Las Vegas Gladiators game notes
GLADIATORS VS. SOUL: THE FACTS
Date: Sunday, March 5, 2006
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Pacific
Site: Thomas & Mack Center (Las Vegas, NV)
Officials: Referee: David Lambros, Umpire: Al Granado, Head Linesman: Bill Ward, Line Judge: Brian Matthews, Back Judge: Joe Duncan.
THE GAME CAN BE HEARD...
On ESPNRadio 920 in Las Vegas with Andrew Siciliano handling play-by-play and Mike Pritchard with color commentary.
THE GAME CAN BE SEEN...
On OLN with Ari Wolfe handling play-by-play and Charles Arbuckle with color analyst.
THE SERIES - GLADIATORS VS. SOUL
Gladiators lead 2-0
This will be the third meeting between the teams. The Gladiators are 0-0 at home and 2-0 on the road versus Philadelphia. In the last meeting between the two, Las Vegas pulled out a victory with one second left on the clock, when QB Clint Dolezel hit WR/LB Joe Douglass on a 27 yard touchdown pass to pull out a 56-49 win, in week 12 last year. The game was played in front of 16,514 at the Wachovia Center.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
If the Gladiators win, it would
- Give the Gladiators a 3-0 overall record versus Philadelphia
- Give Las Vegas a 2-4 overall record
- Give Las Vegas a 2-1 home record
GLADIATORS PREVIOUS GAME
Gladiators Comeback Falls Short in Dallas, 55-48.
Offensive Player of the Game Dialleo Burks
Defensive Player of the Game Jermaine Jones
Ironman of the Game Will Pettis
February 25, 2006, (Dallas, TX) - For the first three quarters the Las Vegas Gladiators (1-4) were outscored by former quarterback Clint Dolezel and the Dallas Desperados 48-21(4-1) at the American Airlines Center. Las Vegas rallied and scored and unanswered 27 fourth quarter points, only to come up short in the end and fall to the eastern division leading Dallas Desperados, by a final score of 55-48.
This game marked the beginning of the Jason Fife era in Las Vegas. In his first career AFL start, replacing Craig Whelihan, the former Oregon Duck quarterback completed 24 of 36 attempts for 299 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Fife also added two rushing touchdowns. 2004 AFL Offensive Player of the Year, Marcus Nash, led all receivers with 11 catches for 122 yards and three touchdowns. All of Nash's touchdowns came in the second half, to spark the late Gladiator rally.
The story leading up to the game was no doubt on the match-up with former Gladiator quarterback Clint Dolezel. The Desperado signal caller was efficient on the night, connecting on 25 of 37 attempts for 270 yards and seven touchdown passes with only one interception. Desperado WR/LB Dialleo Burks led the team with team high 10 receptions for 114 yards and four touchdown grabs, Burks also rushed for a score. Defensively, Dallas was sparked by two key interceptions by defensive specialist Jermaine Jones.
After a four yard touchdown strike from Jason Fife to Marcus Nash with 55 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Gladiators pulled within one score. On the following kickoff, Dallas's Dialleo Burks held on to an onside attempt by Gladiator kicker Eric Houle, to preserve the victory for the Desperados.
The Las Vegas Gladiators remain winless on the road (0-3). The Gladiators will return home (1-1) to face Tony Graziani and the Philadelphia Soul next Sunday, March 5, at 3:30 p.m. (pacific) at the Thomas and Mack Center. The game will be televised on the OLN Network.
Ron James (Second Season, 9-13)
Ron James is entering his second season as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Gladiators. In his first year as head coach the Gladiator teams ranked #1 in total offense and #1 in total defense Arena Football League and finished with an 8-8 record.
Prior to becoming the head coach, James served as assistant head coach/line coach and special team's coordinator for the Gladiator organization from 2001-2004.
Coach James has nine years of AFL experience having served as the line coach and player personnel director with the Houston Thunderbears from 2000-2001 and as an assistant with the Albany Firebirds in 1990 and 1991.
In addition to coaching in the AFL, James has coached a combined total of 14 years on the collegiate level.
In 1998 and 1999 Coach James served as the Admissions Support officer and assistant football coach at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
From 1993 thru 1998 James coached at Kentucky Wesleyan College. While at KWC James served as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in 1993. The following season James was promoted the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator and coached the secondary. He remained in that position until 1998.
Among the other college stops were stints as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Hartwick College from 1992-1993. Prior to that, James was the defensive coordinator and linebacker coach at St. Lawrence University from 1989-1992. Additionally James coached at Siena College from 1986-1989 as the linebacker coach and also served as JV Head Coach in 1989.
James was a four-year starter at Siena College where he achieved First-Team All N.C.F.A. All - America honors in 1985 and was named a first-team all conference selection twice. Upon completion of his college football career, James had brief NFL stops with the NY Giants, New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals. He earned a BA from Siena and a MPA from the State University of New York at Albany.
Born on April 28, 1964, James is a native of Albany, New York. He is married to wife, Lynn and has two children Brady and Alexis. They live in Henderson, NV. He is a member of the American Football Coaches Association and the Order of Kentucky Colonels.
Brett Munsey First Season (3-2)
The third head coach for the Philadelphia Soul, as the organization heads into its third season in 2006. With an extensive coaching background, this will be Munsey's first head coaching position in the League.
Munsey, 37, joins the Soul after serving on Orlando's staff for three seasons under Jay Gruden. After joining the Predators in 2003 and serving as the team's offensive coordinator and wide receivers/defensive backs coach, he was promoted to assistant head coach in August of 2003. This role also included his director of player personnel and defensive coordinator roles throughout the last two seasons.
In 2005 the Predators finished with a 10-6 regular season record and lost in the conference finals to the Georgia Force. The team ranked third in the League in scoring defense (47.2 ppg), fifth in total defense (269.2 ypg) and second in pass rating defense (98.9).
In his role as defensive coordinator, Munsey organized Orlando's defensive game plans and served as defensive backs coach. His 2004 defense ranked first in the league in scoring defense (43.1), total defense (236.8 ypg) and pass rating defense (95.7).
The Soul look to capitalize on Munsey's defensive knowledge. Philadelphia was the worst in the League against the run last season, allowing 576 yards. They also allowed the second most touchdowns in the League and made the least amount of tackles. Cutting down on stats like these are Munsey's top priority.
In his role as assistant head coach, Munsey handled several administrative duties for the Predators -- including planning and conducting training camp, tryouts and player housing. He was also in charge of recruiting and handled contract compliance with the League.
In his first season with the Predators, Munsey served as offensive coordinator and coached the wide receivers and defensive backs.
Munsey came to the Predators from the Carolina Cobras, where he served as defensive coordinator. Under his guidance, the Cobras were ranked in the top five in the Arena Football League in many defensive categories and came within one play of earning a spot in the semifinals.
Prior to his stint in Carolina, Munsey served as head coach and director of football operations for the Tennessee Valley Vipers of the af2. During his first season as a head coach, Munsey led his team to a 14-2 regular season record (15-3 overall). His defense ranked in the top five in all major categories and three defensive players were named to the "All-af2" team.
Following that outstanding season, Munsey was named "af2 Coach of the Year" in a vote by his peers.
Munsey began his coaching career with the Augusta Stallions of af2 in 2000. As defensive coordinator, he helped the Stallions to a 13-3 record and an American Conference Championship. Augusta's defense was one of only three defenses in the 16-team league to allow less than 600 points in the 16-game season. In addition, Munsey's defense ranked in the top five in total defense (4th), pass defense (5th), rushing defense (4th), first downs allowed (1st), and turnover margin (2nd). Three of his players were named to the first unit of the All-af2 team.
Prior to becoming a coach, Munsey was an Orlando Predators player. He appeared on the team's active roster in 1991, catching two passes for 29 yards. He would spend parts of the next four seasons (1992-95) on the Orlando's practice roster.
Munsey played college football at Concord College, a NCAA Division II institution located in West Virginia. A standout wide receiver, he led his team in receiving in three of his four years and was an All-West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Concord and served as a graduate assistant coach for the team in 1991.
A native of Orlando, Munsey was born August 19, 1968 and attended Winter Park High School.
Offensive Player of the Game
Week Opp. Player
1 @ AUS John Fitzgerald (QB)
2 SAN Marcus Nash (OS)
3 @ COL Willis Marshall (WR/DB)
4 GEO Elliot Jamin (WR)
5 @ DAL Dialleo Burks (WR/LB)
ADT Defensive Player of the Game
Week Opp. Player
1 @ AUS Damon Mason (DS)
2 SAN Wilky Bazile (DL)
3 @ COL Rashad Floyd (DS)
4 GEO Chris Brown (DS)
5 @ DAL Jermaine Jones (DS)
Army Ironman of the Game
Week Opp. Player
1 @ AUS Dane Krager (FB/LB)
2 SAN Marlion Jackson (FB/LB)
3 @ COL Willis Marshall (WR/DB)
4 GEO Robert Thomas (FB/LB)
5 @ DAL Will Pettus (WR/DB)
AFL TOP 10: League Leaders after Week 1
Player Rank Category Stat
Marcus Nash 4 Receiving Yardage 550
4 Scoring 80 pt.
5 Receptions 45
Marlion Jackson 2 Rushing Yards 84
Coco Blalock 6 Kickoff Return Avg. 20.6
10 All Purpose Yards 590
Defense Defense Defense
TJ Hill 5 Combined Tackles 34.5
4 Solo Tackles 33.0
Dameon Porter 4t Pass Breakups 9
Wilky Bazile 9t Sacks 2
Nick Davis 9t Solo Tackles 27
1 Special Teams Tack. Comb. 9
PLAYER MILESTONE CURRENT NUMBER TO GO
Wilky Bazile 20 Sacks 18.5 1.5
Wilky Bazile 150 Tackles 130 20
Coco Blalock 3000 Receiving Yards 2,927 73
Coco Blalock 50 Receiving Touchdowns 40 10
Coco Blalock 3000 Kick Return Yards 2,800 200
Joe Douglass 5,000 Receiving Yards 4,401 599
Joe Douglass 100 Receiving Touchdowns 98 2
Steve Konopka 20 Sacks 18 2
Steve Konopka 100 Tackles 77.5 22.5
Junior Lord 2,000 Receiving Yards 1,705 295
Marcus Nash 5,000 Receiving Yards 4,841 159
Marcus Nash 500 Receptions 398 102
Dameon Porter 30 Interceptios 28 2
Craig Whelihan 6,000 Passing Yards 5,015 985
Craig Whelihan 150 Touchdown Passes 102 48
GLADIATORS' PREVIEW, NOTES AND TRENDS
The Gladiators come into this game loser's of three in a row and are now in the cellar of the western division with a 1-4 overall record. The Philadelphia Soul visit with a 3-2 mark, good for second place in the eastern division, the Soul lost their last game at home versus reigning AFL Champion Colorado Crush. This is the first of three straight home contests for Las Vegas. After this week the schedule seems to soften a bit, after a brutal six game stretch (opponents combined record 19-11).
Las Vegas has moved the ball effectively this season, ranked 4th in total offense (304.4 yards per game). It has been the turnovers that have cost them, the red and black have coughed up the ball a league leading 17 times this year and are last in turnover margin (-6). Rookie QB, Jason Fife will make his second career start, the former Duck signal caller was effective in his first start at Dallas (24-36-2, 4TD passes, 2TD rushes). OS Marcus Nash leads the team in all major offensive categories; receptions (45), receiving yards (550), and touchdowns (13). FB/LB Marlion Jackson has amassed 84 rushing yards (2nd in AFL), 52 receiving yards, and two total
touchdowns. WR/LB Coco Blalock has been "Mr. Versatility" for the Gladiators; 21 receptions, 233
receiving yards, and a outstanding 590 all-purpose yards (10th in AFL). Ironman, WR/LB Joe Douglass has had three solid performances since returning from IR in week 3. Douglass has 16 catches, 233 yards, and five touchdowns. The Soul bring in the 10 ranked scoring offense (49.0 points per game) and the 11 ranked total offense (279.0 yards per game) into the Thomas and Mack. Led by QB Tony Graziani (Las Vegas native), the Soul have a balanced offensive attack with five receivers in double digit receptions. Leading receiver is OS Marcus Knight (34 rec, 346 yards, and 3 TD's). Las Vegas will also have to contend with WR/LB Sean Scott, 76 rushing yards (4th in AFL) to go along with 25 receptions for 257 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Gladiators are 16th in scoring defense after 5 games (57.2 points allowed per game) and tenth in total defense (266.3). They will have to improve on their 3rd down defense (59.7% opp. Conversion rate, 16th in AFL) if they plan on slowing down the Soul's offense. Leading tackler WR/DB TJ Hill, has been a force, with 34.5 combined tackles (5th in AFL), 1 INT, and 1 fumble recovery. DS Dameon Porter leads the team with 9 passes defended (tied for 4th in AFL). OL/DL Wilky Bazile has provided consistent pass rush with 2 sacks (tied for 9th in AFL). The Soul enter the game with the 6th ranked scoring defense (42.6 points allowed per game) and 13th rated overall defense (272.0 yards allowed per game). The defense has been opportunistic with a +3 turnover margin (4th in AFL). DS Eddie Moten leads the team in tackles (30.5). Veteran DS Kevin Gaines leads the team with 3 INT's. Philadelphia relies on their pass rush from OL/DL Ernest Allen who is tied for the team lead with 1.5 sacks.
Las Vegas's special teams have improved over the past two games. KR Coco Blalock has been spectacular averaging 20.6 yards on kickoff returns. K Eric Houle has settled down on his PAT attempts, converting 12 of 14 attempts in past two contests. The Soul has the 12th rated kickoff return average (15.9 yards per return). K Todd France is 5 of 11 on field goal attempts on the year.
HOMECOMING FOR FIFE
Rookie QB Jason Fife (University of Oregon) will make his first career home AFL start, this week. Fife was impressive in his first career AFL start (24-36-2, 299 yards, 2 rushing TD's). Fife spent last season in Europe, playing for the Rhein Fire (allocated by the Minnesota Vikings).
QB OR RB?
Starting QB Jason Fife is no doubt the prototypical signal caller. At 6"4 225 lbs and a rocket arm, Fife has all the physical tools to be successful in this league. It's his legs that could give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares. In his first start, Fife rushed for two scores. While at the University of Oregon, Fife had 289 career rushing yards and 8 career rushing scores.
OS Marcus Nash has been rock solid for the red and black this year. The 2004 AFL's Offensive MVP has averaged 9 catches, 110 yards receiving, and just over 2 touchdowns per outing this season. Nash has had to adjust to three starting quarterbacks in the last six regular season games dating back to the end of the 2005 season (Dolezel, Whelihan, Fife).
Gladiators DS Nick Davis and the Soul's DS Eddie Moten, have traveled the same path on their way to the prominence of the AFL. They played together, while both being recognized as All American defensive backs at Division II Texas A&M Kingsville. Following their collegiate career in 2004, they both played in the secondary for AFL2's Rio Grande Dorados. Oddly enough, the head coach for the Dorados was Gary Gussman (currently the special teams coach for Las Vegas).
FB/LB Marlion Jackson spent the 2004 and half the 2005 season with the Philadelphia Soul before a midseason trade brought his services to Las Vegas. Jackson was a bargain, traded for future considerations. Jackson is currently second in the AFL in rushing (84 yards).
NO SITTING DUCKS
This week six match-up will witness two former Oregon Ducks standout quarterbacks. Jason Fife, played for the Ducks from 2000-2003 and finished his collegiate career with 3,702 yards and 30 touchdowns. Eight years his elder, Tony Graziani played for the Ducks 1993-1996. Graziani was a four-year letterman and led the Ducks to the 1995 Rose Bowl. This week is a homecoming for Graziani, he was born in the "sin city".
DAVIS IS SPECIAL
Rookie DS Nick Davis has been an impact special teams player this season. Davis not only leads the team with 9 special teams tackles, but leads the AFL in that same category. Davis is also in the top ten in combined tackles this year (tied for ninth with 27 combined tackles in the AFL).
PLAY VEGAS, WIN AFL POW
For two straight weeks, Gladiators opponents have earned Player of the Week honors in the AFL. In Week 4, Georgia Force DS Chris Brown earned Defensive Player of the Week after returning two INTs for touchdowns vs. the Red & Black and last week, Dallas Desperados WR/DB Will Pettis earned Ironman of the Week after scoring three touchdowns vs. Las Vegas in the Desperados' victory.
GOES EAST YOUNG MAN
Brian Sternberg, who spent three years as the media coordinator for the Las Vegas Gladiators left Las Vegas this past off-season to take a similar position with the Philadelphia Soul. Sternberg, whose family hails from near-by New Jersey, is now the Communications/Community Relations Manager for Philadelphia.
PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR PHILADELPHIA
# 7 QB TONY GRAZIANI- This six year AFL pro has connected on 60 of 99 attempts for 786 yards, 12 TD passes and four INT's. #7 has one rushing score on the year. Graziani missed time this season due to a dislocated index finger on his throwing hand. Graziani remains the only QB in AFL history to throw for 90 TD's in three straight seasons (2003-2005).
# 12 OS MARCUS KNIGHT - In his second year with the Soul, Knight has emerged as Graziani's go-to receiver. He leads the team in receptions (34) and receiving yards (346). Knight is the teams key special teams performer, leading the squad with 12 kickoff returns for 190 yards.
# 88 WR/DB SEAN SCOTT - A versatile two-way player who adds offensive and defensive balance. Scott has 76 yards rushing (4th in AFL), 25 receptions for 257 yards (both 2nd on team), and has 7 total TD's ( tied for team lead). On defense he has 11 total tackles, one interception, and three passes defended.
# 21 DS EDDIE MOTEN - In his second year from Texas A&M-Kingsville, Moten leads the team in tackles (30.5) and passes defended (9). Moten has also recorded an interception on the season.
# 18 DS KEVIN GAINES - Gaines is in his 9th year from Louisville and first season with the Soul. Gaines entered this season ninth all-time in the AFL in tackles (430) and seventh all-time in interceptions (35). Gaines is off to a great 2006 campaign, with 25.5 total tackles, three interceptions, four passes defended, and 1 forced fumble.
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