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 Arena Football League (1987-2008)

Eastern Division showdown in Big Apple

April 26, 2006 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) News Release

NEW YORK - The New York Dragons (8-5) can become the second Eastern Conference team to clinch a National Conference playoff berth by beating the Philadelphia Soul (7-6) at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on OLN (tape delay Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET), SNY (tape delay Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET), CSN West (tape delay Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET), CSS (tape delay Monday at 12:30 p.m. ET) and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 110 and a Chicago Rush (5-8) win over the Georgia Force (7-6) on Saturday.

The Dallas Desperados (11-2), who were unanimously chosen as the top-ranked team in this week's AFLWA Schutt Sports Top 12 Poll, already locked up a playoff berth and can clinch the Eastern Division title and a first-round postseason bye with a home win over Arizona (7-6) on Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 110 or a New York loss to Philadelphia. The Desperados can lock up the best National Conference record and ensure home-field advantage through the Conference Championship Round with a win this week and losses by Orlando to Colorado and Austin to Columbus.

Dallas QB CLINT DOLEZEL and Arizona QB SHERDRICK BONNER are both members of the elite 700 Touchdown Club. The veteran slingers are two of just four players in AFL history to throw for more than 700 career touchdowns. Dolezel leads the AFL this year with 85 touchdown passes. Bonner has thrown 35 touchdowns in the last five weeks and has 66 on the season.

Utah QB ANDY KELLY, who joined the Blaze (5-8) on April 11, after being released by Kansas City (3-10), needs five touchdown passes on Saturday night at Las Vegas (5-8) to move ahead of New York's AARON GARCIA (757) to become the AFL's all-time leader in passing touchdowns. Kelly already is the AFL's all-time leader in passing yards with 39,067.

1. Aaron Garcia, New York 757
2. Andy Kelly, Kansas City 753
3. Clint Dolezel, Dallas 745
4. Sherdrick Bonner, Arizona 729
5. John Kaleo, Columbus 550

The no. 2 ranked Orlando Predators (9-4) and no. 3 ranked Colorado Crush (9-4) face off in a battle of first-place teams at Pepsi Center in Denver on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain. The Predators have won five straight, including a 52-13 route of in-state rival Tampa Bay (6-7) last week. During the 5-0 run, QB JOE HAMILTON has completed 102-of-141 passes (72.3 percent) for 1,215 yards with 21 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has used his quick feet, rushing for 78 yards and three additional scores in the five-game span. Hamilton needs 296 passing yards this week to become the most prolific passer in franchise history. Hamilton, in his third season, has 9,381 career passing yards and trails PAT O'HARA (1995-2000) on the Predators all-time list.

In last week's 52-40 loss to Kansas City (3-10), Colorado OS DAMIAN HARRELL, who has caught at least one touchdown pass in an AFL-record 62 straight games, tied the AFL single-season record with his 46th receiving touchdown. He needs just five more total touchdowns to pass EDDIE BROWN (51 in 1996 with Albany) and BARRY WAGNER (51 in 1997 with Orlando) to set a new League standard in that category. Harrell is on pace for 57 touchdowns this year.

Columbus QB JOHN KALEO will face his former team when the Destroyers (6-7) travel to the Lone Star State to take on the Austin Wranglers (8-5) at the Frank Erwin Center on Friday at 8:00 p.m. ET on AFL Net. Kaleo spent the 2004 season with Austin playing all 16 games and throwing for 4,020 yards and a career-best 80 touchdowns. Columbus WR/DB IRA GOOCH spent last season with Austin and set career highs with 54 catches, 722 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

Two of the AFL's top Ironmen will go head-to-head when JAMES ROE and the San Jose SaberCats (7-6) visit KEVIN INGRAM and the Los Angeles Avengers (3-10) at STAPLES Center on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET on WB San Jose and AFL Net. Roe, who tied a team single-game record with 14 receptions last week against Austin, has earned all-Ironman Team honors each of the last three seasons and Ingram was named U.S. Army Ironman of the Year in 2005.

The SaberCats-Avengers matchup also features two of the AFL's top rookies in Los Angeles QB SONNY CUMBIE and San Jose WR/LB BEN NELSON. Cumbie has thrown 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions since taking over the starting job in Week 5. Nelson has posted 120-or-more yards in six of his eight AFL starts and is tied for the League lead among rookies with 19 touchdowns.

Georgia Force (7-6) Head Coach and former Chicago Bears safety DOUG PLANK will face his former boss when the Chicago Rush (5-8), co-owned by former Chicago Bears Head Coach MIKE DITKA, travel to Philips Arena in Atlanta on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ET on CSS (tape delay Sunday at Noon ET), CSN Chicago (tape delay at 8:00 p.m. ET), Mid-Atlantic (tape delay Sunday at 10:00 a.m. ET), Comcast Local (tape delay Monday at 7:00 p.m. ET), CSN West and INHD. Plank played the 1982-83 seasons for the Bears under Ditka.

Other games this week: Kansas City at Tampa Bay on Saturday, Nashville at Grand Rapids on Saturday and Utah at Las Vegas on Saturday.

This Week in AFL History

April 26, 1986: For the first time, the concept of Arena Football comes to life as a "Test Game" is played in Rockford, Illinois between two all-star teams fielded from local semi-pro teams. Fan enthusiasm leads to the "Showcase Game" being played 10 months later.

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