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Memphis Xplorers game notes

March 30, 2006 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

Memphis Xplorers (0-0)
at Tennessee Valley Vipers (0-0)
Date: Saturday, April 1, 2006
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CT
Site: Von Braun Center (6,642)
National Anthem:
Coin Toss:
Referee: Marc Curles
Umpire: Stan Jackson Head Linesman: Dirk Bell Line Judge: Larry Neal
Back Judge: Rod Skelton
Radio: 730 ESPN (KQPN AM 730), Jim Erickson
TV: None
Series Record: Vipers lead 6-1
Last Meeting: 54-48 MEM 6/26/04 @ MEM
Streaks: Xplorers 6 wins (2005 regular season)
(9 including playoffs)
Vipers 4 wins (2004 regular season)
Coaches: Danton Barto (34-30; 3-1 playoffs, 5th Season)
Chris Williams (0-0, 0-0 playoffs, First Season)

THE STAKES: The Xplorers open defense of their ArenaCup Championship from 2005. They will also try to get a jump in their new division, the South, as this is the first of 5 straight games versus divisional foes.

THE SERIES: This will be the 8th all-time meeting between these teams with the Vipers holding a 6-1 edge (3-1 @ home / 3-0 @ MEM). Tennessee Valley returns to af2 after not operating in 2005.

If Memphis defeats Tennessee Valley, it would ...
- Give Memphis a 3-3 record in season openers.
- Give Memphis their 2nd straight win over Tenn. Valley after losing the first 6 meetings.
- Give Memphis it's 7th straight regular season win (10th if postseason is included)
- Give Memphis' Danton Barto his 35th career regular season victory as Head Coach.
- Give Memphis a 20-21 all-time record on the road
- Give Memphis their first ever win in Huntsville.

MEMPHIS (0-0, WON 6)
Date Opponent W/L Score
Sat, 4/1 @ Tenn Valley 7:30
Sat, 4/8 Florida 7:00
Sat, 4/15 Tenn Valley 7:00
Sat, 4/22 @ Florida 6:30
Fri, 4/28 Macon 7:00
Sat, 5/6 Manchester 7:00
Sat, 5/13 @ South Georgia 6:30
Sat, 5/20 Bossier-Shreveport 7:00
Sun, 5/28 @ Amarillo 3:00
Sat, 6/3 @ Stockton 9:00
Sat, 6/17 Birmingham 7:00
Sat, 6/24 South Georgia 7:00
Fri, 6/30 @ Macon 6:30
Sat, 7/8 @ Louisville 6:00
Sat, 7/15 Amarillo 7:00
Sat, 7/22 @ Birmingham 7:00

Date Opponent W/L Score
Sat, 4/1 Memphis 7:30
Sat, 4/8 @ South Georgia 6:30
Sat, 4/15 @ Memphis 7:00
Sat, 4/22 Macon 7:30
Sat, 4/29 @ Arkansas 7:00
Sat, 5/6 Florida 7:30
Sat, 5/20 Birmingham 7:30
Sat, 5/27 Louisville 7:30
Sat, 6/3 @ Florida 6:30
Sat, 6/10 Bakersfield 7:30
Sat, 6/17 @ Bossier-Shreve 7:00
Sat, 6/24 Quad City 7:30
Sat, 7/8 @ Quad City 7:30
Sat, 7/15 South Georgia 7:30
Sat, 7/22 @ Macon 6:30
Sat, 7/29 @ Birmingham 7:30

Danton Barto-Memphis
Barto is entering his fifth season as the Head Coach of the Memphis Xplorers. His career regular season record stands at 34-30 and 3-1 in the postseason. He is the winningest coach in af2 over the last two seasons. In each of the four seasons under Barto, the Xplorers have improved on the previous season's win total. Last season, he was named the af2 Coach of the Year as he led the Xplorers to their best season in franchise history; a 13-3 regular season mark, a Midwest Division title and the 2005 ArenaCup Championship. In 2004, Memphis won ten games and earned their first trip to the playoffs, before falling to the eventual champion Florida Firecats on a last second field goal miss. Barto was promoted from defensive coordinater to the head coach position prior to the 2002 season and won his first three games in what turned out to be a 5-11 season. Coach Barto is still considered a University of Memphis legend; he currently is the only player to be named to the All-American team three different years. He is still ranked number one in career tackles for the University of Memphis with 473. Coach Barto also enjoyed a 5-year professional career in the CFL and AFL leagues. Coach Barto currently resides with his wife Rachel and his 7-year-old son Will in Bartlett, Tennessee.

Chris Williams-Tennessee Valley
A native of Mobile, Alabama, Williams comes to the Tennessee Valley Vipers after serving as the Head Coach and Director of Football Operations for the Odessa (TX) Roughnecks of the National Indoor Football League (NIFL) for the last two years.
Williams began his arena football-coaching career with the Birmingham Steeldogs of Arena Football 2. During his tenure at Birmingham, the Steeldogs had a regular season record of 24-8 and had two playoff appearances, including an Arena Cup final four appearance in 2002. While at Birmingham, Williams climbed the coaching ladder quickly, starting as Fullback/Linebackers Coach in 2001, Wide Receivers Coach/Co-Offensive Coordinator in 2002 and finally being promoted to Offensive Coordinator at the close of the 2002 season. He then went on to serve as Offensive Coordinator and Director of Player Personnel at Wilkes- Barre/Scranton (AF2) in 2003. Williams played the fullback position during his college playing days. He enjoyed his best year as a collegian, when as a junior, he rushed for 437 yards and 5 touchdowns at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Williams also spent one season at the University of West Alabama, rushing for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns in 1993. Williams played professionally in the Football League of Europe. In his most productive season he rushed for 1,089 yards and 21 touchdowns playing fullback for the Munich, Germany franchise.

Memphis QB Michael Wall was 21 for 27 for 344 yards and 6 TD as the Xplorers won their first game ever versus the Vipers after falling in the first 6. Wall added a rushing TD to go with his still standing team record 344 yards. Vipers QB Josh Kellett was 23 for 38, 281 yards, 6 TD and 3 INT. Memphis' Steven Green, now a star on TLC's Adam Carolla Project, kicked a pair of field goals (20, 33). Memphis' Kevin Prentiss set a team record that still stands with 227 yards on 12 receptions and 4 TD. After the teams combined for 78 points in the first half, Memphis out-scored Tennessee Valley 17-7 in the second to rally for the win at the DeSoto Civic Center.

The Vipers are returning to af2 after not operating in 2005. The Vipers were one of the most successful teams in af2 from 2000-2004 both on the field and in the stands. Tennessee Valley put together a 63-17 record from 2000-2004, 34-6 at home and 29-11 on the road. The organization currently ranks first in af2 history in winning percentage (78.8), third in all-time wins (63), second in post-season appearances (5), third in home wins (34) and third in road wins (29). They are also tied for the most divisional titles with four.

The Xplorers' 54-48 win on 6/24 at the DCC is Tennessee's last regular season loss. The last game the Vipers played before taking 2005 off was a 62-58 home loss to Florida in the American Conference Semis on 8/13/04.

The Xplorers had what was believed to be a record 12 players signed by AFL teams following their 2005 ArenaCup title run. A few others had training camp try-outs with teams. Of the 12, 6 are still with AFL clubs: WR/DB Sale Key (Utah); OL/DL Lewis Powell (Utah); af2 Lineman of the Year Khreem Smith (Chicago);
af2 Defensive Player of the Year DS Dahnel Singfield (New York); FB/LB Lavante Epson (Grand Rapids); OL/DL Delanio Taylor (Orlando).

The 2005 Xplorers were tops in both points scored per game (55.8) and points given up per game (37.6). The 37.6 points given up per game were more than 2 full points less than the #2 team, Florida Firecats.

The 2005 Xplorers defense led the af2 in interceptions (31) and sacks (36).

Memphis' opening season roster has 9 players that were with the team last season: K Steven Azar, OL/DL Joseph Crear, DS Scott Cunningham, WR/DB Deon Giddens, OL/DL Kenyun Glover, QB Brian Jones, OL/DL Phillip Perry WR/DB Terrell Adams and WR/DB Terrance Quattlebaum.

The Xplorers play 5 of their first 8 games at home and 5 of their last eight, including 3 of the last 4, on the road.

The Xplorers first 5 games are all versus South Division foes.

Coach Barto is the winningest coach in af2 over the last two seasons at 23-9.

The Xplorers enter the season with a 37-43 all time regular season record, 18-22 at home, 19-21 on the road.

(1-6 / 1-3 Home / 0-3 Away)
4/7/01 55-14 L @ Tennessee Valley
6/30/01 49-48 L @ Memphis
5/11/02 57-46 L @ Memphis
7/20/02 81-31 L @ Tennessee Valley
7/5/03 51-36 L @ Memphis
5/1/04 43-33 L @ Tennessee Valley
6/26/04 54-48 W @ Memphis

LEAGUE TOP 10s: Players from this week's matchup who rank among af2's statistical leaders:
Player Rank Category Stat

Player Rank Category Stat

From 2005
Category Rank Stat Rank Stat
Scoring Offense 1-t 55.8
Scoring Defense 1 37.6
Total Offense 15 248.1
Total Defense 4 243.1
Pass Offense 15 225.4
Pass Defense 4 221.6
Rushing Offense 9 22.7
Rushing Defense 14 21.6
Scoring (Kicking) 5 7.6
Pass Rating 2 119.2
Pass Def. Rating 1 77.1
Kickoff Returns 1 23.1
MFG Returns 17 12.4
Turnover Margin 1 +29
Field Goals 5 9-24
PAT Kicking 14 94-124
Sacks By 1 36
Sacks Against 1-t 31
First Downs 18 251
Opp. First Downs 2 269
Penalties 17 64.4
Opp. Penalties 7 61.7

Pos. Name Injury Status


Danton Barto
On beginning season with a young team...

"We are excited to start the season and see what our new guys can do. We think that we have brought in some great talent that will be able to step up and make plays."

On being the reigning ArenaCup Champs...

"Anytime you are the defending champion of anything, you are going to have a bull's eye. We know we need to be intense every game and also get the season off to a good start."

On opening season with the return of the Vipers in Huntsville....

"They have been one of the flagship franchises in af2 and we are excited to have them back. Even though they have dominated the series, most of our match ups have been close. It should be a fun atmosphere to open the season."



FORWARD MOTION: Next week the Xplorers host their home opener with 2004 ArenaCup Champ and 2005 American Conference Runner-Up Florida at 7:05. The Xplorers and Firecats haven't played since the 2004 playoffs when the eventual champs nipped the Xplorers 35-33.

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RECENT ROSTER MOVES (most recent first):
Date Action Player
3/29 Assigned WR/DB Terrell Adams
3/29 Activated from OLE OS Kenny Higgins
3/29 Placed on ST IR WR/DB Tommy Manus
3/29 Placed on ST IR FB/LB Chris Peavy

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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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