Las Vegas Gladiators game notes
GLADIATORS VS. RATTLERS: THE FACTS
Date: Friday, May 5, 2006
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. Pacific
Site: US Airways Center (Phoenix, Arizona)
Officials: Referee: David Cutaia, Umpire: Doug Wilson, Head Linesman: Greg Shields, Line Judge: Dave Chesney Back Judge: James Cole
THE GAME CAN BE HEARD...
On ESPNRadio 920 in Las Vegas with Andrew Siciliano handling play-by-play and Mike Pritchard with expert analysis.
THE GAME CAN BE SEEN...
Log on to AFL.net for live play-by play of the game.
THE SERIES - GLADIATORS VS. RATTLERS
Rattlers lead regular-season 5-2. Arizona gave Las Vegas all they could handle and cruised to a 47-33 victory at the Thomas and Mack Center. QB Sherderick Bonner completed 22-of-33 attempts for 341 yards and five TD's, while Darrel Jones torched the Gladiator secondary grabbing 8 balls for 176 yards and three scores.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
If the Gladiators win, it would
- Give the Gladiators a 3-5 overall record versus Arizona
- Give Las Vegas a 6-9 overall record
- Give Las Vegas a 2-5 road record
- Give Las Vegas a 4-3 division record
GLADIATORS PREVIOUS GAME WEEK 7
Gladiators fall to Utah 63-52
Offensive Player of the Game QB Andy Kelly
Defensive Player of the Game WR/DB Orshawante Bryant
Ironman of the Game WR/LB Tom Pace
Saturday, April 29 2006 (Las Vegas, NV) - The Las Vegas Gladiators (5-9) fell to Andy Kelly and the Utah Blaze (6-8) 63-52 Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack Center. The Gladiators are holding on to slim playoff hopes but the loss drops them out of the sixth and final spot in the American Conference.
Quarterback Craig Whelihan completed 26-of43 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns despite two interceptions. WR/DB Joe Douglass led the effort offensively hauling in eight passes for 76 yards and one score. Rookie WR/DB Aleric Clark continued his stellar play grabbing four passes for 51 yards and a touchdown, Clark also returned the opening kickoff 57 yards for a touchdown.
Las Vegas was led defensively by DS Ivory McCann who registered 11 tackles and three pass breakups.
Utah was led by veteran quarterback Andy Kelly who passed for 312 yards and nine touchdowns on 25-of-33 passing. OS Siaha Burly finished with 7 receptions for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Kelly is now the AFL's all-time leader in touchdown passes with 762 for his career.
The Gladiators will be on the road for the final two games of the regular season. Las Vegas will travel to Arizona to take on the Rattlers on next Friday. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. (pacific).
Ron James (Second Season, 13-17)
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.
Gene Nudo (First Season 7-7)
Gene Nudo, the AFL's only three-time Executive of the Year, is celebrating his twelfth season with the Arizona Rattlers and first as the team's head coach.
Nudo, who joined the Rattlers as an assistant head coach in 1995 after serving as the Arena Football League's Vice President of Football Operations, became the team's Vice President of Administration the following season.
The 2002 AFL Hall of Fame Nominee also served as the team's Vice President of Operations for eight seasons before becoming general manager in 2004. While overseeing day-to-day football operations, Nudo helped the Rattlers earn five consecutive commissioner awards for the AFL's "Best Organization" (1996-2000) while earning an unprecedented three "Executive of the Year" awards (1997, 1999, 2000).
A member of the AFL Board of Directors Executive Committee, Nudo has also served as the chairman of the AFL's Rules and Competition Committee and as a member of the league's Labor Relations Committee. He was instrumental in helping the AFL and its players enter into an interim collective bargaining agreement in 2000.
During the 2002 season, Nudo was awarded the AFL's prestigious Founder's Award, given to a person that has dedicated his life and career to the growth and improvement of Arena Football.
A true pioneer in the AFL, Nudo coached the first-ever Arena Football games in Rockford, Ill. (1986) as well as it's "Showcase Game" in Rosemont, Ill. (1987). He would later serve as the Director of Player Personnel and assistant coach for the Chicago Bruisers (1987-88), helping guide them to a berth in ArenaBowl II.
In his 12 seasons at the team level, Nudo's franchises have competed in five ArenaBowls, winning one with the Rattlers in 1997.
Nudo began his coaching career in 1981 as head coach of the River Grove Cowboys of Chicago's Metropolitan Football League. As a head coach, he won five championships in six seasons, including the 1984 AFA Semi-Professional National Championship in Mobile, Ala. He would later lead Chicago's Driscoll Catholic High School to an undefeated 1991 Illinois State High School Championship. Overall, Nudo compiled a 96-20-1 record as a coach, earning a 1992 induction into the Minor League Hall of Fame.
Born on April 13, 1958, Nudo is a native of Ridgewood, Ill., where he attended Ridgewood High School. He played at Triton Community College before majoring in Speech Communications at Illinois State University.
Gene and his wife Mary are very active in various valley charities and live in Scottsdale with their three children: Katie, Nicholas, and Jack.
GLADIATORS' PREVIEW NOTES AND TRENDS
This is do-or-die situation for the Gladiators. The Rattlers hold a head-to-head victory (14 point margin) over Las Vegas and can clinch a playoff entry with a win. If Las Vegas can win by 15 points or more they will hold the tie-breaker between the teams. Las Vegas is reeling, losing four straight while Arizona has dropped two in a row.
The Gladiators are ranked 13th in total offense (280.2 yards per game), and are ranked 7th in scoring offense (51.0 points per game). QB Craig Whelihan (131-of-223-11... 1677 yards...30 TD's) replaced Jason Fife (161-of-267-9....1810 yards....35 TD's) last week versus Utah. OS Marcus Nash (108 receptions...1206 yards.....28 TD's), WR/LB Joe Douglass (55 receptions...653 yards...12 TD's) and WR/DB Aleric Clark (15 receptions....216 yards....5 TD's) will be the primary targets for Whelihan and Fife. The league's most potent rushing attack is led by FB/LB Marlion Jackson (25 carries....127 yards...4 TD's) QB Jason Fife (42 carries....158 yards...11 TD's) and FB/LB Rodney Filer (22 carries....99 yards...1 TD). Arizona enters with the 15th ranked scoring offense (47.4 points per game) and 12th in total offense (280.8 yards per game). QB Sherdrick Bonner (266-of-467-15...3593 yards...73 TD's) has been solid all year. Bonner's three primary targets will be WR/DB Randy Gatewood (76 receptions....998 yards...29 TD's), WR/LB Cosmo DeMatteo (54 receptions....654 yards...5 TD's) and OS Damien Groce (50 receptions....717 yards....17 TD's). On the ground the Rattler's will count on FB/LB Bo Kelly (35 carries...68 yards...5 TD's).
The Gladiators are ranked 17th in scoring defense (55.4 points allowed per game) and 18th in total defense (306.6 yards allowed per game). The secondary has been revamped adding former Rattler DS Art Smith, Tony Lukins and activating practice-squad rookie Ivory McCann.
WR/DB Anthony Arceneaux is the teams leading active tackler (27.5 tackles...2 INT's...and 4 pass breakups). OL/DL Wilky Bazile (14.5 tackles...3.5 sacks) and OL/DL Steve Konopka (11 tackles....2.5 sacks...2 pass breakups) will supply the pressure up front. Arizona has the 3rd rated overall defense (270.8 yards allowed per game) and the 6th rated scoring defense (47.8 points allowed per game). Ironman WR/DB Randy Gatewood (58 tackles....3 INT's....6 pass breakups) leads the charge defensively. OL/DL Wendell Gaines (6.5 tackles....4.5 sacks) will be a force up front.
SPECIAL TEAMS PREVIEW
K Eric Houle (80-of-92 PAT's.....6-of-13 FG's) has come on strong in recent weeks. The return and coverage teams have been tremendous all year. WR/DB Aleric Clark (47 returns....1024 yards....21.8 avg....3 TD's) has been spectacular through 8 games this year. Arizona K Gary Kral (74-of-87 PAT's....10-of-28 FG's) has struggled this year. Arizona also possesses solid return and coverage units. DS Clarence Lawson (38 returns...720 yards...18.9 avg...1TD) will soak up the returns of the net.
HEROIC PERFORMANCE FOR WHELIHAN
Gladiator QB Craig Whelihan had a night he'll never forget after the Gladiators suffered a devastating loss versus Utah on Saturday, April 29. Whelihan and a child-hood buddy miraculously pulled a woman from a burning car late Saturday night. The vehicle had plunged down an embankment when Whelihan and his friend raced down to pull her from the burning car. Whelihan's story attracted local attention as he was acknowledged for his heroics on multiple media outlets.
PROTECT IT WITH YOUR LIFE
The indoor game is dissected, combed through, and analyzed each week in order to figure out which team has the edge heading into the game. For the Gladiators it has been simple, do not turn the ball over. The "red and black" are 4-2 in games in which they have either tied or won the turnover battle. The team is 0-7 when losing the turnover battle. Last week versus Utah was not a exception, losing the ball twice (2 INT's) while the Blaze didn't commit a single turnover. Through 14 weeks, Las Vegas has coughed up the ball an embarrassing 16 times more than their opponents (18th in AFL).
Standing 5'9" and 175 lbs., Aleric Clark is hardly an imposing figure on the field, however he has made quite a splash in his rookie AFL campaign. Clark has complied 1,100 yards on 51 returns (21.6 return avg.) this season, finishing three off with an endzone celebration. Clark's 21.6 return average places him fourth in the AFL's average per return category.
GLADIATORS VERUS THE WEST
Las Vegas (3-3 Western Division record) will spend the remaining two games in the Western Division. The Gladiators won three of their first five Western Division games before dropping their last two. The "red and black" will hope to become road warriors, playing their final two in Arizona and Los Angeles.
BIG RETURN ON YOUR INVESTMENT
The special teams unit for the Gladiators has been outstanding this season. The Gladiators are ranked in the top five in kickoff coverage (2nd allowing 14.5 yards per return) and kickoff returns (2nd, 19.9 yards per return). The duo of WR/DB Coco Blalock and WR/DB Aleric Clark has been tremendous this season. Blalock is averaging 22.7 yards per return (tied for 2rd in AFL) and in Blalocks absence, Clark has 47 kickoff returns for 1024 yards (21.8 yards per return) adding three returns for scores.
NUMBER #1 RUSHING TEAM IN AFL
Who says you can't run the ball effectively in the AFL. The Gladiators are doing just that through 14 weeks this season. The Gladiators have the most potent rushing attack in the league (35.1 yards per game), behind the efforts of FB/LB Marlion Jackson, FB/LB Rodney Filer and sensational rookie QB Jason Fife. Las Vegas has the top three of the top 14 rushers in the AFL; Jason Fife (2nd 158 yards), Jackson (8th, 127 yards) and Filer (14th, 99 yards).
WR/LB has been rock solid for the Gladiators amid the injuries and roster moves. Douglass has contributed offensively with 55 receptions for 653 yards and 12TD's, adding 36 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns to his tallies. Defensively he has scored twice, recorded 20.5 tackles, one sack, one INT and two fumble recoveries.
TALE OF TWO SEASONS
Gladiator rookie K Eric Houle (Saginaw Valley State) had his struggles early this season. In his first six games Houle had only one field goal (1-6) and watched 8 of his 38 PAT attempts sail wide. Houle's 2006 AFL career has been resurrected, in the last eight weeks he has directed 50-of-53 PAT's through the uprights and booted 4-of-6 three-pointers. Houle is has 27 touchbacks this season (2nd in AFL).
MONEY IN THE FOURTH QUARTER
The Gladiators have posted a 3-1 record this year when leading after three quarters. Although the Gladiators have been outscored 131-111 in the final quarter, when leading they have the knack to slam the door shut.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
The Gladiators have compiled a 4-4 home record this season and are 19-13 all-time at the Thomas and Mack Center.
CHASING A RECORD
Rookie QB Jason Fife has not only shown off his rifle arm this season, but has let his legs to do the talking on the field. Fife is the second leading rusher on the team (42 carries...158 yards..11 TD's). The former Oregon Duck is chasing the rushing TD mark for a QB in a season (Aaron Garcia in 1999 playing for Iowa, had 15 rushing TD's, Jay McDonagh in 2003 had 15 touchdowns). Fife is averaging 1.6 rushing TD's per game, if he continues this pace he will finish with rushing 15 TD's on the season.
OS Marcus Nash has piled up 28 receiving touchdowns this season (2.0 scores per game) for the red and black. He is on pace for 32 which would fall short his mark last season, when he caught 41 TD's. Nash's career best was 46 touchdown grabs in 2004. He was recognized for his efforts, winning the AFL's Offensive Player of the Year.
IN THE TRENCHES
In a league where the spotlight is constantly on skill players, consistency on the OL/DL is certainly a key for success. OL/DL Wilky Bazile, OL/DL Chukie Nwokorie, DL Alonzo Spellman and OL/DL Tyshuan Whitson have appeared in all 14 games this season.
OL/DL Vince Amey is in his third season with Arizona. Amey is no stranger to the big lights of Vegas, spending the 2004 training camp with the Gladiators before being picked up by Arizona. Former Honorable Mention All-American UNLV standout WR Randy Gatewood returns to UNLV this week. WR/LB Gatewood has won the AFL's Ironman of the Week in consecutive games (Week 6, Week 7).
PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR THE RATTLERS
#13 QB - SHERDRICK BONNER
Bonner has appeared in 12 games this season completing 266-of-467-15 attempts for 3593 yards with 73 TD's.
#83 OS - DAMIEN GROCE
In his first season with the Rattlers, Groce has been solid, hauling in 50 passes for 717 yards and 17 TD's.
#37 WR/DB - RANDY GATEWOOD
Recognized as one of the top Ironman performers in the AFL, the 11-year veteran has been a key performer on both sides of the ball for Arizona. Gatewood has 76 receptions for 998 yards and 29 touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball he has 58.0 tackles, three INT's, six pass deflections and two forced fumbles.
#2 FB/LB - BO KELLY
In his 11th season this veteran AFL star adds toughness and balance to the squad. Kelly has recorded a team-high five rushing TD's adding 68 yards on the ground. On the defensive side of the ball, the former East Texas State star has 28.5 tackles, eight pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.
#27 DS - CLARANCE LAWSON
In only nine appearances this year Lawson has been active recording 46.0 tackles, three INT's, 11 pass breakups and three fumble recoveries.
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