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Memphis Xplorers game notes

June 1, 2006 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

Memphis Xplorers (7-2)
at Stockton Lightning (3-5)
Date: Saturday, June 3, 2006
Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. CDT
Site: Stockton Arena (10,117)
National Anthem:
Coin Toss:
Referee: Steve Strimling
Umpire: Torrance Crable
Head Linesman: Steve Hoslett
Line Judge: Mike Cuttone
Back Judge: Brad Glenn
Radio: 730 ESPN, Jim Erickson
TV: None
Series Record: First ever meeting
Last Meeting:
Streaks: Xplorers- 2 wins
Lightning- 1 loss
Danton Barto (41-32 reg season; 3-1 playoffs, 5th Season)
Richard Davis (3-5; 1st Season w/ Stockton; Overall: 42-26
reg season; 2-2 playoffs, 6th season in af2 overall)

THE STAKES: The Xplorers will be looking win back to back road games and pick up their 8th win of the season in their first ever meeting with the expansion Lightning. Memphis is in first place in the South Division by a half game over Florida. Stockton is 3-5 after falling to Everett last week and is in 4th place in the West Division, 4 games back of Spokane.

THE SERIES: This is the first ever meeting.

If Memphis defeats Stockton, it would ...
- Give Memphis its 14th win in their last 16 games.
- Give Memphis back to back road wins for the first time this season.
- Give Memphis a 3-0 all time record in games on the West Coast.
- Keep Memphis in first place in the South Division.
- Give Memphis a 45-45 all-time regular season record since entering af2 in 2001.

MEMPHIS (7-2, WON 2)
Date Opponent CT W/L Score
Sat, 4/1 @ Tenn Valley 7:30 W 47-25
Sat, 4/8 Florida 7:00 W 78-46
Sat, 4/15 Tenn Valley 7:00 W 56-21
Sat, 4/22 @ Florida 6:30 L 60-55
Fri, 4/28 Macon 7:00 W 62-26
Sat, 5/6 Manchester 7:00 W 58-52 OT
Sat, 5/13 @ South Georgia 6:30 L 48-41
Sat, 5/20 Bossier-Shreveport 7:00 W 67-32
Sun, 5/28 @ Amarillo 3:00 W 34-27
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 CDT Result Score
3/30 @ Spokane 7 p.m. L 40-41
4/8 @ Oklahoma City 5 p.m. L 50-60
4/22 @ Quad City 5:15 W 60-46
4/29 BAKERSFIELD 7:30 L 26-55
5/6 EVERETT 7:30 W 50-40
5/13 CENTRAL VALLEY 7:30 L 61-63
5/20 @ Bakersfield 7 p.m. W 49-42
5/27 @ Everett 7:30 L 41-40
6/3 MEMPHIS 7:30
6/10 @ Green Bay 5:30
6/17 EVERETT 7:30
7/8 @ Central Valley 7:30
7/15 SPOKANE 7:30
7/22 @ Bakersfield 7 p.m.

Danton Barto-Memphis
Barto is entering his fifth season as the Head Coach of the Memphis Xplorers. His career regular season record stands at 41-32 and 3-1 in the postseason. He is the winningest active coach in af2 since the start of the 2003 season. 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 their 7-year-old son Will in Bartlett, Tennessee.

Richard Davis-Stockton
Davis is in his first season as the Stockton Lightning Head Coach. Davis' head coaching experience amounts to five seasons in af2, spending 2000-03 with the Richmond Speed, where he also served as Vice President, and 2005 with the Albany Conquest, where he also served as Director of Player Personnel. His 41-23 all-time af2 coaching record places third in most career coaching wins in af2 history (entering this season), while he guided Richmond to playoff berths in 2001 and 2002 as Division Champions. His turnaround of the Speed may be the most noteworthy of his career, however - as he inherited a 2000 Richmond team that stood 0-5 into the season, and helped the Speed to an impressive 7-2 record over the last nine games, the best in-season turnaround in Arena Football history statistically. The following season, he led the Speed to a conference championship, falling by a mere four points to the Quad City Steamwheelers in the 2001 ArenaCup Championship. Davis' experience also branches into the Canadian Football League, NFL Europe, NCAA college football, NAIA college football, and junior college football. A graduate of University of Central Oklahoma with a B.A. degree in general studies, Davis makes his off-season home in Yukon, Oklahoma with his wife Judy, sons Justin and Chance, and daughter Rylee.


The Xplorers snapped a two game road losing streak with a late defensive stand and in the process snapped an Amarillo four game win streak. The Xplorers defense held after the Dusters cut it to seven with :22 remaining and recovered the ensuing onside kick. Terrell Adams tackled Amarillo WR John Roberson at the Memphis five yard line on the final play of the game to preserve the Xplorers' seventh win of the season. Kenny Higgins caught three scoring passes including what turned out to be the game winner in the third quarter. He finished with seven receptions for 108 yards. QB Brian Jones went 21 of 30 for 250 yards and four scores. Kevin Prentiss added the other TD reception. Jones also added a rushing score. Memphis jumped out 14-0 in the first quarter on a pair of Jones to Higgins connections and led 28-21 at halftime. Each team scored just six points a piece in the defensive second half. The big tide-turning play of the half occurred early as Xplorers' defensive specialist Jonathan Lyles intercepted Duster QB Steve Panella on the opening possession of the half. Memphis would go down and score to give them back the two TD cushion that was needed late in the game.

In his first game of the season on 5/20 versus Bossier, OS Kevin Prentiss surpassed the 4,000 yard mark in receiving for his career and became the tenth player in af2 history to surpass 4,000 yards and sits tenth on the all-time list. Here is how Prentiss ranks in other af2 career categories: Points-6th (648); Overall TD-tie 5th (108); Receptions- 12th (266); TD Receptions- 8th (94); Kickoff Return Yards-3rd (3232); Kickoff Return TD-1st (13).

The Xplorers have never lost a game played in California or the West Coast. The team is 2-0 in such games having won 72-51 at Bakersfield in 2004 and winning 69-57 at Central Valley last season.

Quarterback Brian Jones' 49 TD passes and only 3 INT give him a TD to INT ratio of 16.3. That means that he throws 16.3 TD passes for every 1 interception. That ratio is second in the league to Amarillo's Steve Panella who has 25 TD passes and just 1 INT.

This week's game features two of the winningest coaches in af2 history. The Xplorers' Danton Barto is 44-33 overall while the Lightning's Richard Davis is 44-26 all-time. Davis coached the Richmond Speed from 2000-2003 and the Albany Conquest last season before being named the first coach of the Lightning. The two veteran coaches are tied for 6th on the all-time af2 wins list. Barto's regular season record since the start of the 2003 season (36-21) is the best among active coaches.

The Xplorers and the Spokane Shock are the only teams with 7 wins through 9 weeks of play in af2. Three other teams (OKC, FLO, WB-S) have 6 victories.

Last weeks win over Amarillo moved the Xplorers to 1 game within the .500 mark in their all-time regular season record. The franchise is now 44-45 all-time since entering af2 in 2001. After going a combined 14-34 in their first 3 seasons, the Xplorers have gone 30-11 since the start of the 2004 season to get to within one win of .500. The franchise has never been .500 or better since its inception.

Stockton QB Josh Blankenship was originally assigned to the Xplorers this past off season after having a great season in 2005 with Tulsa. But, when Brian Jones became available again, the Xplorers traded Blankenship to Stockton for FB/LB Chris Peavy on 3/21. Peavy was later waived by Memphis on 4/4.

DS Jonathan Lyles suffered a broken ankle in his Xplorers debut on Sunday and was placed on Long Term IR on Wednesday. The injury occurred when he, teammate Deon Giddens and an Amarillo receiver went over the wall in the endzone and hit the concrete on the other side.

Xplorers WR/LB Kenny Higgins has had 6 100-yard receiving games. His season high was 172 yards in his af2 debut in the season opening win at Tennessee Valley. His 960 yards for the season put him #2 in the league. Higgins has also caught at least 1 TD in all but one game this season.

In their 9 games, the Xplorers have led at halftime in 8 of them. The team has also led entering the 4th quarter in all 9 games.

LEAGUE TOP 10s: Players from this week's match-up who rank among af2's statistical leaders:
Player Rank Category Stat
Brian Jones 1 Total Offense 2535
Brian Jones 1 Total Off. TDs 59
Steven Azar 6 Scoring (Kick) 62 pts
Brian Jones 3-t Rushing TDs 10
Brian Jones 2 Rushing Yds 167
Brian Jones 2 Pass Yds 2368
Brian Jones 3-t PassYards/Comp 13.4
Brian Jones 4 Completion % 65.6
Brian Jones 3-t Passing TDs 49
Brian Jones 1 Passer Rating 128.2
Brian Jones 1-t Pass Yds/Att 8.8
Kenny Higgins 9 Pass Rec. 59
Kenny Higgins 4 Yards/Catch 16.3
Kenny Higgins 2 Rec. Yards 960
Kenny Higgins 7 Rec. TDs 18
Steven Azar 1-t PAT ATT 67
Steven Azar 5 PAT % 83.6
Steven Azar 2 PAT Made 56
Terrell Adams 3 MFG Ret Yds 59.5
T. Quattlebaum 1-t MFG Ret TDs 1
Joseph Crear 8-t Sacks 4.5
Chris Eggleston 5-7 Sacks 5
Deon Giddens 3 Total Tackles 48.5
S. Cunningham 7-t Total Tackles 47
Deon Giddens 1 Passes Def. 30
S. Cunningham 7-t Passes Def. 15
Deon Giddens 2-t Fumbles Forced 3
Player Rank Category Stat
Atnas Maeko 2nd Rec. yds/game 120.0
Atnas Maeko 9th Scoring 14.0
Atnas Maeko 1st Yards per catch 21.2
J. Blankenship T-9 Pass TD's 35
Kenyatte Morgan 2nd MFG return yds 109
Kenyatte Morgan 6th Kick return yds 512
Kenyatte Morgan 8th Kick return avg 22.3
Aubrey Dorisme 8th Sacks 4.0
Marc Hickok 8th PAT Kicking Pct 79.4
Lyndell Hawkins T-6 Tackles for loss 5.0

Category Rank Stat Rank Stat
Scoring Offense 3 55.3 13 47.0
Touchdowns 1 71 14 55
Total Offense 3 290.8 18 234
Off avg./ play 1 7.7 13 5.9
Scoring defense 1 37.4 14-t 48.5
Points kicking 3-t 62 13-t 46
Total defense 21 279.6 18 274.8
Total offensive TD's 3-t 62 15 50
Rushing offense 6 25.3 14-t 18.4
Yards per rush 1 3.9 6-t 3.2
Rush yards 4 228 14-t 147
Pass efficiency 1 124.8 15 93.5
Rushing defense 23 39.8 11 21.4
Rushing TD's 11-t 13 14 12
Pass def. efficiency 5 91.0 19 111.1
Pass offense 4 265.4 17 215.6
Passing yards 2 2389 18 1725
Passing Defense 13 239.8 20 253.4
Passing Td's 4-t 49 11-t 38
Field Goals Made 16-t 2 16 2
First Downs 3 168 15 139
Opp. First Downs 22 173 20 165
Penalties 16 65.7 23 97.8
Sacks 4 19 9 14
Sacks against 9-t 9 13 12
Turnover Ratio 8 +4 16 -3
3rd dn conversions 9 44.7 19 39.6
4th dn conversions 2 66.7 5 57.1

Pos. Name Injury Status
OL/DL Phillip Perry Achilles On LTIR
DS Jonathan Lyles Ankle On LTIR

Score Allow
0-9 Points 0-0 0-0
10-19 Points 0-0 0-0
20-29 Points 0-0 4-0
30-39 Points 1-0 1-0
40-49 Points 1-1 1-1
50-59 Points 2-1 1-0
60-69 Points 2-0 0-1
70-79 Points 1-0 0-0
80-89 Points 0-0 0-0
90+ Points 0-0 0-0
One Point Games 0-0
2-7 Points Games 2-2
8-13 Point Games 0-0
14-20 Point Games 1-0
21-27 Point Games 0-0
28+ Point Games 4-0
Score First 5-1
Opponent Scores First 2-1
After a win 4-2
After a loss 2-0
Before a bye week 0-0
After a bye week 0-0
In Overtime 1-0
Out pass opponent 4-1
Out rush opponent 1-1
Opponent out pass 3-1
Opponent out rush 6-1
Even rush 0-0
More total 0ffense 5-0
Less total offense 2-2
Lead after 1st qtr 3-1
Trail after 1st qtr 2-1
Tied after 1st qtr 2-0
Lead at Half 7-1
Trail at Half 0-1
Tied at Half 0-0
Lead after 3rd qtr 7-2
Trail after 3rd qtr 0-0
Tied after 3rd qtr 0-0

April 4-1
May 3-1

Home 5-0
Away 2-2

Overall 44-45
Home 23-22
Away 21-23
April 14-11
May 12-12
June 11-11
July 7-11

Xplorers Head Coach Danton Barto

On getting a road win in a tough building....

"They had won four in a row and we went in there and got a hard fought victory. I was very happy. We made the plays we needed to get the win."

On the pass catching ability of WR Kenny Higgins...

"He again made a couple of incredible catches in Sunday's game and it seems that he makes a couple of those in every game."

On the broken ankle injury sustained by DS Jonathan Lyles, who was making his Xplorers debut....

"That was tough. He was really coming on and had made some good plays earlier in the game. I think he would've helped us at the DS position, but now we need a guy like Greg Golden to step up this week."

On this week's opponent, the Stockton Lightning...

"We are looking forward to playing out on the West Coast. I have never lost a game out there as a coach or as a player. They have a beautiful new arena and Coach Davis does a great job."

FORWARD MOTION: Following this week's game at Stockton, the Xplorers will be on the first of their two bye weeks this season. The other bye week will be the final week of the regular season. Following the bye, the Xplorers host Birmingham for the first of two meetings on 6/17 at 7pm at the DeSoto Civic Center.

(selected by media)
Week Opp. Player
1 @ Tenn Val QB Brian Jones
2 vs Florida QB Brian Jones
3 vs Tenn Val QB Brian Jones
5 vs Macon WR/DB Terrell Adams
6 vs Manchstr OS Kenny Higgins
8 vs Bossier QB Brian Jones
9 @ Amarillo WR Kenny Higgins

(selected by media)
Week Opp. Player
2 vs Florida WR/DB Terrance Quattlebaum
3 vs Ten Val WR/DB Terrell Adams
4 @ Florida WR/DB Terrance Quattlebaum
8 vs Bossier WR/DB Terrell Adams

(selected by media)
Week Opp. Player
1 @ Tenn Val DS Deon Giddens
2 vs Florida OL/DL Chris Eggleston
3 vs Tenn Val OL/DL Joseph Crear
4 @ Florida OL/DL Chris Eggleston
5 vs Macon OL/DL Phillip Perry
6 vs Manchstr DS Scott Cunningham
7 @ S Georgia OL/DL Chris Eggleston
8 vs Bossier FB/LB Dwan Wilson
9 @ Amarillo OL/DL Chris Eggleston

RECENT ROSTER MOVES (most recent first):
Date Action Player
5/31 Placed on LTIR WR/DB Jonathan Lyles
5/31 Assigned OL/DL Ernest Jones
5/26 Assigned QB Daniel Forrest
5/25 Traded to BOS QB Stan Hill
5/19 Assigned OL/DL Decorye Hampton
5/19 Placed on Susp. List WR/DB Remuise Johnson
5/18 Assigned OL/DL Brian Smith
5/18 Assigned FB/LB Tyus Jackson
5/18 Assigned WR/DB Jonathan Lyles
5/18 Activated from STIR OL/DL Maurice Troutman
5/18 Re-assigned FB/LB Jermaine Beale
5/18 Re-assigned WR/DB Daryon Brutley
5/18 Re-assigned WR/DB D. Dunbar
5/18 Re-assigned WR/LB Tommy Manus
5/4 Activated from OLE OL/DL Maurice Troutman
5/4 Assigned OL/DL Blake Lobel
5/4 Placed on LTIR OL/DL Phillip Perry
4/13 Assigned FB/LB Jermaine Beale
4/11 Re-assigned DL David Bamiro
4/4 Re-assigned FB/LB Chris Peavy

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