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Memphis Xplorers game notes

April 6, 2006 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

QUICK FACTS:
Florida Firecats (0-0)
At Memphis Xplorers (1-0)
Date: Saturday, April 8, 2006
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Site: DeSoto Civic Center (8,400)
National Anthem:
Coin Toss:
Referee: Fred Wiedower
Umpire: Chad Walker
Head Linesman: Karl Lane
Line Judge: Chris Jamison
Back Judge: Brad Freeman
Radio: 730 ESPN, Jim Erickson, Russ Young
TV: None
Series Record: Firecats lead 4-2 (5-2 inc. playoffs)
Last Meeting: 35-33 FLA 8/7/04 @ FLA (1st RD)
Streaks: Xplorers- 1 win (4 dating back to 7/16/05)
(7 including playoffs)
Firecats- first game
Coaches: Danton Barto (35-30; 3-1 playoffs, 5th Season)
Kevin Bouis (14-2, 1-1 playoffs, 2nd Season)

THE STAKES: This is a match up of the past two ArenaCup Champions. Florida won the title in 2004 and with the Xplorers raising the banner of their 2005 ArenaCup win before the game on Saturday. This is the Firecats season opener, while the Xplorers are 1-0 after last weeks' win at Tennessee Valley in their opener.

THE SERIES: This will be the 7th all-time regular season meeting between these teams with the Firecats holding a 4-2 edge (2-1 @ home / 2-1 @ MEM). Florida is also 1-0 versus Memphis in the postseason.

THE IFs:
If Memphis defeats Tennessee Valley, it would ...
- Give Memphis a 2-0 season record and keep them in first in the South Division.
- Give Memphis its 3rd win all-time over Florida.
- Give Memphis it's 5th straight regular season win (8th if postseason is included)
- Give Memphis a 5-1 record in home openers
- Give Memphis a 19-22 all-time record on the road.
MEMPHIS (0-0, WON 1)
Date Opponent W/L Score
Sat, 4/1 @ Tenn Valley 7:30 W 47-25
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

FLORIDA (0-0)
Date Opponent W/L Score
Sat, 4/8 @ Memphis 8:00
Sat, 4/15 @ Macon 7:30
Sat, 4/22 Memphis 7:30
Sat, 4/29 @ Bos-Shreveport 8:00
Sat, 5/6 @ Tenn Valley 8:30
Sat, 5/13 Birmingham 8:00
Sat, 5/20 @ Manchester 7:30
Sat, 5/27 South Georgia 7:30
Sat, 6/3 Tennessee Valley 7:30
Sat, 6/17 Macon 7:30
Sat, 6/24 @ Birmingham 8:00
Sat, 7/1 Green Bay 7:30
Sat, 7/8 @ W-B/Scranton 7:00
Sat, 7/15 Albany 7:30
Sat, 7/22 Louisville 7:30
Sat, 7/29 @ South Georgia 7:30


HEAD COACHES:
Danton Barto-Memphis
Barto is entering his fifth season as the Head Coach of the Memphis Xplorers. His career regular season record stands at 35-30 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.

Kevin Bouis-Florida
Bouis is in his 2nd season as head coach of the Firecats and his 4th season overall. He was promoted to the head coach position prior to the 2005 Season. He led the Firecats to a league-best 14-2 record, a division title and American Conference runner up. A former player for the the National Indoor Football League Mississippi Firedogs, Bouis helped his team win 2 League Championships with All League Honors. He also led the team in interceptions with 13 and 30 total defensive turnovers (23 int. 7 fumbles recovered). Bouis played college football at Kentucky. While he was there he started as a true freshmen as a safety. He majored in kinesiology.

LAST SERIES MEETING: 35-33 FLA 8/7/04 @ FLA
(1st Rd Playoffs)
The eventual 2004 Arena Cup Champs almost didn't make it to the second round as Memphis missed a 13 yard field goal on the final play in a 35-33 Florida win. It was the Xplorers first ever playoff game and the first ever home playoff game for the Firecats. Memphis OS Kevin Prentiss caught 6 passes for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also returned a kickoff for a score. DS Dahnel Singfield had 9 tackles and 1 INT to the Xplorers defensively. The Firecats went on to defeat Tennessee Valley, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Peoria in their ArenaCup run.

LAST WEEK'S RECAP
The Xplorers made it a successful debut in the defense of their ArenaCup championship with a 47-25 win over the Tennessee Valley Vipers Saturday night in Huntsville, AL in the 2006 season opener. Brian Jones threw for 295 yards and 6 touchdowns and Kenny Higgins made his debut as offensive specialist with 8 catches for 172 yards and 3 touchdowns. Despite those offensive numbers, it was the defensive stops that won this game for Memphis. Two consecutive stops in the first half and a goal line stand late in the third quarter turned the tide in the Xplorers' favor. After the first half ended with a 26-19 Memphis advantage, the visitors outscored the home Vipers 21-7 in the second half, 21-0 in the 4th quarter.

Jones was the Schutt Offensive Player of the Game while Deon Giddens took home the ADT Defensive Player honors. Giddens made a team record 13 tackles to lead the defense.

XPLORERS X-TRA POINTS:
The Xplorers' 47-25 win at Tennessee Valley on Saturday night improved their record in season openers to 3-3.

The win was also the first all-time for the Xplorers at the Von Braun Center; they are now 1-3 in Huntsville and 2-6 all-time versus the Vipers.

The 25 points given up by Memphis was the lowest total of points allowed in the af2 in week one.

With his 295 yards passing in the win over Tennessee Valley, QB Brian Jones surpassed 5,000 passing yards in his af2 career with the Xplorers. His current total of 5,257 is second to Tim Lester's 5,778 on the Xplorers' all-time list. Lester played for the Xplorers in 2001 and 2002.

Rookie OS Kenny Higgins had the best week one receiving yards performance in af2 with 172 yards on 8 receptions. His 3 touchdowns were one less than the week one high.

DS Deon Giddens' 13 tackles in the season opener broke the team single-game record of 11.5 set by Kenzaki Jones versus Cape Fear on 7/3/04. His total of 13 is also tied for the 5th all-time highest single-game total in af2 history. Adrian Jones and Jermaine Toney on the now defunct Greensboro Prowlers share the league mark with 16.5 in separate games in 2003 and 2002, respectively.

Entering the 2006 home opener, the Xplorers' are 18-22 all-time at home. The win on Saturday improved their all-time road record to 20-21.

The Xplores are 4-1 all-time in season openers since joining the af2 in 2001. In fact, they have won their last four home openers including last season's 54-13 win over Arkansas on 4/15. Saturday will be the second time that the Florida Firecats have provided the opposition for a Memphis home opener. The Xplorers defeated the Firecats 54-51 on 4/17/04 at the DCC.

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).

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.

Three players on the roster are from Memphis or played college ball in the Bluff City. Second year OL/DL Kenyun Glover played at the University of Memphis as did rookie OL/DL Gene Frederic. Memphis native Chris Eggleston, who is in his 5th af2 season, went to school at the U of M, but did not play football.

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.

Former 2005 Xplorer WR/DB Elgin Hicks now plays for the Firecats. Hicks played in 3 of the final 4 regular season games and 1 playoff game. In the 3 regular season games, the former South Florida Bull made 4.5 tackles and an caught 3 passes for 25 yards.

These same two teams will play in two weeks on 4/22 in Florida's home opener.

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

Coach Barto is the winningest coach in af2 over the last two-plus seasons at 24-9.

XPLORERS VS FLORIDA FIRECATS
(2-4 / 1-2 Home / 1-2 Away / 0-1 Playoffs)
4/27/02 30-25 L @ Memphis
6/29/02 34-32 W @ Florida
4/26/03 53-42 L @ Memphis
6/7/03 52-30 L @ Florida
4/17/04 54-51 W @ Memphis
5/29/04 43-20 L @ Florida
8/7/04 35-33 L @ Florida (1st Rd)

LEAGUE TOP 10s: Players from this week's match-up who rank among af2's statistical leaders:
XPLORERS
Player Rank Category Stat
Brian Jones 2 Total Offense 320yds/gm
Brian Jones 3-t Total Off. TDs 7
Kenny Higgins 6-t Scoring 18pt/gm
Steven Azar 7-t Scoring (Kick) 5pts
Kenny Higgins 4 All Purpose Yd 172 yds
Brian Jones 2 Rushing 25yds/gm
Brian Jones 4-t Rushing TDs 1
Brian Jones 3 Yards/Rush 5.0
Brian Jones 3 Passing Yards 295/gm
Brian Jones 2 Yards/Comp 14.8
Brian Jones 5-t Completion % 66.7
Brian Jones 3-t Passing TDs 6
Brian Jones 7-t Passer Rating 109.7
Kenny Higgins 4-t Pass Rec. 8
Kenny Higgins 2 Yards/Catch 21.5
Kenny Higgins 1 Rec. Yards 172
Kenny Higgins 5-t Rec. TDs 3
Deon Giddens 1 Tackles 13
Terrell Adams 7 Tackles 7


FIRECATS
Player Rank Category Stat


TALE OF THE TAPE:
Statistical XPLORERS VIPERS
Category Rank Stat Rank Stat
Scoring Offense 6 47
Scoring Defense 1 25
Total Offense 3 324
Total Defense 5 242
Pass Offense 3 295
Pass Defense 4 212
Rushing Offense 6 29
Rushing Defense 7 30
Scoring (Kicking) 7-t 5
Pass Rating 7 109.7
Pass Def. Rating 5 109
Kickoff Returns 7 15.2
MFG Returns 2 26
Turnover Margin 5 E
Field Goals 3-t 0-0
PAT Kicking 6 5-7
Sacks By 7-t 0
Sacks Against 1-t 0
First Downs 4 18
Opp. First Downs 1-t 14
Penalties 8 67
Opp. Penalties 9 49

YOUR TEAM INJURY REPORT:
Pos. Name Injury Status






THIS WEEK'S QUOTES

Danton Barto
On season opening win...

"We played a little of sloppy. We kind of played the way you would expect a team that lost a lot of veterans to play. But as a coach I think it is always nice to win when you do not play your best."

On outscoring Tennessee Valley 21-0 in the 4th quarter...

"Their line was gassed in the fourth quarter while our guys were getting stronger and we were able to pressure their quarterback. That is the result of how hard we work in practice."

On the Arena Cup Banner being unveiled before the game with Florida on Saturday...

"It is going to be exciting. I think it will inspire our new guys and fire up our veterans for the game and for the rest of the season. When they see that banner up there, they will say ‘Hey, let's get another one'"

MILESTONES:

FORWARD MOTION: Next week, the Xplorers host the Tennessee Valley Vipers in a rematch of last week's season opener in Huntsville, AL. Game time is 7pm Saturday night at the DCC.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME AWARD
(selected by media)
Week Opp. Player
1 @ Tenn Val QB Brian Jones



IRONMAN OF THE GAME AWARD
(selected by media)
Week Opp. Player


DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME AWARD
(selected by media)
Week Opp. Player
1 @ Tenn Val DS Deon Giddens



RECENT ROSTER MOVES (most recent first):
Date Action Player
4/4 Reassigned FB/LB Chris Peavy
3/29 Assigned WR/DB Terrell Adams
3/29 Activated from OLE OS Kenny Higgins

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