Greensboro Prowlers Game Notes
Mohegan Wolves (3-0) at Greensboro Prowlers (2-1)
Date: Saturday, April 26, 2003
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. EST
Site: Greensboro Coliseum (8,350)
National Anthem: List singer and/or group presenting colors
Coin Toss: Ben Coates, former tight end of the New England Patriots
Radio: www.greensboroprowlers.com (Arley Johnson; Jon Cole)
Series Record: First meeting between the two teams.
Last Meeting: None.
Streaks: Inaugural meeting
Coaches: Ben Bennett (1-1) Steven Jerry (1-1)
THE STAKES: Greensboro has the opportunity to win two games for the first time in franchise history. Capturing a road victory, only the second in four seasons, last week against Florida, Greensboro turns its focus to now winning its second game in a row. Currently Mohegan sits in first place in the American Northeast Conference, holding a one-game lead over the Albany Conquest. Greensboro is currently in second in the American Atlantic, trailing the Norfolk Nighthawks.
THE SERIES: This is the first meeting between the Mohegan Wolves and Greensboro Prowlers.
If Greensboro defeats Mohegan, it would
· Give Greensboro its first ever two game winning streak in franchise history
· Give Greensboro its second home victory early on in the season, matching the start from 2001 when Greensboro started the season 2-2 in April.
· Give the Prowlers an 8-7 record all-time in the month of April. HEAD COACHES: Each Head Coach enters their first season with the respective franchise. Steven Jerry joins the Prowlers from the Roanoke Steam where he finished (8-8) in 2002. Coach Jerry begins his first season in Greensboro after playing appearing at North Carolina as well as playing in the Arena Football League.
An arena football veteran with strong Connecticut ties, Mark Stoute was named the second head coach in Mohegan Wolves history on November 13, 2002. Prior to his appointment with the Wolves, Stoute spent the past two seasons as the Head Coach and General Manager of the Toronto Phantoms (AFL). In 2001, the team's inaugural season in Canada, Stoute led the Phantoms to an 8-6 regular season record and the Eastern Division Championship. Before the Phantoms were born, they were known better around Connecticut as the New England Sea Wolves. Stoute served as the Sea Wolves Director of Football Operations/Player Personnel in the team's two-year tenure in Hartford (1999-2000).
LAST SERIES MEETING: Inaugural meeting.
SERIES NOTABLES: The Prowlers return for the first game since April 5th, where they stand with a 2-1 record and come off a huge road victory over the ArenaCup runner-up Florida Firecats. Greensboro looks to continue the momentum and capture its second straight victory, while at the same time setting a franchise record. Greensboro comes in with the leading tackler in the af2, Michael Posey, who has 20 tackles18 unassisted. Facing Mohegan will provide the offense power that the Prowlers will be accustomed to facing with many divisional opponents including next weeks opponent-Richmond. For Mohegan, they enter the game with QB Ryan Tracey having the fourth best pass rating of 115.6%, and WR/DB Mel Long ranking eighth in scoring (38 pts) and seventh in TDs (6).
THIS WEEKS QUOTES:
THADDEUS BULLARD, on facing Mohegan: Hopefully we can continue to get better and continue to change the teams record books. Altering the record book with two wins in row, especially coming off a big road victory is a key.
LOOKING BACK: The Prowlers (2-1) earned their second road victory in the history of the franchise with a win over the Florida Firecats 45-42. Greensboro scored 14 points in each quarter but the fourth, while improving to second place in the American Atlantic, trailing only the Norfolk Nighthawks.
The Greensboro scoring began with a seven yard pass from Kenton Evans to Bobby Graham, and followed with an Evans 2-yard run for TD to assume an early 14-0 lead. The Firecats answered with a score of their own, coming when Brian Sparacino hooked up with Magic Benton for a 15-yard strike.
The second quarter saw the Firecats (1-2) score the first touchdown, when Cainon Lamb scored his first of five TDs in the game. Lamb made a 14-yard catch from Sparacino, knotting the game at 14-14. The Prowlers then answered with two TDs of their own, when Corey Sullivan caught a 16-yard pass from Kenton Evans, giving Greensboro the lead at the 12:22 mark. The second score for the Prowlers came when Bobby Graham returned a 28-yard fumble for a TD, putting Greensboro ahead 28-14 at that point. The last score then came when Lamb caught a 20-yard pass before halftime to put the Firecats down 28-21.
In the third, Florida tied the game with an early touchdown at the 13:30 mark, as Cainon Lamb scampered 16 yards for a TD. Following a roughing the passer call going against the Firecats, Greensboros Kenton Evans was injured and replaced by Caleb Slover. On Slovers first pass from scrimmage, he found Bobby Sippio, who pulled down a key 35-yard TD, as Greensboro would go ahead 35-28. Florida answered with a Lamb two-yard run, and after missing a conversion trailed 35-34 at the 4:52 mark. Greensboros final touchdown of the night came with 22 seconds remaining in the third, as Slover found the endzone from two yards out, pushing the Greensboro lead to 42-34.
Florida would score only one touchdown in the fourth quarter, coming when Cainon Lamb made a 9-yard reception from Brian Sparacino, and after converting a two-point conversion once again tied the game at 42-42. The Prowlers Josh Jones then gave Greensboro the victory when he converted a 25-yard field goal for the games final score. The Prowlers got another great defensive effort from the front line as Greensboros Abdullah Wiggins recorded two sacks, and one each going to Thaddeus Bullard, Bull Brown, and Toby Champion.
Up next for the Prowlers is the arch-rival Richmond Speed. When facing the Speed in Greensboro last season, Richmond entered the game 7-0. In the game, Greensboro led 14-13 at the end of the first half and 38-20 by halftime. In the third, Richmond cut into the lead , narrowing the deficit to 50-36. The Prowlers defense, and a high octane Speed offense behind Bob Bees, who passed for 4 TDs in the fourth quarter was too much for Greensboro to handle, where Greensboro eventually fell 66-57. Led by quarterback Travis Pender who filled in for Chris Weibel with an injured hand, the Prowlers got 301 yards of total offense on 51 plays from scrimmage.
Posey makes big impact: The influence of 2002 Defensive Specialist Jermaine Toney has been huge for this years Defensive Specialist Michael Posey. Posey appeared in just six games in 2002, after graduating from Livingstone College. So far in 2003, Posey stepped up his prowess in the opening game leading the team with six solo tackles, 6.5 for the game, as well as deflecting two passes. Posey continued his impressive play with an eight tackle performance, six unassisted, against Macon. He also had two interceptions totaling eight yards against the Knights, despite the loss. Recently against the Firecats, Posey recorded four tackles, one assisted, and knocked down a pass, while helping the rest of the Prowlers defense in their charge. Following three impressive games he now ranks first place among tackle leaders in the af2 with 20, 18 of which are unassisted.
Defense is name of the game: The Greensboro Prowlers have a new weapon this season that has been absent in the past. With the addition of Head Coach Steven Jerry during the off-season and a new defensive scheme of Defensive Coordinator Joe Campbell, Greensboro has stepped up its defensive prowess and the end result has been an efficient defense.
Greensboro currently ranks sixth in scoring defense, where they average 34.3 PPG, and is up significantly from last season when the Prowlers ranked 31st. Greensboro has also improved on total defense where they rank 15th currently, at 232.3 Yards Per Game. In 2002, the team finished 31st overall in the af2 in Total Defense with a 270.6 average.
The biggest reason for these changes, along with the schemes of Joe Campbell are the pass rushers up front. With Abdallah Wiggins and Thaddeus Bullard causing havoc on the outside pass rush, have appeared in all three games. For Wiggins he has recorded seven solo tackles, four assisted for a total of nine on the season. Wiggins has also made two sacks and has three tackles for losses, totaling 26 yards. As for Bullard, he has made eight solo tackles, 5 assisted, for a total of 10.5. The former Florida Gator that played opposite of Jevon Kearse, has also made two sacks and has three tackles for losses.
Along with Bullard, the Prowlers also have the af2s leading tackler Michael Posey, leading the way with 20 tackles, and a new defensive attitude. Greensboro has also added Western Kentucky standout Bobby Sippio, who made eight solo tackles in his Prowler debut last week against the Florida Firecats.
Missing the punch: In 2002 the Prowlers tied the AF2 record that was set by the Birmingham Steeldogs (2001) with six consecutive games with a kickoff return for a touchdown. Over that span the players with kickoff returns for Greensboro were: Walter Ford (at Norfolk); Walter Ford (vs. Cape Fear); Tom Starck (vs. Rochester); Walter Ford (at Cape Fear); Demeco Archangel (at Charleston); Walter Ford (vs. Norfolk). The same has not been the case for Greensboro in 2003, where the Prowlers have made just nine kickoff return attempts, totaling 161 yards in returns, and have yet to record a single touchdown.
Ben Winter Coates visits Greensboro: Former New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens tight end Ben Coates will be appearing when the Greensboro Prowlers face the Mohegan Wolves on April 26th. Coates was the prime target for Drew Bledsoe in the Patriots offense during the Bill Parcells regime in Foxboro.
A Super Bowl champion in 2001 with the Ravens, Coates was a five-time Pro Bowl selection from 1994-1998. He ranks fourth on the all-time list for tight ends in receptions with 499, while amassing 5,555 yards and 50 TDs. The Livingstone College graduate also held a Patriots single season reception record of 96 grabs, set in 1994 when he hauled in 1,174 yards. By the close of his prolific NFL career, Coates had six games with 10 or more receptions, nine games of 100-yards receiving, and nine multiple touchdown games.
Following his retirement from the NFL in 2001, he has returned to his alma mater where Coates is the Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach for the Livingstone College Blue Bears. In his playing days with the Blue Bears, Coates earned several accolades for his performance on the gridiron. In 1990 he was named First-team All-CIAA and Black College Sports All-American after posting 36 receptions, 504 yards, and nine touchdowns. Coates was also named team Most Valuable Player in the 1987, 1988, and 1990 seasons. Earning a degree in sports management, Coates final collegiate numbers were 103 catches, 1,228 yards, and 18 TDs.
Sipping from a new cup: Sippio appeared in his first game for the Prowlers in the victory over the Florida Firecats. In his first game with the Prowlers, Sippio recorded eight solo tackles. The second year player, who hails from Western Kentucky and played last season with the ArenaCup Champion Peoria Pirates is no stranger to big games. While with the Hilltoppers from 1999-2001, he recorded 107 solo tackles and 179 in his career. Sippio also made 19 career interceptions, and amassed 357 return yards for five TDs. In his junior campaign, Sippio was named Gateway Conference honors, as he blocked two field goal attempts of 49 and 50 yards against Southern Illnois. Also in the game against Southern Illnois, Sippio made two punt returns for 46 yards, recorded three tackles, and registered his only career sack. In 2000, he became the first consensus All-American in school history, as well as setting the school record for pass deflections with 27. Sippio earned the conference player of the week, when against Tennessee State, he made two interceptions for 119 return yards, made four tackles, and deflected three passes.
Slover steps up: Quarterback Caleb Slover happily handed over the clipboard as last week against the Florida Firecats he stepped in to give the Prowlers immediate points off the bench. On a critical third down play, starting QB Kenton Evans was injured on a roughing the passer penalty, as Slover stepped in over center. A 35-yard touchdown pass to newcomer Bobby Sippio proved as the key play of the game, as Slover would manage to complete 4 of 8 passes, 87 yards, and one rushing touchdown from just two yards out.
PLAYERS/MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Prowlers OL/DL Tanaka Scott: Scott is in his first season in the af2, joining the Prowlers from Middle Tennessee State. The 6-2; 270 lbs; offensive/defensive lineman appeared in every game as a senior in college. Through three games with the team, Scott has recorded 6.5 tackles, two blocked kicks, and two quarterback hurries. While in college as a senior, in 2001, Scott recorded 46 tackles and 3 sacks. He led the team in 2000 with five quarterback sacks and nine tackles totaling losses of 40 yards. He is also known for his weightlifting skills, bench pressing 420 pounds and can power clean 319.
Prowlers OL/DL Thaddeus Bullard: In his first season with the Prowlersgame in the arenafootball2 after playing the first four games of the Arena Football season while with the Carolina Cobras. The former Florida Gator joins the Prowlers after amassing 56 tackles and 6.5 career sacks. So far with Greensboro, he has made 10.5 tackles, 8.5 solo, and recorded two tackles for losses totaling 14 yards.
Prowlers WR/DB Cliff Shavers: Shavers stepped in for an injured Antoine Calloway, who was lost for the game with a dislocated finger, and becomes the first Prowlers receiver with 10 receptions on the campaign. Getting the ball evenly distributed throughout its offensive players is key to any offense, and Shavers has managed to make 10 receptions for 184 yards, while pulling in three touchdowns. Shavers has shown the potential throughout his career to make big plays, after all he has appeared in 39 games, made 119 receptions for 1,622 yards, while making 35 touchdowns.
KEY DATES IN TEAM/LEAGUE HISTORY:
Former New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens tight end Ben Coates will be appearing when the Greensboro Prowlers face the Mohegan Wolves on April 26th. Coates was the prime target for Drew Bledsoe in the Patriots offense during the Bill Parcells regime in Foxboro. The Prowlers are also having a Community Night for Greensboro area businesses to bring out their employees to show appreciation for a well done effort.
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