Chicago Rush Game Notes
The Quick Facts
TV: NFL Network Paul Burmeister, Tom Waddle, Anthony Herron
Webcast: www.arenarush.com Les Grobstein
Overall Series Record: Rush leads 5-1
Series Streaks: Cleveland won the last meeting between the teams
Last Meeting: June 7, 2008, Cle. Gladiators 65, Rush 44
Coaches (regular season, postseason records - AFL only):
Mike Hohensee (119-94, 12-11 16th season)
Steve Thonn (24-49, 2-2 6th season)
Officials: Tom McCabe (Referee), Pat Bayers (Umpire), John Quinn (Head Linesman), Jacob Kemp (Line Judge, Larry Orrico (Back Judge)
2010 Chicago Rush Schedule
Date Opponent Time/Score TV/Attend
April 2 @ Iowa * W, 61-43 12,184
April 9 Cleveland * 7 p.m. NFL Net
April 17 @ Arizona 9:30 p.m.
April 23 Utah 7:30 p.m.
May 1 Bye
May 7 @ Milwaukee* 7:30 p.m.
May 15 Iowa* 7 p.m.
May 22 @ Dallas 7:30 p.m.
May 29 @ Cleveland* 6 p.m.
June 4 Jacksonville 7 p.m. NFL Net
June 12 @ Utah 8 p.m.
June 19 Milwaukee* 7 p.m.
June 26 Orlando 7 p.m.
July 2 @ Tampa Bay 7 p.m. NFL Net
July 10 Arizona 7 p.m.
July 17 Dallas 7 p.m.
July 23 @ Spokane 7 p.m. NFL Net
* Midwest Division game
Midwest Division 2010 Standings
W-L-T PF PA Division
RUSH 1-0-0 61 43 1-0
Milwaukee 1-0-0 74 62 0-0
Cleveland 0-1-0 56 61 0-0
Iowa 0-1-0 43 61 0-1
HOME SWEET HOME: After starting the season with a road win at Iowa last week, the Rush returns to Allstate Arena Friday to open the home portion of its schedule against Bernie Kosar's Cleveland Gladiators. The game will be the first AFL game at Allstate Arena since July 6, 2008, when the Rush fell to Grand Rapids 58-41 in an AFL American Conference semifinal playoff game.
Like last week's game at Iowa, the Rush home opener against Cleveland will be nationally televised on the NFL Network beginning at 7 p.m.
OFF TO THE DESERT NEXT: After Friday's home opener, the Rush heads west to Phoenix to take on the Arizona Rattlers on Friday, April 16. The game originally was set for Saturday, April 17, but was moved to Friday to accommodate a Phoenix Suns playoff game.
RUSH WINS DEBUT IN IOWA: The Chicago Rush celebrated the return of the Arena Football League in grand fashion last Friday, defeating the Iowa Barnstormers 61-43 in front of 12,184 fans at Wells Fargo Arena.
Both teams were sloppy - combining for 10 turnovers and 18 penalties - in the league's first game back in nearly two years, but the Rush made the plays when it needed them to en route to the decisive victory.
Rush veteran DeJuan Alfonzo was the story early, reminding fans why he was named First Team All-Arena in 2007 and 2008, by forcing turnovers on Iowa's first two possessions. On the Barnstormers first play from scrimmage, Alfonzo intercepted a Brian Villanueva pass and returned it 10-yards for a Rush touchdown.
On Iowa's second possession, Alfonzo forced a fumble, which the Rush recovered at the Barnstormers 20-yard line. The Rush again converted with a TD, staking Chicago to an early 14-0 lead.
Once in front, Chicago built a big lead before hanging on in the fourth quarter. QB Russ Michna completed 18 of 30 passes for 261 yards and six touchdowns as the Rush took a 41-22 lead at the end of three quarters, before hanging on for the 61-43 win.
GREAT TREND IN HOME OPENERS: The Rush is 6-2 in its eight home openers, losing only to Orlando in 2003 and New York in 2006.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Rush opens the 2010 season with a 47-19 all-time record at Allstate Arena (including postseason). The Rush was 7-2 at home in 2008, losing its first home game of the season to Philadelphia and its last - an AFL playoff loss - to Grand Rapids.
RUSH AMONG THE BEST YEAR AFTER YEAR: The Rush has a tradition of fielding winning teams year after year. In fact, during its first eight seasons in the AFL, only San Jose had a better regular season record than Chicago.
The AFL's best regular season records (2001-2008):
San Jose 88-35
Tampa Bay 70-54
RUSH 5-1 VS. GLADIATORS: Friday's game will be the seventh in the series between the Rush and Gladiators - a series that began when the Gladiators played in New Jersey and continued when the team moved to Las Vegas in 2003. This week's game will be the second since the team was acquired by former Cleveland Browns QB Bernie Kosar and moved to Cleveland prior to the start of the 2008 season. The Rush won the first five games in the series before the Gladiators finally broke through with their first win in 2008.
Here is a look at the Rush-Gladiators Series Results:
2002: Rush 44, NJ Gladiators 14 (June 2 @ Chicago)
2003: Rush 68, LV Gladiators 48 (March 16 @ Las Vegas)
2004: Rush 57, LV Gladiators 55 (April 4 @ Las Vegas)
2005: Rush 63, LV Gladiators 62 (May 1 @ Chicago)
2006: Rush 67, LV Gladiators 47 (April 27 @ Chicago)
2008: Cle. Gladiators 65, Rush 44 (June 7, 2008 @ Cleveland)
A CHICAGO NATIVE: Cleveland head coach Steve Thonn is a Chicagoland native. He was a Division III All-American wide receiver at Wheaton College (1980-84) where he also played basketball. He began his Arena Football career as a WR/DB with the Chicago Bruisers from 1988-1989.
COACHING CONNECTIONS: Cleveland head coach Steve Thonn was a WR/DB for the Albany Firebirds from 1990 to 1993. For his final three seasons as a player in Albany, Rush head coach Mike Hohensee was the team's offensive coordinator. Then, when Hohensee became the team's head coach in 1994, he hired Thonn as his wide receivers and special teams coach.
The pair has met four times as head coaches - once in 1999 and three times in 2008 - with Hohensee holding a 3-1 edge in the series. The coaches were also scheduled to meet at Allstate Arena in 2001 when the Rush hosted Houston, but Hohensee missed the game due to his grandmother's funeral. The Rush won that game 48-43.
DUTTON vs. RUSH: Cleveland QB John Dutton has faced the Rush 13 times in his career - in each case as the starting QB for the Colorado Crush - posting just a 4-9 record against Chicago. Dutton, however, is one of nine QBs who have passed for 300 or more yards against the Rush defense, accomplishing the feat three times.
Here are Dutton's career numbers against Chicago:
G Comp Att Pct. Yds. TD Int Rating
13 301 484 62.2% 3,694 75 15 112.4
Rush opponent's 300-yard passing games:
Player Date Yards
Clint Stoerner 1/30/05 @ Dallas 398
Clint Stoerner 2/13/06 vs. Nashville 368
Mark Grieb 4/10/05 vs. San Jose 368
Clint Dolezel 5/1/05 vs. Las Vegas 355
Mark Grieb 3/3/08 vs. San Jose 353
John Dutton 5/7/07 vs. Colorado 346
Clint Dolezel 7/7/01 @ Grand Rapids 342
Aaron Garcia 3/23/03 vs. New York 339
John Dutton 4/25/08 @ Colorado 331
Mark Grieb 3/9/07 vs. San Jose 327
Clint Dolezel 5/4/02 vs. Grand Rapids 321
Clint Dolezel 3/29/03 @ Grand Rapids 317
Andy Kelly 3/20/05 vs. New Orleans 311
Mark Grieb 6/3/06 @ San Jose * 314
Juston Wood 4/30/07 vs. Philadelphia 308
Andy Kelly 3/28/04 vs. Detroit 306
Donnie Davis 5/18/02 vs. Georgia 304
Aaron Garcia 6/30/02 vs. New York 303
John Dutton 3/10/06 vs. Colorado 300
Chad Salisbury 5/13/06 @ Grand Rapids 300
* AFL playoffs
TURNOVERS A RUSH TRADEMARK: The ability to force turnovers has been a long-standing trademark of the Rush defense. In last week's season opener in Iowa, the Rush continued that tradition, tying a team-record with six turnovers - a team-record five interceptions and one forced fumble.
Linebacker DeJuan Alfonzo forced the first two turnovers of the season, intercepting a pass on Iowa's first possession and forcing a fumble on the Barnstormers' second possession. DBs Nygel Rogers and Josh Ferguson also joined in, each intercepting two passes in the game.
In 2007, the Rush led the AFL in forced turnovers with 44 - 20 fumbles and a league-high 24 interceptions. The following season, the Rush defense forced a total of 33 turnovers, again ranking among the league leaders.
AFL's Single Season Takeaways
Team Season Takeaways
Pittsburgh Gladiators 1988 49
Columbus Destroyers 2006 46
San Jose SaberCats 2008 45
Albany Firebirds 1996 45
Chicago Rush 2007 44
Dallas Desperados 2006 44
STILL ON THE SIDELINE: While many of the faces have changed, one aspect of the Rush remains the same - head coach Mike Hohensee. Hohensee, the only head coach in Rush history, is back on the sidelines running the team. Now in his ninth season with the Rush, Hohensee has posted an 84-57 overall record, and has led the team to the playoffs in each of its first eight seasons.
In addition to winning ArenaBowl XX, Hohensee has led the Rush to four Central Division titles (2002, 2004, 2007, 2008) and has helped the team advance to the AFL semifinals five times (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007).
Hohensee ranks third in AFL history in career victories, behind Tampa Bay coach Tim Marcum and former Utah and Arizona coach Danny White.
One of only four men to be involved in the Arena Football League in each of the league's 23 seasons, Hohensee:
has a regular season record of 119-94 (including a 75-50 mark with the Rush).
has a career 12-11 mark in the postseason.
has led the Rush to eight-consecutive playoff berths and four Central Division titles (2002, 2004, 2007 and 2008).
is 5-1 all-time vs. the Gladiators franchise and 3-1 all-time vs. Steve Thonn coached teams.
All-Time Winningest AFL Coaches
Coach Team Wins This Week
Tim Marcum Tampa Bay 199 Bye
Danny White - 161
Mike Hohensee Rush 131 Cleveland
Darren Arbet - 121
Mike Dailey - 116
FAMILIAR FACES: Five members of Chicago's 23-man are very familiar to the fans, having played for the Rush before. Quarterback Russ Michna, linebacker DeJuan Alfonzo, FB Robert Boss, and linemen Beau Elliott and Joe Peters are all back in Rush blue.
OTHER AFL EXPERIENCE: In addition to the five returning Rush players, Chicago's roster features four other AFL veterans - wide receiver Kenny Higgins, defensive back Chris Martin, linebacker Clifton Smith and wide receiver Nichiren Flowers. Both Higgins and Martin spent the 2008 season with the Grand Rapids Rampage, while Smith won an ArenaBowl title as a member of the Philadelphia Soul. Flowers spent time with the Los Angeles Avengers in 2007.
PEORIA CONNECTIONS: Two Players on the 2010 Rush roster played for head coach Mike Hohensee last season as members of the af2's Peoria Pirates - DB Josh Ferguson and defensive lineman Darnell Whitley.
Ferguson played in eight games for Peoria, recording 50 tackles, two interceptions and 11 passes broken up. He also forced two fumbles and recovered a fumble which he returned for a touchdown.
Whitley appeared in three games for the Pirates, playing on both the offensive and defensive line.
MICHNA BACK UNDER CENTER: QB Russ Michna was solid in his first performance under center this season, completing 18 of 28 passes for 261 yards and six touchdowns, while only throwing one interception in the team's opening day win at Iowa.
Now in his third season in Chicago, Michna spent the 2007 season as the backup quarterback to Matt D'Orazio and began the 2008 season as the backup to Sherdrick Bonner. However, when Bonner was injured early in the 2008 season, Michna took over and posted an 8-3 record as the team's starting QB.
Here are Michna's career numbers:
G Comp Att Pct. Yds. TD Int Rating
20 259 380 68.2% 3,026 63 8 122.9
NEW LOOK LINE: It will be interesting to see just how quickly this year's offensive line takes to gel. Returning center Beau Elliott opens the 2010 season with a new linemate on either side of him. Joining Elliott on the offensive line are guard Shawn McMackin and tight end Palauni Ma Sun, both AFL rookies.
In its first game as a unit last week at Iowa, the Rush offensive line had its ups and downs. The line allowed two sacks and the team lost three fumbles - all on bad QB-center exchanges. However, the line improved as the game went on, protecting Russ Michna long enough for him to throw six touchdown passes.
HE'S THE BOSS: Fan favorite Robert Boss returns to the Rush, but not at his familiar tight end position. Despite being one of the league's most-dangerous pass-catching tight ends - catching 15 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns in 2008, Boss has moved to fullback in 2010.
Boss proved last week in Iowa that he can be a weapon at fullback, rushing for six yards and a touchdown, and catching a 10-yard pass in the game.
LOTS OF TALENT AT RECEIVER: This year's group of wide receivers might be as deep and as talented as any group the Rush has ever had.
The corps is led by AFL veteran Kenny Higgins, who was named Second Team All-Arena in 2008 after catching 112 passes for 1,552 yards and 39 touchdowns as a member of the Grand Rapids Rampage. In fact, Rush fans will remember Higgins performance at Allstate Arena in 2008 when he caught 14 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns in a Rampage upset of the Rush in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
In addition to Higgins, the Rush has added receivers Samie Parker, Nichiren Flowers and Alan Turner to the mix.
A fourth-round draft choice of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2004, Parker spent four seasons in Kansas City, catching 110 passes for 1,529 yards and 7 TDs. After leaving KC, Parker had stints with the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders before playing with the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives in 2009.
Flowers was a rookie with the Los Angeles Avengers in 2007, before spending 2008 and 2009 playing in af2 with Central Valley and Boise.
Last week at Iowa, the quartet combined for 16 receptions for 246 yards and five touchdowns. Parker led the way with six catches for 104 yards and two TDs, followed by Flowers (5, 74, 0), Higgins (4, 54, 2) and Turner (1, 14, 1)
MR. EVERYTHING BACK AT JACK: Perhaps the best news for the Rush this season is that linebacker DeJuan Alfonzo is back with the team. Regarded as one of the best all-around players in the league, Alfonzo was named First Team All-Arena at Jack linebacker in both 2007 and 2008.
Alfonzo showed last week that he hasn't lost a step, forcing Iowa turnovers on each of the Barnstormers' first two possessions.
On the Barnstormers first official play from scrimmage, Alfonzo intercepted a Brian Villanueva pass and returned it 10-yards for a Rush touchdown. Then, on Iowa's second possession, Alfonzo forced a fumble, which the Rush recovered at the Barnstormers 20-yard line. In addition to his two forced turnovers, Alfonzo finished the game with five tackles and two passes broken up.
In 2007, he set an AFL record by scoring five defensive touchdowns - three via interceptions and two via fumble recoveries - and tied an AFL record by recovering six fumbles.
Along with his play at linebacker, Alfonzo is the team's holder on field goals and extra points and, if needed, can play both wide receiver and defensive back.
Additionally, Alfonzo is one of the team's top special teams players - both on kickoff coverage and kickoff return.
SMITH BRINGS CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE: Lining up next to Alfonzo at Mac linebacker is former Philadelphia Soul FB/LB Clifton Smith. Smith was an All-Ironman selection for the 2008 Soul team that won the ArenaBowl championship.
Smith showed last week that he is a perfect complement to Alfonzo, registering four tackles, two sacks and a pass broken up against Iowa.
In 2008, Smith recorded 33 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception on defense, while rushing for 131 yards and 10 touchdowns on offense.
PETERS FEELING THE PRESSURE: Putting pressure on the opponent's quarterback has always been a Rush trademark. However, gone from the 2008 Rush squad are defensive linemen James Baron and John Moyer - who ranked second and seventh, respectively, on the AFL's career sack list.
The job of filling their shoes falls to Baron and Moyer's former teammate, defensive end Joe Peters. Peters is in his fourth season in Chicago, entering the year with 76 tackles and 6 sacks in his career.
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