games MVP, while Orlandos Barry Wagner, now a SaberCat, was named the Ironman of the Game. In 1997, Donnie Davis earned the MVP in Arizonas 55-33 win over Iowa. Davis was playing for the injured Bonner, who broke his leg in the Semi-Final against Tampa Bay. Hunkie Cooper was the Ironman of the Game in 1997.
Injury Report: OL/DL Lindsay Hassell, QB Travis Cole, and OL/DL Pete Tramontanas are all on IR. K Jason Witczak is out for the season with a torn right ACL. FB/LB James Williams is out for the season with a ruptured left Achilles. The Rattlers placed OS Terence Davis and FB/LB Joe Jackson on IR prior to the Semi-Final game.
Did You See That?: When kicker Jason Witczak went down with a knee injury late in the game against New Orleans, Danny White needed a kicker. White called upon the multi-faceted Hunkie Cooper to handle the place kicking duties. Amazingly enough, it wasnt the first time Cooper had kicked off. During the 1993 season, Cooper kicked due to an injury to Luis Zendejas. Just for good measure, Cooper also threw a touchdown pass against the VooDoo.
Mr. Sack Attack: Bryan Henderson finished fourth in the AFL with eight QB sacks. Thanks to his two sack performance against Dallas on 4/18, Henderson set the Rattlers single season record for sacks in a season. He broke the record held by Stacy Evans and Andy Coviello. Henderson also tied Evans Rattlers career mark with 11 QB sacks. Henderson tied the mark in only his second AFL season. Henderson was also named Defensive Player of the Week following the win over San Jose on 5/30.
Pat Tillman Tribute: The Arizona Rattlers will honor the memory of the late Pat Tillman by wearing a #40 sticker on their helmets. Vince Amey, who was a teammate of Tillmans at ASU, is also wearing a #42 sticker on his helmet, Tillmans number for the Sun Devils.
Sun Devil Connection: Arizona State is strongly represented by the Rattlers. In addition to Danny White (1971-1973) and Tom Pace (2000-2001), ASU alums Justin Taplin (1998-2002) and Vince Amey (1994-1997) also represent the Maroon and Gold on the Rattlers.
Weekly Honors: Kelvin Hunter was named the ADT Defensive Player of the Week following his six pass break ups in the Semi-Final win over Colorado Bryan Henderson was named the ADT Defensive Player of the Week following the 50-43 win over San Jose on 5/30 Wendall Gaines was named the AFLWA Player of the Week following the 5/30 San Jose game, thanks to his blocked FG and touchdown recovery Hunkie Cooper was named the US Army Ironman of the Week following the win over New York on 2/29 Sherdrick Bonner has been named the Baby Ruth Real Deal Offensive Player of the Week twice, first after the win over Dallas on 4/18, and following the win over the SaberCats on 5/9. Bonner was also named the AFLWA Player of the Week those same two weeks.
20, 000: Thanks to his 46-yard night against Las Vegas on 4/10, Hunkie Cooper became the second man in the 18-year history of the AFL to reach 20,000 career all-purpose yards. Cooper joins George LaFrance as the only men to hit that mark.
30, 000: Rattlers QB Sherdrick Bonner became only the second man in AFL history to pass for over 30,000 yards thanks to his 270-yard performance against LA on 5/1. Bonner has 30,423 career yards, while Detroits Andy Kelly is the all-time leader with 31, 671. Former Rattler Aaron Garcia has also surpassed the 30, 000 yard mark.
600: With his third quarter TD pass to Tom Pace in the win over San Jose on 5/9, Sherdrick Bonner became only the third man in AFL history to throw for 600 touchdown passes. Bonner (611) joins Aaron Garcia (635) and Andy Kelly (615) in the exclusive club.
Record in Waiting: Next season, Hunkie Cooper needs 38 all-purpose yards to pass George LaFrance as the all-time AFL leader. Playoff statistics do not count towards the total.
Quick Hits: The Rattlers are 15-6 all-time on NBC Arizona has won at least nine games for eight straight years The Rattlers have finished under .500 only once, their inaugural season of 1992 This season, the Rattlers gave away 77, 133 chalupas. Every time Arizona scored 50 or more points in a home game, Taco Bell gave each fan a free chalupa Arizona finished the regular season 5-3 at home for the second straight year The Rattlers are 65-26 all-time at home in the regular season The Rattlers have won 10 or more games nine times in 13 years In the Rattlers two championship seasons, the team finished 11-4 (1994) and 15-2 (1997).
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