Darenerius Watson Returns to the Manchester Wolves; Will Start in Season Opener
MANCHESTER, NH-- The big man who anchored the Manchester Wolves offensive line for the past four years has returned to the team and and will start at center when the Wolves open their 2009 arenafootball2 league season on the road against the arch-rival and division foe Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers on Friday night.
Head Coach Danton Barto is driving the Welcome Wagon.
"Having Watson back for this game is huge," said Barto. "I believe that all good football teams are built up the middle and having a good center, quarterback, and middle receiver is a must. This gives us an opportunity to be successful. Obviously, I believe that Watson is one of the best centers in all of the af2."
Watson (6-2, 300/, who was a starter on the Wolves playoff teams in 2005 through 2008, was assigned to the team by the league. Terms of the deal were not released.
Watson will provide leadership and experience on a Wolves team that is a mix of returning veterans, new players who have seen action with other af2 teams, and promising rookies. The fact that Watson was a starter in Barto's system last year in a plus, and another big advantage is that he will be snapping the ball to second-year quarterback James Pinkney, who kept his starting job after a spirited battle for the position with rookie Mike Potts all through training camp.
Watson will be flanked by second-year tight end Rich Ranglin and newcomer Rory Thomas, who saw limited af2 action as a rookie last year, at guard. Ranglin had an outstanding rookie season for the Wolves last year at his position and started 15 games until a leg injury forced him to the sidelines.
The return of Watson, who remains one of the most popular and well respected players on the team and in the Manchester community, will give the Wolves a boost as they start the 2009 campaign against the defending East Division champions in hostile territory.
The Wolves and Pioneers have tangled 21 times before, with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton holding a slight 11-10 edge in the series. But the Pioneers are 8-3 in their home arena, which is considered one of the toughest places for a visiting team to play in the entire af2.
This test will be the first in a four-game, home-and-away series between the Wolves and Pioneers, who are considered the top two contenders in the East Division of the American Conference. Moreover, the regular season will be book-ended by the division battle as the Wolves start the campaign on the road versus the Pioneers and the Pioneers will travel to Manchester for the last game of the season.
The Wolves game kick-offs at 7:30 PM on Friday night from the Wachovia Center in Wilkes-Barre and fans can watch the action online on NIFTYtv.com. The game, and all Wolves away games, will also be shown on big-screen TVs at Johnny Bad's Sports Bar on Elm Street in Manchester. There is no local radio broadcast this year .
The Wolves season opener is on Saturday, April 18th on The Acting Loft Field at the Verizon Wireless Arena. In honor of the 10th anniversary season of the af2, $10 tickets are being offered and they are good for the best seat available. There is also a special money-back guarantee for season tickets purchased through April 1st and details are available at www.manchesterwolves.com or by calling 603-627-9653 (WOLF). Season ticket packages, partial season ticket packages, specially priced youth and senior season tickets, and individual game tickets are all on sale now.
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