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Firebirds Prepare To Take On Pioneers In Round One

July 29, 2009 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Albany Firebirds News Release

2009 Regular Season Record:

7-9 (4-4 Home, 3-5 Road) - Streak: Won 1 - Second Place, East Division, American Conference

The Stakes

The first round of the 2009 ArenaCup playoffs is here and it will be do-or-die for the 16 teams competing for a trip to Las Vegas for the ArenaCup championship on Saturday, August 22, 2009. The eighth-seeded Albany Firebirds travel to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the second time in three weeks. The Firebirds nearly pulled-off an upset over the Pioneers, but fell short 49-40 back on July 18th. Albany then went on to win its final game of the regular season 58-55 in Milwaukee while the Pioneers, who clinched the top-seed in the American Conference, posted a 63-38 victory in Manchester last weekend.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

QB Stephen Wasil turned each of his five second-half possessions into points during last week's shoot-out against Milwaukee. The second-year pro finished with seven total touchdowns in the contest. The Michigan native has thrown for 3,436 yards with 70 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions in 12 games this season. His 286.3 passing yards per game rank third in the league.

WR Johnnie Butler was the only Firebird with more than one touchdown reception in Week 18. His two scores increased his season total to 11 in just 13 quarters of action because Butler spent 12 weeks of the 2009 season on the IR.

WR/DB Kenneth Williams and DB Joe Phinisee led Albany's defense with 7.5 tackles apiece last week against the Iron. Williams has now led the team in tackles eight times this year in only 11 games played. He led all Firebirds with 66.5 tackles and 13 pass break-ups during the regular season.

Phinisee was impressive in his first game of the season, registering one of his 7.5 tackles for a loss and adding a pass break-up. The former Peoria Pirate and Washington University grad is expected to get his second start at safety in this week's playoff contest.

DE David Tash claimed Albany's regular season sack title with his sixth QB take-down of the year last week in Milwaukee, edging out DT Reggie Paramoure (5.5) and DE Anton Lindsay (5). In 12 games this season Tash has 30.5 tackles, 10.5 for a loss, and he ranks eighth in the league with four forced fumbles. Paramoure is one of two Firebirds to start all 16 games this season (WR/LB Alvin Ray Jackson).

Round 1 Schedule:

All games are broadcast LIVE on af2TV free streaming video at www.albanyfirebirds.com

Saturday, Aug 1st - 7:00 pm - Wachovia Center at Casey Plaza - Wilkes-Barre, PA

vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers (13-3)

- The Pioneers lead the all-time series 16-8 and have won the last six meetings, including three in 2009. Two weeks ago the Firebirds played a tight game in Wilkes-Barre, but two missed PAT's proved costly for Albany, as the Firebirds took over trailing by nine in the final minute of action.

- Leading Passers: QB - Ryan Vena - (322-479-10, 4,144yds, 87TD)

- Leading Rusher: FB - Kirby Griffin - (66att-332yds-18TD)

- Leading Receivers: Irvin Campbell - (99rec-1,329yds-18TD), JJ Outlaw - (90rec-1,171yds-33TD), Rich Musinski - (72rec-912yds-24TD)

Firebirds Pecks:

- Florida Out of Playoffs: The Florida Firecats who are ineligible for this year's postseason because of non-payment of more than $100,000.00 of fees owed to af2. This amount is comprised chiefly of player and coaches payroll for a large portion of the 2009 season. Several months ago the Firecats organization submitted a financial offer to the full af2 Board of Directors that, if accepted and carried out, would not have paid all of the Firecats' obligations, but would allow them to play the remainder of their games in the regular season. The af2 Board approved the offer, which meant that 24 other af2 operators paid Firecats players and coaches weekly. The Firecats did not complete their financial commitments in their offer. This agreement did not apply to the playoffs.

- Birds Playoff History: This will be the Albany af2 franchise's fourth all-time playoff game and their second on the road.

2003: Round One - 59-47 loss vs. Macon (August 9th)

2002: Round Two - 46-40 loss at Cape Fear (August 10th)

Round One - 31-26 win vs. Rochester (August 3rd)

- Week 17 Transactions: Albany added DB EJ Whitley and OL/DL Julain Adams.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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