DL Joe Sykes and LB Francis Maka Earn All-Arena Honors
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Arena Football League and the SaberCats announced today that defensive lineman Joe Sykes (First Team) and linebacker Francis Maka (Second Team) were named to the league's All-Arena Defensive teams.
"We are very proud of these two outstanding defenders and these honors are absolutely deserved," Owner and Head Coach Darren Arbet said regarding the announcement Wednesday. "Both Joe and Francis are extremely hard workers and we are glad to see them recognized for their very impressive seasons."
Sykes (6-5, 280, Southern) had a season for the ages along the defensive line on his way to being named to the AFL's All-Arena First Team. The second year man out of Southern posted an AFL single season record for sacks in a season with 16.0. He broke the previous record of 15.5 set in 2010 by SaberCats teammate Gabe Nyenhuis when he was a member of the Tulsa Talons. Sykes finished the season with 33.0 total tackles, forced five fumbles, recovered two more, had an interception he returned for a touchdown and returned a blocked field goal for another score. He is still up for numerous AFL awards including the National Guard Most Valuable Player, Riddell Defensive Player of the Year and the Game Tape Exchange Defensive Lineman of the Year. This marks the first time in Sykes' career that he has earned All-Arena honors and he was the only SaberCats player named to the First Team defensively.
Maka (6-2, 250, Hawaii) was a key fixture for a much improved SaberCats defensive unit in 2012. He recorded a career-high nine sacks, second only on the team to Sykes, and ranked sixth in the AFL for a team that set a new league single season sack record with 42. In addition to his knack for getting to the quarterback, the former Hawaii Warrior posted 31.5 total tackles, ten-and-a-half of which were for a loss, forced and recovered three fumbles as well as blocked a kick. This marks the first time in his career that Maka was named All-Arena and is the only SaberCats defender on the Second Team.
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