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Austin Wranglers game notes

February 23, 2005 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Austin Wranglers News Release

February 25, 2005, 7:30 p.m. CT., Frank Erwin Center


The Austin Wranglers-Georgia Force game will be streamed live on AFLNet. AFLNet is a premium feature accessed on the AFL’s official website, AFLNet offers fans the most comprehensive online coverage of the AFL. Members can access Live Broadcast Video Streaming of AFL games, weekly highlights and recaps for each AFL Game, including the Game of the Week and archived games. Watch AFL games, meet the players, and get behind-the-scenes interviews with players and coaches and audio streaming of This Week in the AFL.

Austin Wranglers football games can be heard on AM 1300 The Zone with hosts from The Buck on Sports, Erin Hogan calling play-by-play and Bucky Godbolt handling the color announcing. Head Coach Skip Foster will analyze Friday’s game and take phone calls on The Zone 1300 AM with Bucky Godbolt Monday night, 7-8 p.m. The player’s perspective can be heard with Aaron Humphrey on “Hump Day” with Bucky and Erin at 6:40 a.m. every Wednesday morning on the Buck on Sports on AM 1300 The Zone.


Week Date Opponent Time/Results
1 Sunday, Jan. 30 PHILADELPHIA SOUL L 35-66
2 Sunday, Feb. 6 @ Tampa Bay Storm L 45-62
3 Friday, Feb 11 LOS ANGELES AVENGERS L 55-64
4 Saturday , Feb. 19 @ Grand Rapids W 73-61
5 Friday, Feb. 25 GEORGIA FORCE 7:30 p.m.
6 Friday, March 4 @ Las Vegas 9:00 p.m.
7 Sunday, March 13 DALLAS DESPERADOS 3:00 p.m.
8 Saturday, March 19 NEW YORK DRAGONS 7:30 p.m.
9 Friday March 25 @ Orlando Predators 6:30 p.m.
10 Friday, April 1 NEW ORLEANS VOODOO 7:30 p.m.
11 Friday, April 8 @ Georgia Force 6:30 p.m.
12 Sunday, April 17 TAMPA BAY STORM 12:00 p.m.
13 Friday, April 22 @ Arizona Rattlers 9:00 p.m.
14 Saturday, April 30 @ Columbus Destroyers 6:00 p.m.
15 Saturday, May 7 ORLANDO PREDATORS 7:30 p.m.
16 Saturday, May 14 @ New Orleans Voodoo 7:30 p.m.
17 BYE

All game times and locations are subject to change


*Times listed are ET
Friday, February 25
8:00 pm- Tampa Bay @ New Orleans
8:30pm- Georgia @ Austin
8:30 pm- Orlando @ Chicago

Saturday, February 26
8:30 pm- Las Vegas @ Nashville

Sunday, February 27
3:00 pm- Columbus @ Grand Rapids
3:00 pm- Los Angeles @ Colorado
3:00 pm- Dallas @ Philadelphia
3:00 pm- Arizona @ New York


GRAND RAPIDS-- John Fitzgerald went 15-of-25 for 270 yards and threw six touchdowns as the Austin Wranglers (1-3) picked up their first win of the season on Saturday night in a 73-61 victory over the Grand Rapids Rampage. Wranglers’ WR/DB Kevin Nickerson earned U.S. Army Ironman of the Game honors after catching five balls for 108 yards and scoring three big touchdowns. OS Tacoma Fontaine reeled in four catches for 104 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown reception, which set a record as the longest touchdown pass/catch in Wrangler history. The Austin Wranglers were able to capitalize on an onside kick in the first quarter, but the Rampage came up with three offensive touchdowns, including one that came after an Austin fumble on the goal line in their second possession of the game. Special teams stepped up again in the second quarter when veteran DS Cedric Walker came up with a botched Rampage kickoff return for a touchdown and K Tony Dodson’s PAT gave the Wranglers their first lead of the game. Fitzgerald connected with WR/LB Ira Gooch later in the quarter for a 20-yard TD reception and the Rampage managed to tie game leaving the score 27-27 at the end of the half. The Wranglers scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter, and the defense managed to keep Grand Rapids from scoring for more than 18 minutes of play, stopping Grand Rapids on three consecutive possessions with a missed field goal, fourth down and an interception by Walker. The fourth quarter was a shoot-out with each team trading scores until the Wranglers DS Kelvin Hunter recovered a Grand Rapids onside kick and returned it for a touchdown. The Wranglers offense followed up with yet another onside kick return which started a 2-play, 8-yard drive that resulted in a 3-yard rushing touchdown by FB/LB Henry Bryant.


AUSTIN— On Easter Sunday, the crowd at the Frank Erwin Center was ever present as they motivated a stingy defense that led to Austin’s lowest point total allowed all season, beating the Georgia Force 42-26. In the opening quarter, neither team put any points on the board. Both Austin and Georgia each turned the ball over on downs. Wranglers QB John Kaleo threw for 247 yards, eclipsing the 2,500 yard passing mark on the season. Defensive player of the game OL/DL Tom Briggs had two pass breakups as well as a sack in the game. In the second quarter, the games scoring finally opened up after a defensive struggle. Force quarterback Leon Murray connected with wide receiver Morris Anderson for two of their touchdowns. Austin held Georgia to a season low 190 total offensive yards as they moved to 6-3 on the season.

Wranglers Defensive Stops

Stops on 4th down 2
Stops in Red Zone 1
Interceptions 5
Fumble Recoveries 4
Field Goals 6
End of Half Stops 3
Safeties 0
Total Stops on the Season 23
Average Stops/Game 5.75

Big Plays…

Wranglers vs. Philadelphia
Philadelphia’s 2nd Half Stand
Despite a competitive 1st half, the Wranglers were held to only one TD in each 3rd and 4th quarter. The Soul’s offense went on to take a commanding lead as they scored 21 points in the 4th quarter.

Wranglers @ Tampa Bay
Pesavento’s 1st Quarter Injury
After throwing an incomplete pass, Pesavento was hit by Storm LB Nyle Wiren, causing him to leave the game.
Fitzgerald’s Interception
On the Wranglers first drive of the 2nd quarter, QB John Fitzgerald was intercepted by Storm DS, Jonathan Ordway. The interception was returned 49 yards for a Storm touchdown.

Wranglers vs. Los Angeles
Special Teams End Zone Bounce
Following a Storm kickoff to the Wranglers end zone, the ball took an unfortunate bounce off of the uprights and landed on the two-yard line and landed in the arms of Bernard Riley as he ran it in for a Storm TD.

Wranglers @ Grand Rapids
Walker’s End Zone Interception
Cedric Walkers 3rd quarter end zone interception helped to build momentum for the Wranglers going into the 4th quarter. The Wranglers went on to out score the Rampage 25-20 in the 4th to earn their first win on the season.

A Closer Look

Scores vs. Touches
Kevin Nickerson 7th in Receiving TDs
17 catches for 9 TDs
Henry Bryant 9 carries for 2 TDs
Ira Gooch 8 catches for 3 TDs

Yards Per Catch
Tacoma Fontaine 6th in the league
18 yards per catch
David Hill 3rd in the league
19.3 yards per catch
Passer Rating
John Fitzgerald 5th in the league; 116.5

Touchdown Percentage Rating
John Fitzgerald 3rd in the league; 16.5%

2005 Stat Comparison
Games Played 4 4
First Downs 77 77
Total Yards Gained 1,218 1,057
Average/Game 304.5 264.3
Net Rushing Yards 84 51
Average/Game 21 13.5
Net Passing Yards 1,134 1,003
Average/Game 283.5 250.8
Kickoff Returns 26 17
Average Yards/Return 13.9 18.6
Time of Possession 30:40 29:30
Touchdowns 30 25
Points Scored 204 150

Wranglers are 2nd in the league with 11 total take-aways and several players are ranked in the AFL for their defensive performances.

Interceptions made
Kelvin Hunter – tied for 2nd; 2 for 20 yards
Darrin Chiaverini – tied for 16th; 1 for 9 yards
Charlie Davidson-- tied for 16th; 1
Cedric Walker-- tied for 16th; 1

Fumble Recoveries
Angel Rubio – tied for 4th; 2
Tom Briggs – tied for 13th; 1
Darrin Chiaverini– tied for 13th; 1
Kelvin Hunter– tied for 13th; 1
Cedric Walker– tied for 13th; 1

Forced Fumbles
Aaron Humphrey – tied for 2nd; 2


ADT Defensive US Army
Offensive Player of the Game Player of the Game Ironman of the Game

Wranglers vs. Philadelphia OS Steve Smith (PHI) WR/DB Arkee Thompson (PHI) WR/LB Sean Scott (PHI)
Wranglers @ Tampa Bay WR/DB Clif Dell (TBS) DS Jonathan Ordway (TBS) WR/LB Lawrence Samuels (TBS)
Wranglers vs. Los Angeles QB John Kaleo (LAA) FB/LB Michael Spicer (LAA) K Remy Hamilton (LAA)
Wranglers @ Grand Rapids QB Michael Bishop (GRR) DS Cedric Walker (AUS) WR/DB Kevin Nickerson (AUS)


· 40.0 total sacks
· 176.5 total tackles
· 81 receptions
· 844 receiving yards
· 416 receptions
· 92 receiving touchdowns
· 7,036 all-purpose yards
· 21 interceptions
· 327.5 tackles

· 41 games played
· 88 yards rushing
· 7,709 yards passing
· 127 passing touchdowns
· 635 pass completions
· 22 receiving touchdowns
· 1,292 receiving yards
· 84 receptions
· 1,833 all-purpose yards
· 3.0 total sacks
· 5.0 total tackles for loss
· 4 forced fumbles
· 21 total tackles

· 4.0 total sacks
· 6.0 total tackles for loss
· 6 forced fumbles
· 25 total tackles
· 127.5 tackles
· 4 interceptions
· 26 breakups
· 555 total tackles
· 471 solo tackles
· 82 breakups



FB/LB Henry Bryant
This rookie stepped up against Grand Rapids to help the Wranglers to their first win of the season. He recorded Wranglers single game records in rush attempts (6), yards rushing (18) and rushing touchdowns (2). He leads the team this season in rushing with 28 yards on nine attempts for a 3.1 yard average per carry. He also recovered a Grand Rapids on-side kick and returned it six yards to start the Austin drive on the Grand Rapids five-yard line.

WR/DB Kevin Nickerson
In his first AFL season, Nickerson is playing like an old pro. He leads the Wranglers in receiving yards (302) and touchdowns (9) and ranks in the top 10 in the league in scoring. Last week against Grand Rapids, he had his second 100-yard receiving performance of the season as he caught five passes for 108 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned one kickoff for 13 yards to rank second on the team in all-purpose yards with 121.

DS Cedric Walker
As one of the most veteran players on the Wranglers, Walker helps to hold down the secondary and helps his younger teammates to learn the arena game. Last week in Grand Rapids, he made quite a showing as he led the defense with 5.5 tackles and an interception. In the second quarter of last week’s game, Walker also recovered Tony Dodson’s kickoff from the nets to take it in for a touchdown.


OS Troy Bergeron
This AFL rookie is making a big impact for the Force. He is tied for second in the league in scoring, ranks third in receptions, fourth in all-purpose yards, and is in the top ten in receiving yards, yards from scrimmage, and kickoff return yards. Last week against Las Vegas, he caught nine passes for 49 yards and three touchdowns and returned one kickoff for ten yards.

DS Kevin Gaines
In his eighth year in the league, Gaines holds the 2005 AFL single game high for interceptions as he hauled in three last week in their game against Las Vegas. Last week, he also led the Force defense with 7.5 tackles and added a kickoff return for three yards. He ranks fifth in the league in solo tackles with 25 and seventh in total tackles (29).

WR/LB Derek Lee
As a rookie, Lee has shown a strong presence on both sides of the ball for the Force this season. He ranks second on the team in receptions (26) and receiving yards (299). He ranks in the top 20 in the league in receptions and receiving yards and in the top 25 in scoring. Defensively, he is tied for first in the league in fumble recoveries with three. Last week against Las Vegas, he caught eight passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns on offense and defensively recorded 2.5 tackles and two fumble recoveries.


Head Coach Skip Foster is entering his second AFL season with the Austin Wranglers. Foster, deemed the second most winning coach in arenafootball2 history with a 44-10 record including an ArenaCup Championship, will again act as the Wranglers offensive coordinator in addition to carrying the head coaching duties. After finishing the team’s 2004 debut season with a commendable 8-8 record, Foster has built a 2005 team that will take the Wranglers to an ArenaBowl championship. In the team’s inaugural season performance, Foster’s offense scored 104 touchdowns, an average of 47.8 points per game, led the AFL in total offense for five weeks and remained one of the League’s top three total offenses for a total of fifteen weeks in 2004. The Wranglers offensive unit gained more than 300 yards in five different performances and had two 200+ receiving-yard games for AFL All-Rookie Tacoma Fontaine. Quarterback John Kaleo posted career-highs in attempts with 565 and completions with 352. Kaleo passed for more than 4,000 yards for his second consecutive season bringing his career total to 26,077 passing yards. Fontaine and veteran WR/DB Charlie Davidson led the Wranglers receivers combining for 1,959 of the teams 4,045 yards receiving and 37 of the team’s 82 receiving touchdowns. Prior to joining the Wranglers, Foster served as the head coach for the 2003 af2-Champion Tulsa Talons. Foster led the team to a 13-3 regular season record while accumulating 3,995 yards in total offense, 3,679 yards passing and 316 yards rushing. This offensive effort also concluded with Tulsa outscoring their opponents 823-690 in regular season play. The Talons totaled 745 yards in offense and outscored their postseason opponents 179-130 on their way to winning the 2003 ArenaCup. Foster made history in Tulsa as he became the only af2 coach to go undefeated at home over three consecutive regular seasons. Foster compiled a record of 82-39-2 at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas before moving to arena football. Foster coached the Red Ravens to six conference championships during his 12 seasons as the head coach. In 1990, Foster led Coffeyville to a national championship and an undefeated season. He was selected as Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Coach of the Year in both 1990 and 1991. After serving as an assistant to his father, Dick Foster, for four seasons at Coffeyville, Skip took over the head coaching duties where Dick won a national championship in 1983. They are the only father/son pair in the National Junior College Athletic Association to win a national championship at the same school. Skip played football for his father from 1979-1980 at Coffeyville.


On July 30, 2004, Doug Plank was announced as the new head coach of the Georgia Force becoming the fourth head coach in the team's history. Plank comes to the Force having served as the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Rattlers from 2002-2004, which included three consecutive ArenaBowl championship game births. Following a 3-5 start in 2004, the Rattlers turned their season around to finish with a league-tying best 11-5 record and secure the top seed in the AFL playoffs. In 2002, Plank helped guide the Rattlers defense to a number one regular season ranking in rushing defense and scoring defense. In his three years with the Rattlers, he coached four First Team All-Arena selections, two Second Team All-Arena players and four All-Ironman Team choices, including 2003 AFL Ironman of the Year Randy Gatewood. A former member of The Ohio State University football team, Plank played in three consecutive Rose Bowls, 1973, 1974, and 1975. While at Ohio State, he played for legendary coach Woody Hayes. Plank brings with him a wealth of football experience that includes an impressive career in the NFL. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 12 th round of the 1975 NFL Entry Draft and started at safety for eight seasons. The “46 Defense” created by Buddy Ryan was named for Plank's jersey number and aggressive style of play. Plank was also the first Bears rookie to ever lead the team in tackles. Following his playing career, Plank became a franchisee for the Burger King Corporation owning and operating 17 restaurants in three different states. Plank's professional history also includes experience as a member of the Rattlers broadcast team. Prior to becoming defensive coordinator, he spent five years as the Rattlers' radio analyst and two seasons as their television color analyst.
His broadcasting experience also includes stints with the Arizona Cardinals, Arizona State University Football, Fox Sports Net, Westwood One and Sports USA Radio Network. Plank and his wife Nancy have two children, Andrea and Michael.


Arial Attack
In his second start of the 2005 season, QB John Fitzgerald has managed to post the fifth-best passer rating in the AFL, 116.5, on 64 completions of 103 attempts for 870 yards and 17 touchdowns. This includes Fitzgerald’s career-long 49-yard touchdown pass to OS Tacoma Fontaine last Saturday night against Grand Rapids. The Wranglers success in their passing game has triggered the team’s rise among the AFL and the team is now fourth in the League in total offense. Under Fitzgerald’s’ leadership, the Wranglers passing offense remains third in the AFL with an average of 285.3 passing yards per game with Fitzgerald averaging 290 yards per game.

Managing Their Movement
The Wranglers offense has been able to move the ball on first down, averaging 7.63 yards per first down play. The Wranglers have also improved dramatically on their third down conversion rates. After the first two weeks of the season, the offense had only converted on two third-down attempts, a 13.3 percent conversion rate. Over the past two weeks, the Wranglers offense has managed to convert on 9 of 15 third down attempts, a 60 percent conversion rate. The Wranglers have also managed to improve their first-down conversion rate from a 40 percent rating after Week Two to a 42.9 percent rating after Week Four.

The Austin Wranglers front line has proved strong and has only allowed one sack on the quarterback so far this season in the home-opener against Philadelphia. The line’s superior protection has also allowed the Wranglers to rush for 84 yards and six touchdowns in just four games.

The Grind
The line has also played a big part in holding Wranglers opponents on third down 38.1 percent of the time, sixth best in the AFL. In addition to generating turnovers, the Wranglers defensive line and secondary have been able to combine for 12 passes defensed. WR/DB Charlie Davidson and DS Kelvin Hunter have each deflected four passes and FB/LB Richard McCleskey and DS Cedric Walker have each managed to break up two separate pass attempts by opposing quarterbacks.

Ball Control
The ball began bouncing the Wranglers way in Grand Rapids as the special teams unit was able to capitalize on several different key plays. The Wranglers were able to recover two onside kick attempts by the Rampage, one in the first quarter and one in the fourth. Rookie FB/LB Henry Bryant was able to snag the first-quarter attempt and two plays later, ran the ball in for the Wranglers first touchdown of the game. DS Kelvin Hunter picked the second onside kick and returned the ball for a touchdown, extending the Wranglers lead to 11 points later in the fourth quarter. Wranglers DS Cedric Walker managed to field a live ball in the end zone after a wild bounce on a Tony Dodson kickoff adding six points to the board for the Wranglers.

Stopping Short
The Wranglers special teams lead the league in kickoff coverage. The Wranglers coverage unit has been able to hold their opponents to an average start on their own 8.6 yard-line and has stopped the teams 21 times inside their own 10 yard-line. Kicker Tony Dodson is third in the AFL in touchbacks with a total of 16.

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