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Austin Wranglers game notes

March 16, 2005 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Austin Wranglers News Release


The Austin Wranglers home game will be televised locally on KXAN, Channel 36. All the action will begin at 7:30 p.m. (CT) with play-by-play provided by KXAN Sports Director Roger Wallace. Color commentary will be provided by Wranglers General Manager Glyn Milburn.

Austin Wranglers football games can be heard on AM 1300 The Zone with, Kent Koen calling play-by-play and co-host of The Buck on Sports, Bucky Godbolt handling the color announcing. Head Coach Skip Foster will analyze Saturday’s game and take phone calls on The Zone 1300 AM with Bucky Godbolt Tuesday 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 L 63-66
6 Friday, March 4 @ Las Vegas W 42-41
7 Sunday, March 13 DALLAS DESPERADOS L 52-28
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

2005 Stat Comparison
Games Played 7 6
First Downs 147 114
Total Yards Gained 2,028 1,405
Average/Game 289.7 234.2
Net Rushing Yards 151 92
Average/Game 21.6 15.3
Net Passing Yards 1,877 1,313
Average/Game 268.1 218.8
Kickoff Returns 37 29
Average Yards/Return 15.4 22.7
Time of Possession 31:01 27:57
Touchdowns 49 47
Points Scored 337 329


Austin — “The Cattle Drive on I-35” was a shootout full of penalties. The Dallas Desperados defeated the Austin Wranglers 52-28 as the two teams totaled 21 penalties for 129 yards. Austin’s John Fitzgerald completed 20 of 35 passes for 184 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Dallas’ Clint Stoerner completed 17 of 28 passes for 219 yards, five touchdowns and an interception. The Wranglers offense struggled, only coming up with four touchdowns on the day in a defensive battle against the League’s No. 1 defense in the Desperados. The game ended with a four-yard touchdown run by Dallas FB/LB Ja’mar Toombs leaving the score 52-28.


The Wranglers will hit the road next week to face their National Southern Division rivals, the Orlando Predators Saturday, March 25. This will be the first of the home-and-home series between the teams. The Predators will come to Austin May 7 for Austin’s final regular-season home contest.

Wranglers Defensive Stops

Stops on 4th down 3
Stops in Red Zone 1
Interceptions 8
Fumble Recoveries 6
Field Goals 8
End of Half Stops 4
Safeties 0
Total Stops on the Season 36
Average Stops/Game 5.1

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 Pesavento 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 of the season.

Wranglers vs. Georgia
Gooch’s Interception
After an impressive 32 yard return by Georgia, Wranglers LB, Ira Gooch stepped in and intercepted Matt Nagy’s pass on the Austin 4- yard line. Gooch would return the ball 21 yards to set up a Wranglers touchdown to put them on top 56-48 in the 4th quarter.
Nelson Garner Field Goal
Georgia Kicker Nelson Garner capped off the Force win with a 49-yard field goal with two seconds left in the game.

Wranglers @ Las Vegas
Mark Lewis’ Failed Extra Point
Despite a Las Vegas TD that put them up 41-36 late in the 4th quarter, Lewis’ extra point failed and, leaving the door wide open for the Wranglers.
Fitzgerald’s game winning TD
The Wranglers capitalized on a missed Gladiator field goal to take the lead 42-41 with no time left on the game clock.

Wranglers vs. Dallas
Nickerson’s Interception
Fitzgerald had a pass picked off on Austin’s first drive of the game. On Dallas’ third play of the ensuing drive, Nickerson intercepted Clint Stoerner’s pass which set up a Wranglers touchdown to bring the Wranglers within one.

Humphrey’s Defense
He stopped a second quarter touchdown by tackling Ricki Simpkins after a 27 yard gain. In the fourth quarter, he Sacked Stoerner on 3-24 to push them back to 4-30, and later that quarter, he forced a John Pettijohn fumble that Charlie Davidson returned 12 yards.

A Closer Look

Leading Scorers
Kevin Nickerson 11th in league
1 rush, 13 rec; 14 TDs
Darrin Chiaverini 23rd in league
8 rec; 8 TDs
Henry Bryant 39th in league
5 rush, 1 rec; 6 TDs
Passer Rating
John Fitzgerald 11h in the league, 109.7

Touchdown Percentage Rating
John Fitzgerald 9th in the league, 14.6%

Wranglers are 2nd in the league with 16 total take-aways and several players are ranked in the AFL for their defensive performances.

Interceptions Made
Kelvin Hunter – tied for 9th; 2 for 20 yards
Ira Gooch – tied for 31st; 1 for 21 yards
Darrin Chiaverini – tied for 31st; 1 for 9 yards
Kevin Nickerson – tied for 31st; 1 for 9 yards
Charlie Davidson – tied for 31st; 1 for 0 yards
Cedric Walker – tied for 31st; 1 for 0 yards
Dane Krager – tied for 31st; 1 for 0 yards

Fumble Recoveries
Angel Rubio – tied for 6th; 2
Tom Briggs – tied for 22nd; 1
Darrin Chiaverini– tied for 22nd; 1
Kelvin Hunter– tied for 22nd; 1
Cedric Walker– tied for 22nd; 1
Tony Dodson – tied for 22nd; 1
Bryan Henderson – tied for 22nd; 1
Dane Krager – tied for 22nd; 1
Charlie Davidson – tied for 22nd; 1
Kevin Nickerson – tied for 22nd; 1
Ramon Richardson – tied for 22nd; 1

Forced Fumbles
Aaron Humphrey – tied for 1st; 3

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)
Wranglers vs. Georgia QB Matt Nagy (GEO) DS Kevin Gaines (GEO) OS Troy Bergeron (GEO)
Wranglers @ Las Vegas WR/LB Darrin Chiaverini (AUS) DS Cedric Walker (AUS) FB/LB Dane Krager (AUS)
Wranglers vs. Dallas WR/DB Bobby Sippio (DAL) DS Jermaine Jones (DAL) WR/DB Will Pettis (DAL)

*Denotes Rookie

· 40.0 total sacks
· 178 total tackles
· 95 receptions
· 998 receiving yards
· 431 receptions
· 96 receiving touchdowns
· 7,184 all-purpose yards
· 21 interceptions
· 328.5 tackles
· 44 games played
· 8,457 yards passing
· 141 passing touchdowns
· 718 pass completions

· 22 receiving touchdowns
· 1,376 receiving yards
· 92 receptions
· 2,229 all-purpose yards
· 3.0 total sacks
· 5.0 total tackles for loss
· 4 forced fumbles
· 21 total tackles
· 5.0 total sacks
· 7.0 total tackles for loss
· 7 forced fumbles
· 33 total tackles

· 140 tackles
· 4 interceptions
· 28 breakups
· 13 receiving touchdowns
· 522 receiving yards
· 36 receptions
· 574.5 total tackles
· 489 solo tackles
· 83 breakups



WR/LB Ira Gooch
Gooch has made big plays for the Wranglers. This season he has 16 catches for 216 yards and four touchdowns. He also has one interception for a Wranglers high 21-yard return. Last week, Gooch caught three passes for 33 yards and Austin’s only touchdown in the fourth quarter.

FB/LB Richard McCleskey
Against Dallas, McCleskey ran once for a career and 2005 Wranglers-long 12 yards. On the season he has rushed seven times for 36 yards and ranks 23rd among league rushers. McKleskey has also contributed on the defensive side of the ball with 6.5 total tackles at Mack linebacker, one pass break-up and one quarterback hurry.

WR/DB Kevin Nickerson
Nickerson ranks high in the League in scoring (6th) and has 36 catches for 522 yards and 13 touchdowns. Lately, Nickerson has come on strong defensively. He has 18 total tackles on the season, 17 solo and a forced fumble. Last week against Dallas, he hauled in his first interception of the season that set the Wranglers up for a touchdown.


WR/LB Mike Horacek
In his eighth AFL season, Horacek is one of New York’s biggest offensive threats. Last week against Georgia, he caught eight passes for 100 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the Dragons in all-purpose yards this season with 475 and is ranked ninth in the AFL for scoring (90 points, 15 touchdowns), ranks 20th in receiving yards (475) and 21st in yards from scrimmage (475).

WR/DB Corey Johnson
In his third season with New York, Johnson is very effective on special teams. Last week, he took six kickoff returns 122 yards with a 55-yard long return. He has two touchdowns on kickoff returns and ranks second in the league in combined kickoff and missed field goal returns (averaging 26.2 yards per return).

DS Chris Angel
He is making a huge impact in his second AFL season as he recorded 8.5 tackles, an interception and a pass break-up last week. On the season, he has 42.5 total tackles, 38 solo, two interceptions, and six passes defensed. He is tied for third in special teams tackles (6.0), seventh in solo tackles (38), ninth in interceptions (2), and 12th in passes defensed (6).


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.


Weylan Harding will begin his first season as the new head coach of the Dragons in 2005. He joins the team from Columbus, where as the Destroyers' defensive coordinator he established a reputation as a highly-regarded defensive coach. He feels it is a great honor to coach the team he once played for and that it his passion to bring a championship to the franchise that started him on a path from player to coach in the AFL. Harding has spent the last three seasons as the Columbus/Buffalo franchise's defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. After his career as an AFL player concluded, Harding took his first coaching assignment with the Destroyers as their defensive backs coach for the 2000 season. Under his direct guidance, DS Prentice Taylor was an All-Rookie selection. The following season he mentored the defensive backs for the Rochester Brigade of arenafootball2, including current San Francisco cornerback Dwaine Carpenter who later followed him back to Buffalo. The Destroyers brought Harding back as their defensive coordinator in 2002. In 2003 the Destroyers' defense finished as the top-ranked unit in the AFL, allowing only 219.1 yards per game. His unit also finished second in the league in total defense with 238.5 yards per game, four in scoring defense with 46.9 yards per game and fourth in team interceptions with 21. He made the move with the franchise to Columbus for the 2004 season. As a player, Harding was a defensive specialist for the Iowa Barnstormers - now the Dragons - Nashville and Portland before retiring as a player with Buffalo in 2000. Harding had a standout collegiate career at Iowa State University where he was a key component to their defensive unit in the early '90s. In his junior season, he was named to the All-Big 8 team with 74 tackles and 21 pass deflections. At Iowa State, Harding majored in English. He is currently single and resides in Oyster Bay, NY.


Playing up
The New York Dragons will be the Wranglers fourth-consecutive opponent with a winning record. New York leads the AFL East with a 5-1 record. The Dragons posted their only loss on the road at Las Vegas in Week Two.

Defensive Pressure
The Wranglers and New York Dragons are both tied for second in the AFL in take-aways. The Wranglers have come up with 16 turnovers, eight fumble recoveries and eight interceptions. The Wranglers have recovered the second-most fumbles in the AFL so far this season, most of which have been a result of the line’s strong play up front. The Wranglers have forced a total of six fumbles this season, three by OL/DL Aaron Humphrey who is tied for most forced fumbles in the League. The Dragon’s turnovers have come via interceptions. Of the 16 take-aways credited to New York, 15 have been interceptions. Although those 15 interceptions have New York at the top of the League in interception percentage (6.4 percent), the Wranglers defense is ranked fourth in the League in percentage of passes intercepted (3.6 percent).

Offensive Matchup
The Wranglers offense ranks higher and has proven more productive that the Dragons. In the first seven weeks of the season, the Wranglers offensive unit has averaged 289.7 yards per game. Among the League, the Wranglers offense is rated seventh in total yards per game, rushing yards per game and passing yards per game. New York remains at the bottom of the League in production with the 17th-ranked offense overall, 11th in rushing and 16th in passing. The Wranglers have netted a higher average total rushing yards per game (AUS: 21.6, NYD: 15.3) and passing yards average (AUS: 268.1, NYD: 218.8). Austin’s ability to move the ball more efficiently should open up the scoring for the team and allow them to stay ahead of the Dragons.

Holding the Line
The Wranglers put up a strong front on the Dallas Desperados in Week Seven. On defense, the linemen combined to generate, three quarterback hurries, two sacks and a forced fumble. Offensively, the line managed to keep QB John Fitzgerald from hitting the turf and finished their third-straight game without allowing a sack.

Skills Breakdown
The Wranglers four leading receivers, WR/LB Darrin Chiaverini, WR/DB Kevin Nickerson, WR/DB Charlie Davidson and OS Tacoma Fontaine have combined for 26 receiving touchdowns so far this season. Their efforts and chemistry with QB John Fitzgerald have converted into 49 percent of the Wranglers scoring this season. With Fitzgerald’s deep receiving corps, the Wranglers have several weapons on offense to keep the ball moving in their direction. Dragons QB Aaron Garcia has connected with only three receivers, OS-WR/DB Mike Horacek, OS Kevin Swayne, and WR/DB Will Holder, to combine for 55 percent of the team’s scoring.

Special Sparks
This week’s match-up will pit the AFL’s best kickoff coverage unit of the Wranglers against the League’s best kickoff return team in the New York Dragons. The Wranglers has held their opponents to an average start on their own 8.3-yard line. The Dragons have averaged a start on their own 23.9-yard line. Wranglers Kicker Tony Dodson is tied for the most touchbacks in the League with 26. On coverage, the Wranglers have two players ranked in the League’s top 10 special teams tackles with DS Cedric Walker and OL/DL Tom Briggs each combining for 5.5 total special teams tackles this season.

And the rest…
To celebrate the first Saturday night home game on March 19, the Wranglers invite fans to dress in ‘70s attire and enjoy “Saturday Night Fever” at the Frank Erwin Center. The coin toss will be conducted by Texas Lottery Commissioner Tony Martinez as part of Texas Lottery Night and Carlos Fernandez, General Manager of KXAN, Channel 36. Popular Texas band Reckless Kelly will perform the National Anthem and local dance and cheerleading team Austin Cheer Factory will perform at halftime.

Lady Wranglers Dance Clinic
For aspiring dancers, the Lady Wranglers will host a day-long dance clinic on Saturday, April 16 at Full Court Fitness for children 5-16 years of age. Registration starts at 11 a.m.; the clinic runs from noon to 4 p.m. Dance clinic participants will be invited to perform during half-time at the April 17 Austin Wranglers game against the Tampa Bay Storm. The cost is $30 per child and includes the clinic, t-shirt and the child’s admission to the April 17 game.

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