Austin Wranglers game notes
Kansas City Brigade (1-6) at
Austin Wranglers (5-2)
Date: Saturday, March 18, 2006
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. (CST)
Site: The Frank Erwin Center (14,866)
Officials: Referee: Steve Pamon; Umpire: Wes Fritz; Head Linesman: Neil Brunner; Line Judge: R.G. Detillier; Back Judge: Tony Lombardo; Supervisor: Buddy Ward;
Series Record: Austin holds the series lead 1-0
Coaches (record reflects regular season and playoffs):
Skip Foster, AW - 3rd season (19-20)
Kevin Porter, KCB-1st season (1-6)
TV: The game will be televised in Kansas City only; Metro Sports KC with Dave Armstrong and Duke Frye (Play-by-Play), Jayice Pearson (Analyst) and Danni Boatwright (Sideline)
Radio: KVET, AM 1300, The ZONE with Bucky Godbolt, Erin Hogan and Kevin Dunn (LIVE)
Web: AFL Net
The Austin Wranglers will be televised on FSN Southwest for five games in 2006. Fans can check out other AFL action around the league Sundays on NBC or on OLN.
All 16 Wranglers games can be heard on KVET (1300, The Zone) with Erin Hogan, Bucky Godbolt and Kevin Dunn at home and Kent Koen with Glyn Milburn on the road.
ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE CELEBRATES 20 SEASONS
In March of 1990, the U.S. Patent Office issued patent for AFL game system, making it the only sports league in history to play a rival-free game. Years later, the AFL is still going strong and celebrating it's 20th anniversary.
The 20th season concludes in Las Vegas for the second consecutive year when ArenaBowl XX is played at The Thomas & Mack Center on Sunday, June 11. Follow the 20th season action on arenafootball.com and for ArenaBowl XX info, ArenaBowl.com.
THIS WEEK IN WRANGLERS FOOTBALL
The Wranglers will play the second of a three-game home stand after playing five consecutive road games when they host the Kansas City Brigade on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Coming off a tough loss to the New York Dragons and losing lineman Tom Briggs to injured reserve, the Wranglers look to bounce back and reverse the momentum into their favor.
NEW YORK ESCAPES AUSTIN WITH A WIN, 59-56
A late push by the Austin Wranglers was not enough as they fell at home to the New York Dragons 59-56, in front of 10,040 at the Frank Erwin Center. New York goes to 4-3 and the Wranglers move to 5-2 on the season. The Dragons took the lead late on a five-yard touchdown catch by Mike Horacek and then extended their lead to 10 with a 48-yard Jesse Obert field goal. Wranglers quarterback
SERIES HISTORY-WRANGLERS HOLD SERIES LEAD 1-0
In the only ever match up between these two teams; the Wranglers stole a win 37-33 in the Brigade's first ever home game. The win moved the Wranglers to 3-0 to start the season and dropped the Brigade to 0-3. Wranglers defensive specialist broke up an Andy Kelly pass as time expired to secure the win for the Wranglers. Kansas City enters Saturday's game 1-6 and 0-3 in the Southern Division.
WEEK SEVEN TOP PERFORMANCES
Robinson: For the second straight week, Robinson returned a kickoff for a TD, this time it was a 50 yard return. Overall he had five returns for 143 yards. He also tallied three receptions for 35 yards and one TD receiving.
Nickerson: Recorded a 100 yard receiving performance on six catches for four TDs. Also returned one kickoff for 15 yards. Had 0.5 tackles on defense.
Lewis: He had six receptions for 87 yards against the Dragons.
Mason: Against the Dragons, Mason had 7.5 tackles, one pass breakup as he nearly intercepted several passes.
WRANGLERS AND THE KANSAS CITY CONNECTION
Several of the Austin Wranglers players and coaches have distinct ties to the Kansas City area including the states of Kansas and Missouri.
-Head Coach Skip Foster: Attended Missouri Western State College...Served as an assistant to his father Dick Foster for four seasons at Coffeyville Junior College...Took over coaching duties from father at Coffeyville...Both won national championships.
-Michael Foster, Secondary Coach, Special Teams, Director of Pro Scouting: Played football at the University of Kansas from 1973-74 and graduated from there...Began coaching career at Archbishop O'Hara in Kansas City from 1977-80...Served as an assistant coach at Coffeyville with cousin Skip Foster...Also coached at Central Missouri State and Southwest Missouri State.
-Kevin Nickerson: Attended Central Missouri State...Hometown is Kansas City and attended Central High School.
-Henry Bryant: Attended Kansas State University
-Angel Rubio: Attended S.W. Missouri State
-Ramon Richardson: Hometown of Kansas City
AFL THIRD YEAR HEAD COACHES
COACHES BEGINNING THIRD SEASON
WITH SAME TEAM
Wranglers Head Coach Skip Foster joins the head men in Colorado and Dallas, all in their third season as head coach with their current team. Mike Dailey and the Crush went on to an ArenaBowl XIX victory, while both Foster and McClay are both looking for their first playoff bid with their respective teams.
Take a look at their records:
(Arena Bowl XIX Champions)
*All three of these coaches teams currently lead their respective divisions*
WRANGLERS PLAYER MILESTONES
Amongst the Wranglers veterans and newer AFL players, there are several players with career milestones within reach. Take a look...
OL/DL TOM BRIGGS
41.0 total sacks
191 total tackles
FB/LB HENRY BRYANT
9 rushing touchdowns
2 receiving touchdowns
125 rushing yards
WR/LB DARRIN CHIAVERINI
1,569 receiving yards
QB JOHN FITZGERALD
59 games played
12,279 yards passing
204 passing touchdowns
1,044 pass completions
DS DONVETIS FRANKLIN
375.5 total tackles
80 pass breakups
OL/DL AARON HUMPHREY
7.0 total sacks
7.5 total tackles for loss
8 forced fumbles
53.5 total tackles
FB/LB DANE KRAGER
14 rushing touchdowns
315 rushing yards
1 receiving touchdown
WR/DB KEVIN NICKERSON
33 receiving touchdowns
1,417 receiving yards
DS DAMON MASON
770.5 total tackles
125 games played
WR/DB SEDRICK ROBINSON
58 receiving touchdowns
3,694 receiving yards
19 rushing touchdowns
21 kick return touchdowns
HOW THE WRANGLERS WERE BUILT...
The Wranglers are led by a strong core of 15 returning players from last year's team. To further bolster the roster, especially on defense, Austin actively pursued free agents and trades during the off-season and added 11 new players.
#93 Tom Briggs, OL/DL - 11th year, 41.0 career sacks
#37 Greg Brown, WR/DB - former UT Longhorn
#6 Brent Browner, DS - in his third season with Austin
#33 Henry Bryant, FB/LB - led the Wranglers in rushing in 2005
#11 Darrin Chiaverini, WR/LB - led the Wranglers in receptions in '05
#16 John Fitzgerald, QB - 6th season and has led team to 5-2 start in 2006, adding six rushing scores
#49 Aaron Humphrey, OL/DL - 1.5 sacks in 2006
#40 Dane Krager, FB/LB - 104 yards and ranks 2nd in '06
#53 Marcus McKenzie, OL/DL - veteran center
#28 Kevin Nickerson, WR/DB - led Wranglers in receiving yards in rookie season with 1,028
#91 Ramon Richardson, OL/DL - has two forced fumbles, a sack and two touchdown catches
#68 Angel Rubio, OL/DL - 0.5 sacks in three games
#3 Todd Sievers, K - 6/14 in field goals, 43/49 PAT
#56 Eric Thomas, OL/DL - starting center
#9 P.J. Winston, WR/DB - in his second Austin season
#73 Donovan Arp, OL/DL - played in 11 games in 2005 for Philadelphia
#4 Donvetis Franklin, DS - back-to-back defensive player of the game in 2006, 2nd in tackles for Columbus in 2005
#7 Deveron Harper, DS - 1st year, from NFL
#90 Larrell Johnson, OL/DL - traded by Dallas for Roc Haith
#87 Derrick Lewis, OS - 1st year, from NFL
#99 De'Angelo Lloyd, OL/DL - signed after being released by New York
#10 Torrance Marshall, FB/LB - scored his first AFL touchdown and made a game-saving pass breakup against Georgia in week six
#2 Damon Mason, DS - tied for the league lead with six interceptions in 2006, leading tackler in AFL history
#5 Chance Mock, QB - 1st year as backup in AFL
#25 Sedrick Robinson, WR/DB - veteran two-way player and kick return specialist
#8 Sir Mawn Wilson, WR/LB - 7th season and has Super Bowl ring with Denver Broncos
THE LAST TIME:KANSAS CITY vs. AUSTIN
2/12/06 - Austin 37, KANSAS CITY 33
The Wranglers got off to the best start in franchise history after handing the Kansas City Brigade their third consecutive loss. The Wranglers and Brigade traded scores a majority of the game, but on the final Kansas City drive, Donvetis Franklin broke up Andy Kelly's final pass attempt to clinch the 37-33 victory. Wranglers quarterback John Fitzgerald completed 25-of-41 passes for a season-high 252 yards and three touchdowns. Fitzgerald also found the end zone once on the ground. The Wranglers defense proved once again that it is a serious force as it managed to contain Brigade quarterback Andy Kelly. In past games Kelly has averaged 351 yards against the Wranglers, but in this game he was held to 217 yards in the air.
QB ANDY KELLY vs. WRANGLERS
One of the AFL's most prolific passers, Andy Kelly now leads his sixth AFL team, with the Kansas City Brigade. Here's a look at how he has played against the Wranglers:
2/12/06 Austin 37, KANSAS CITY 33
Earlier this year, Kelly got his first shot at the Wranglers as part of the Kansas City Brigade. Although he had another strong game, his 21-of-37 performance was not enough as the Brigade fell to the Wranglers 37-33. During the course of the game Kelly threw three touchdown passes and managed to go without throwing any interceptions.
5/14/05 NEW ORLEANS 69, Austin 68
During his last meeting of 2005 against the Wranglers, Kelly finally found a way to defeat the Wranglers. Kelly completed 34-of-46 passes for 361 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. Kelly's 361 yards passing is the most by any opponent quarterback in Wranglers history.
4/1/05 AUSTIN 56, New Orleans 55
Kelly had a chance to pay the Wranglers back in 2005, but despite another strong performance Kelly and the VooDoo ultimately fell to the Wranglers after a las second missed field goal attempt. For the game, Kelly completed 28-of-44 pass attempts for 338 yards and eight touchdowns. Kelly threw one interception which was the lone VooDoo turnover.
3/18/04 Austin 70, DETROIT 58
In 2004, Kelly completed 24-of-38 pass attempts for a Wranglers opponent season high 355 yards to go along with six touchdowns and one interception. Detroit still fell as Austin quarterback John Kaleo threw seven touchdowns in the Wranglers victory.
ANDY KELLY'S NUMBERS VS. WRANGLERS
* Current Record: Wranglers 3, Kelly 1
* Kelly's Total Yardage vs. Wranglers: 1,271
* Kelly's Total Touchdowns vs. Wranglers: 26
* Kelly's Completion Percentage vs. Wranglers: 65%
* Kelly's Total Interceptions Thrown vs. Wranglers:4
KANSAS CITY - PLAYERS TO WATCH
OL/DL BJ COHEN
Joining Andy Kelly from New Orleans, the 2005 All-Arena first team and U.S. Army All-Ironman Team member brings seven years of AFL experience to the Brigade. The OL/DL has done a great job of leading a line that has not only protected Andy Kelly but also opened up holes that have allowed Dawan Moss to be the Leagues fourth leading rusher.
WR/DB JEREL MYERS
The Brigade signed Myers as a rookie free agent in 2005 and he has made an immediate impact in the league. Leading his team in receptions (55) and yardage (559), Myers has been an offensive sparkplug for the Brigade.
OS STEVE SMITH
Smith is the Brigade's second leading receiver and has developed into a game breaking player after six years in the AFL. Last week in the loss against the Soul, Smith led the Brigade in receiving with 81 yards and two touchdowns off six receptions.
FB/LB DAWAN MOSS
Moss is another former VooDoo player and has found his home with the Brigade this season. Currently, Moss is tied for fourth in the AFL in rushing with 80 yards. He averages 3.1 yards per carry and is tied for sixth in this category. Last time these teams met, Moss ran for 34 yards on five carries and one touchdown.
WE MEET AGAIN
The Austin Wranglers and Kansas City Brigade have met once in AFL competition, but the teams' head coaches definitely have a longer history. Joining the New Orleans VooDoo as the defensive coordinator, Porter has coached against the Skip Foster coached Wranglers since 2004, when both teams joined the AFL.
In 2003, Foster's Tulsa Talons defeated Kevin Porter's Macon Knights 58-40 in front of a sold out crowd during the af2 ArenaCup Championship Game. Now the two winningest coaches in af2 history face off again in Kansas City giving Porter another shot at Coach Foster and the 2-0 Wranglers.
*Both coaches also have prior Kansas City ties*
Porter comes to the Kansas City Brigade with a reputation as one of the Arena Football League's finest young defensive minds with coaching experience in the AFL and af2. In his first season as an AFL defensive coordinator, the VooDoo finished the season with the second ranked scoring defense in the AFL, the sixth ranked defense and the fourth ranked pass defense. Porter is the winningest coach in af2 history with a 45-27 record. The head coach of the Macon Knights from '01-03 before joining the VooDoo, Porter took his team to the ArenaCup 2003 championship final game. Also, coached with Pensacola Barracudas and Orlando Predators. A 3rd round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1988, Porter was a four-year starter at strong safety for the Chiefs, recording 290 tackles, six forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries during career.
Head Coach Skip Foster is entering his third AFL season with the Austin Wranglers. In the Wranglers second season (6-10), the offense scored 109 touchdowns, with 18 different players recording points on the year. Five of his receivers combined for 11 games in which they had 100 or more receiving yards. In the team's inaugural season performance (8-8), 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. Prior to joining the Wranglers, Foster served as the head coach for the 2003 af2-Champion Tulsa Talons. Foster compiled a record of 82-39-2 at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas before moving to Arena Football.
With many off-season improvements to the Wranglers team, one area was of extreme focus...DEFENSE! Making waves in the free agent market, the Wranglers nabbed the AFL's all-time leading tackler in Damon Mason, a sturdy and proven DS in Donvetis Franklin and tapped the pool of former NFL talent in DS Deveron Harper. Refer to the following sections for a breakdown of what these players will offer the Wranglers in 2006.
ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS: DAMON MASON
Now in his ninth AFL season, no other player in League history has perfected the art of tackling better than Wranglers DS Damon Mason. Tackling is not the only skill Mason is strong in; he also set new career-highs in 2005 in pass break ups.
Here's a breakdown of Mason's career accomplishments:
AFL Career Highs (Career):
-Mason was the first player in AFL history to reach over 700 tackles
Pass Breakups: 116
AFL Career Highs (Season):
-Set AFL record for most tackles in a single-season
Pass Breakups: 34
-Led the AFL in 2005 in both categories
AFL Career Highs (Game):
Tackles: 17.0, vs. Los Angeles (5/21/05)
Interceptions: 3, at Arizona (2/3/06)
Pass Breakups: 8, vs. Los Angeles (5/21/05)
Last season, Mason became the first player ever to play in 17 games in two consecutive seasons.
2004: Carolina Cobras/Orlando Predators
2005: Orlando Predators/Grand Rapids Rampage
*Mason achieved this feat after switching teams and missing the bye week both years.
MORE THAN THE HAIR:DONVETIS FRANKLIN
Donvetis Franklin is easy to pick out on the field. Why? Because of the hair... Franklin's trademark dreadlocks set him apart from the rest. He cites his most embarrassing moment when he was on the field and some of his dreadlocks got ripped out in a play.
With his hair, he also brings intensity and ability to the Wranglers this season. He has his own style! Here is a look at how Franklin has made his way through the AFL ranks:
2006: Named the Defensive Player of the Game in weeks three and four. Leads Wranglers in pass breakups with 12.
2005: Played all 16 games for the Columbus Destroyers and had 77 tackles on the year.
2004: Played in all 16 games for the New York Dragons, finishing fourth in the AFL in tackles with 84.5.
2003: Played in all 16 games for the New York Dragons and led the AFL in tackles with 93.5.
2002: In his rookie season, played in 14 games and led the team in tackles with 90.5.
INSTANT AFL IMPACT: DEVERON HARPER
-This talented rookie brings experience from patrolling the secondary in the NFL. Making the transition to the AFL has been easier for Harper than most and he is ready for what the AFL's best has to bring him.
2006: 19.5 tackles total including one fumble recovery and one pass breakup thus far. Against Dallas, had a game-high six tackles, which led all Wranglers.
In seven games, the Wranglers defense has emerged as one of the strongest in the AFL. The defense has recorded seven interceptions with six coming from Damon Mason and one from Sir Mawn Wilson. The Wranglers line has six sacks this season, including two sacks against Dallas. These sacks by Tom Briggs and Dane Krager were the first the Desperados had allowed all season. Ramon Richardson added a sack against Tampa Bay, the second of his career.
Wranglers starting quarterback John Fitzgerald emerged last season as one of the League's most underrated QB's. Thus far in 2006, Fitzgerald is 142-of-227. He has also added six rushing touchdowns with 16 carries for 34 yards.
As the Wranglers undisputed starter this season, he will have an opportunity to utilize his prior starting experience to maximize his output with his favorite targets:
OS DERRICK LEWIS
In his rookie season in the AFL, Lewis has come on strong, as he was one of Fitzgerald's favorite targets Lewis currently leads the team with 53 receptions for 631 yards and five touchdowns in 2006. He is ranked tied for 6th in the AFL in receptions and 6th in receiving yards.
WR/DB KEVIN NICKERSON
Nickerson proved to be a diamond in the rough after being signed following the 2005 Wranglers open tryouts. Starting 11 of 16 games in 2005, Nickerson helped the Wranglers air attack with a team high 1,028 yards on 85 catches for 23 touchdowns. Nickerson proved he could run the ball as well, recording a touchdown while carrying the ball twice. The AFL also took notice to Nickerson's abilities, placing him on the AFL's All-Rookie Team in 2005.
Now back in his second season, Nickerson is second on the team with 40 for 432 yards and 11 touchdowns, including four against New York. He also has four rushing touchdowns. Nickerson led the team in receptions and yards in week seven and has scored nine touchdowns in his last three games.
FB/LB DANE KRAGER
Fitzgerald often finds Krager coming out of the backfield. Krager has also been getting the job done on the ground with 104 yards rushing on 28 attempts with five touchdowns in 2006.
WR/LB SIR MAWN WILSON
Wilson is playing in his 7th AFL season and has played in three games since joining the Wranglers. He spent 2006 training camp with the Columbus Destroyers, before being picked up by the Wranglers. In his debut performance with his new team against Dallas, Wilson had one reception for nine yards and one touchdown. Against Tampa Bay, he had two catches for 18 yards and a touchdown. Wilson had two receptions for 20 yards against Georgia in week six. Wilson added two more receptions for 16 yards against New York.
SED STEPS INTO GEAR
After five solid years in the AFL, Sedrick Robinson is now with his fourth AFL team. A highly sought after free agent, Robinson possesses strengths on both offense and defense, while being considered one of the best kick returners in League history. Having played with Wranglers DS Donvetis Franklin last season in Columbus, these two split the special teams duties there.
Robinson is a beast off the nets and wears #25 because of George LaFrance, who was #3 on the AFL's 20 Greatest Players. LaFrance worked with Robinson in 2001 to help him become a force off the nets.
Robinson does it all... rushing, receiving, passing, tackling and kick returns...
6,549 - total yards on his career from kick returns
3,694 - total receiving yards on his career
127.5 - total tackles on his career
73 - total rushing yards over career, which is good for 19 touchdowns
73 - games Robinson has played in
58 - receiving touchdowns on his career
45 - longest career reception
6 - in his sixth AFL season
4 - fourth team in five years that Robinson has suited up with
1 - rushing touchdown he scored with Wranglers in game one vs. Las Vegas.
GREG BROWN FINDS NICHE
With the Wranglers organization from the beginning, Brown has transitioned into his WR/LB position from safety where he played in college and in the NFL. Brown is the starter with Chiaverini injured. Thus far in 2006, he has tallied 11 receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns. He also has 22.5 tackles, five pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.
Damon Mason's impact on the Wranglers was immediate as he broke team records in season and single-game interception return yards with 47 after two interceptions in his first game with Austin. He re-broke his own mark at Arizona with three interceptions for 59 yards with a long of 29.
He also tied a Wranglers single-game high with nine tackles on his way to earning the Defensive Player of the Game honors in the first two games.
Interception Return Yards:
Damon Mason-106 yards (2006)
Darrin Chiaverini-41 yards (2005)
Kelvin Hunter-33 yards (2005)
WHERE THE WRANGLERS RANK...
With the tremendous improvement on the field, the Wranglers have moved their way up the AFL standings in 2006.
SACKS PER PASS PLAY: The Wranglers' line has done a great job protecting Fitzgerald as they haven't allowed a sack all season.
KICKOFF RETURN AVERAGE: Austin averages 22.7 yards per return.
THIRD DOWN DEFENSE: The Wranglers' defense has limited opponents to just 34.2 percent efficiency on third downs, with only 13-of-38 conversions.
FOURTH DOWN EFFICIENCY: In fourth down situations, the Wranglers convert at a 76.9 percent clip, with 10-of-13 conversions.
RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS: Austin has 19 rushing touchdowns, three more than any other AFL team.
KICKOFF RETURN DEFENSE: The Wranglers allow opponents a mere 14.9 yards per kickoff return.
THIRD DOWN PERCENTAGE: Austin is at 39.6, only allowing 19 of 48 on third downs.
MISCELLANEOUS TDs: Only allowing .286 per game.
PENALTIES PER GAME: Austin has only committed 39 offensive penalties, 5.6 per game.
PENALTY YARDS PER GAME: Austin only tallies 31.9 penalty yards on offense.
In Wranglers team history, team's largest margin of victory is 19 points, set this season at Arizona. The Wranglers broke their previous mark which they set in week one against Las Vegas with 18.
Most Decisive Wins:
Austin Wranglers at Arizona Rattlers (2/3/06), 53-34 (19)
Austin Wranglers vs. Las Vegas Gladiators (1/27/06),
Austin Wranglers vs. Georgia Force (4/11/04), 42-26 (16)
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