Florida Tarpons Open Season on Road Saturday
LAKELAND, Fla - The Florida Tarpons, starting their seventh straight year of professional arena football, will kick off their 2018 American Arena League season Saturday, March 17, with a visit to play the Atlanta Havoc.
The Tarpons - who will call the RP Funding Center in Lakeland home this year with their home opener there scheduled for Saturday, April 14 against Richmond - have played in five league championships in the last six years, including last year in the Arena Pro Legue when they fell on the final play of the game to Richmond.
Florida will be on the road again next Saturday against the High Country Grizzlies in Boone, N.C., before having two weekends off in advance of the home opener.
The Tarpons are expected to be lead by quarterback Chris Wallace,. This will be Wallace's 18th year of professional arena football, including four years in the Arena Football League, primarily with the Orlando Predators, along with stops with the New Orleans Voodoo and Pittsburgh Power, In the AFL, he threw for 1,283 yards, with 19 touchdowns.
In eight years with the Florida Firecats, he rewrote the af2 league record book, where he threw for more than 22,000 yards. In 2008, he broke the league record for career touchdowns (484) and passes completed (1,797), and set the league mark for total yardage a season later. He started his professional career in af2 with the Carolina Rhinos in 2000.
He played for the Tarpons in 2012-13 and again since the 2015 season. He was the starting quarterback on the team's two championship teams, in 2013 in UIFL and in 2015 in the X-League when they defeated Lakeland, 65-23.
The Tarpons prize off-season free agent signee, former Tampa Bay Storm wide reciever Joe Hills, a native of Palmetto, will miss the first two games with injuries suffered in a car crash. Hills was the Arena Football Leagues offensive MVP in 2016 when he scored 56 touchdowns and had over 2,000 yards receiving.
This will also be the Tarpons debut of Lakeland native Chris Duvalt, a graduate of Lake Gibson High School. Duvalt was a receiver last year on the AFL champion Philadelphia Soul. His best year came as a member of the New Orleans VooDoo in 2015 snagging 109 catches for 1,237 yards and 23 TD's.
This will be the Havoc's first-ever game. Like the Tarpons, they have signed several AFL veterans, including quarterback Lee Chappelle who played four seasons with the Jacksonville Sharks.
Kickoff from the Buford, Ga. Arena is at 7 p.m. The game will be webcast live on YouTube at
All five Tropics home game will also be webcast this spring. For more information, go to www.floridatarpons.com.
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American Arena League Stories from March 16, 2018
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