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Memphis Xplorers game notes

July 20, 2006 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

Memphis Xplorers (10-5) at
Birmingham Steeldogs (7-7)
Date: Saturday, July 22, 2006
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CDT
Site: Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center (16,000)
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 / Chad Lindsey
Series Record: Steeldogs lead series 4-2
Last Meeting: 43-42 BIR @ MEM 6/17/06
Streaks: Xplorers- 1 win // Steeldogs- 1 loss
Danton Barto (44-35 reg season; 3-1 playoffs, 5th Season)
Ron Selesky (26-20 reg season; 1-1 playoffs, 3rd season,
1st w/Birmingham)

THE STAKES: The Xplorers close out the regular season trying to avenge an earlier heartbreaking loss to the Steeldogs on June 17. While the Xplorers have clinched a playoff berth, the Steeldogs are in a fight for a Wild Card spot. Memphis will have a bye next week in the final week of the af2 regular season.

THE SERIES: The Xplorers had a two game winning streak versus the Steeldogs snapped with the last play loss at the DCC on June 17. Brimingham leads the series 4-2 and are 2-1 against Memphis in Birmingham.

If Memphis defeats Birmingham, it would ...
- Give Memphis its 11th win of season, 2nd highest total for an Xplorers team.
- Give Memphis a 4-4 road record this season.
- Snap Memphis' 2 game road losing streak
- Give Memphis coach Danton Barto his 48th career win.
- Give Memphis a 48-48 all-time regular season record.

MEMPHIS (10-5, WON 1)
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 BOS-SHREVEPORT 7:00 W 67-32
Sun, 5/28 @ Amarillo 3:00 W 34-27
Sat, 6/3 @ Stockton 9:00 W 73-54
Sat, 6/17 BIRMINGHAM 7:00 L 43-42
Sat, 6/24 SOUTH GEORGIA 7:00 W 81-53
Fri, 6/30 @ Macon 6:30 L 38-33
Sat, 7/8 @ Louisville 6:00 L 63-55
Sat, 7/15 AMARILLO 7:00 W 75-15
Sat, 7/22 @ Birmingham 7:00

Date Opponent CDT Result Score
4/8 EVERETT 7:00 W 41-36
4/14 RIO GRANDE 7:00 L 43-44
4/21 @ Louisville 6:30 L 40-62
4/29 @ South Georgia 6:30 W 40-34
5/5 LOUISVILLE 7:00 W 63-60
5/13 @ Florida 6:30 L 44-62
5/20 @ Tennessee Valley 7:30 L 17-21
5/27 MACON 7:00 W 71-30
6/3 @ Everett 9:30 L 34-40
6/10 SOUTH GEORGIA 7:00 W 42-35
6/17 @ Memphis 7:00 W 43-42
6/24 FLORIDA 7:00 L 60-27
7/8 @ Rio Grande 7:00 W 84-46
7/15 @ Macon 7:00 L 52-47
7/22 MEMPHIS 7:00

Danton Barto-Memphis
Barto is entering his fifth season as the Head Coach of the Memphis Xplorers. His career regular season record entering the season 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 coordinator 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 played for the Tigers from 1990-1993. 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. In the CFL, he played for the Shreveport Pirates, Memphis Mad Dogs, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Ottawa Rough Riders. In the AFL, he played for the Connecticut Coyotes in 1996. Coach Barto currently resides with his wife Rachel and his 7-year-old son Will in Bartlett, Tennessee. He is a native of Niceville, FL.

Ron Selesky-Birmingham
Selesky is an Arena Football League and af2 coaching veteran. He served as the defensive coordinator for the Columbus Destroyers in 2005 under Head Coach Chris Spielman. Prior to that, Selesky spent the 2004 season on the sidelines for the Carolina Cobras, beginning the year as the team's defensive coordinator before finishing the season as the head coach. Selesky earned af2 Coach of the Year honors in 2002, guiding the expansion Albany Conquest to a regular-season mark of 13-3 and a Northeast Division title. He spent the 2001 season as the head coach of the Louisville Fire. Selesky spent the 2003 season as head coach and director of football operations for the Buffalo Destroyers, prior to the team relocating to Columbus, Ohio. He also served as the director of player personnel and assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Storm from 1997 to 1999. With the Storm, his teams compiled a 31-11 regular season record and earned a berth in the 1998 ArenaBowl. Born in Brunswick, N.J., Selesky played college football at North Central College (Division III) in Naperville, Ill., where he was a four-year starter at left offensive tackle. Following his collegiate career, Selesky went on to play for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings in 1987 and attended NFL camps with the San Diego Chargers (1988), Miami Dolphins (1990) and Detroit Lions (1992). He also spent time as a scout with ProQuest Management from 1995-1997.

BIR 43 MEM 42 @ MEMPHIS 6/17/06
Birmingham kicker Alex Walls kicked a 25 yard field goal on the final play of the game to the send the Birmingham Steeldogs to the upset win. The Steeldogs rallied from a 42-33 deficit in the final five minutes to improve to 6-5. The Xplorers fell to 8-3 and had their nine game home winning streak snapped. Memphis QB Brian Jones passed for 278 yards and five touchdowns, but he also threw an uncharacteristic three interceptions, including one in the final minute that set up the winning kick for the Steeldogs. Memphis took a 42-32 lead with 5:20 remaining in the game on a Jones to Kenny Higgins touchdown toss. The Steeldogs followed with a Robert Kent three yard run with :55 left to cut the lead to two. Two plays after Memphis got possession on the ensuing onside kick attempt that the Steeldogs touched prior to the ball going ten yards, Bradly Chavez picked off a Jones pass and returned it 30 yards to the Memphis 5. Five plays later Walls, who finished with three field goals, booted the game winner through the uprights. Birmingham QB Ryan Hawk was 25 for 37 passing for 231 yards and one touchdown. The Steeldogs did not turn the ball over while the Xplorers had the three interceptions. Steeldog receiver Allynson Sheffield had a big night with 14 catches for 148 yards and one TD.

The Xplorers clinched a third straight trip to the af2 playoffs with the win and also snapped a two game losing streak and extended the Dusters' losing skid to seven games. QB Brian Jones, who returned after missing last week due to a foot injury, played the first two-and-a-half quarters and did not show any ill-effects from the injury as he was 11 of 14 passing for 216 yards and no interceptions. Of his 11 completions, six went for scores. Daniel Forrest mopped up and went five of eight for 65 yards and a score. The Memphis receiving corps was lead by Kevin Prentiss. Prentiss caught six balls for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Kenny Higgins and Greg Golden also caught a pair of touchdowns each with Deon Giddens grabbing the other. Prentiss also put himself on top of the heap among af2 kick returners in the game. On his third return, he passed former Bossier Battlewing Shadrick MacAfee as the all time kick return yardage leader in af2 history. Prentiss is now at 3594 yards for his career. After a close first quarter ended 14-6 in favor of Memphis, the Xplorers outscored the Dusters 26-7 in the second quarter and 35-2 in the second half. The only Amarillo points in the second half came on a blocked PAT return that counted for two points. The Xplorers defense played a physical game, forcing three interceptions, two by Scott Cunningham, and recovering two fumbles, including one by OL/DL Alex Bell for a touchdown, and picking up two sacks, including one for a safety by Maurice Troutman. The 60 point margin of victory was the second largest in Xplorers history, second only to the team's 62 point win (80-18) over Mobile in 2002.

The win over the Dusters clinched a playoff spot for the third straight season for the Xplorers. The team will shore up a home playoff game with a win over Birmingham or a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton loss at Quad City. The Xplorers could also clinch a home playoff game with a Green Bay loss, but the Blizzard are on the bye this week.

The 60 point win over Amarillo last week was the second largest margin of victory by an Xplorers team. The Xplorers defeated the Mobile Wizards at Mobile by 62 (80-18) on 5/4/2002. It was the largest margin of victory for the Xplorers at home. The game was also the third this season that Memphis has scored more than 70 points. This is the first season that an Xplorers team has scored more than 70 points in 3 regular season games. They had done it twice last season.

The 15 points scored by Amarillo are the fewest by an Xplorers opponent since they held Arkansas to 13 points in a Week 3 54-13 win on 4/15 last season. The Xplorers have held teams in the teens a total of 5 times in their history.

The Xplorers finished with a 7-1 regular season home record, tying last season for a franchise best.

Nate Grace's blocked field goal in the first quarter versus Amarillo was his fourth career block and the 12th this season for the Xplorers. The 12 blocks tie the Xplorers for the af2 single season record. The Richmond Speed had 12 blocked kicks in the 2002 season. OL/DL Chris Eggleston's 5 blocked kicks ties him for second on the af2 all-time single season list. He is 3 shy of tying the record held by Joe Massey who blocked 8 kicks last season for the Amarillo Dusters.

With 77 kickoff return yards, Kevin Prentiss is now the all-time kick return yardage leader in af2. Prentiss, now with 3594 yards, passed former Bossier Battlewing Shadrick McAfee's 3572. Pretniss is already #1 in kickoff return touchdowns with 14. His career average is 25.7 yards a return.

Prentiss, who joined the af2 700 points scored club in the game at Louisville on 7/8, moved up this past week to 8th on the all-time af2 receptions list with 314; up to 4th on the receiving yards list with 4722 and up to 5th on the TD reception list with 106. He is also currently 5th on the points scored list (726); 4th in most overall touchdowns (121).

The Xplorers were assigned OL/DL Nate Grace and WR/DB Adrian Burnette on Thursday, 7/13. Both players played for the Xplorers in previous seasons and played last week. Grace, 6-foot-6, 345 pounds, played in a total of 29 games, including playoffs, for the Xplorers in 2004 and 2005. In his 25 regular season games, he totaled 24.5 tackles and six sacks. The 27 year old former Southern Mississippi Golden Eagle was in training camp with the Las Vegas Gladiators of the AFL to start this year, but was waived before the season. Burnette was an Xplorer in 2003 and 2004. He played in 13 games in 2003, finishing first on the team with 19 touchdown receptions, second with 66 receptions and third with 680 receiving yards. After seeing action in just two games with Memphis in 2004, the former Tulane star played with the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings in 2005 and the first half of this season. Last season, the 5-foot-10, 195 pound Burnette was the second leading Battle Wings receiver with 62 receptions for 775 yards and nine touchdowns. This season, he played in five games for the 'Wings, catching 20 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown. At Tulane, Burnette holds the single season touchdown reception record with 14 in his senior season of 2000. His 79 receptions in 1999 are second all-time and his 170 career receptions are sixth on the Greenwave's all-time list.

(2-4 / 1-2 Home / 1-2 Away)
7/21/01 67-39 L @ Birmingham
6/14/03 51-36 L @ Memphis
4/10/04 44-27 L @ Birmingham
4/23/05 60-24 W @ Birmingham
6/18/05 62-32 W @ Memphis
6/17/06 43-42 L @ Memphis

LEAGUE TOP 10s: Players from this week's match-up who rank among af2's statistical leaders:
Player Rank Category Stat
Brian Jones 3 Total Offense 277.7
Brian Jones 3-t Total Off. TDs 91
Steven Azar 8 Scoring (Kick) 6.6
Kevin Prentiss 1 All Purpose/game 187.1
Brian Jones 4 Rushing TDs 15
Brian Jones 4 Rushing Yds 245
Brian Jones 2 Yards/Rush 4.8
Brian Jones 5 Pass Yds 3643
Brian Jones 3 PassYards/Comp 13.3
Brian Jones 3 Completion % 68.6%
Brian Jones 5 Passing TDs 76
Brian Jones 2 Passer Rating 127.5
Brian Jones 2 Pass Yds/Att 9.2
Kenny Higgins 5-t Yards/Catch 15.4
Kenny Higgins 4 Rec. Yards 1371
Kenny Higgins 10 Rec. TDs 27
Steven Azar 1 PAT ATT 113
Steven Azar 8 PAT % 82.3%
Steven Azar 2 PAT Made 93
T. Quattlebaum 10 MFG Ret Yards 64
T. Quattlebaum 1-t MFG Ret TDs 1
Deon Giddens 1-t MFG Ret TDs 1
Deon Giddens 2 Total Tackles 94.5
S. Cunningham 7 Total Tackles 79
Deon Giddens 1 Passes Def. 40
S. Cunningham 5 Passes Def. 28
Joseph Crear 8 Sacks 7.5
Chris Eggleston 9-t Sacks 7.0
T. Quattlebaum 1-t Fumble Rec. 4
Joseph Crear 7 Tackles for Loss 9.5
Chris Eggleston 1 Fumbles Forced 6
Player Rank Category Stat
Alex Walls t-3rd Field Goals 10-26
Alex Walls 6th Field Goals Attpt 26
Alex Walls 6th Field Goal Pct. 38.5%
Alex Walls t-2nd Field Goals Made 10
Theo Sanders 8th Rushing 42-157
Theo Sanders 10th Rush Attempts 42
Theo Sanders 8th Yards Per Rush 3.7
Theo Sanders 8th Rush Yards 157
Robert Kent t-5th Rushing TDs 12
Robert Kent 10th Yards Per Rush 3.6
Robert Kent 10th Rush Yards 144
Kerry Wright 7th Yards Per Catch 15.1
Kerry Wright 10th Receive Yds/Gm 100.1
Kerry Wright 8th MFG Returns 4-63
Bobby Keyes 5th Interceptions 8-38
Bobby Keyes 3rd INT Returns 8-38-0

Category Rank Stat Rank Stat
Scoring Offense 4 57.1 15 45.2
Touchdowns 1 124 16 89
Total Offense 3 291.8 11 270.9
Off avg./ play 1 7.9 16-t 5.7
Scoring defense 1 40.2 5 44.6
Points kicking 6 99 10-t 89
Total defense 14 269.0 9 254.7
Total offensive TDs 3 111 16-t 83
Rushing offense 8 26.9 3 34.8
Yards per rush 1 4.1 7 3.2
Pass efficiency 2 123.7 16 92.7
Rushing defense 23 39.0 13-t 23.1
Rushing TD's 7 28 4-t 31
Pass def. efficiency 3 89.3 13 101.6
Pass offense 4 264.9 14 236.1
Pass Defense 6 230.0 7 231.6
Passing Td's 6 83 19 52
Field Goals Made 22-t 2-9 2-t 10-26
PAT Kicking 6 82.3% 13 76.6%
Turnover Ratio 7-t +5 5 +10
First Downs 3 284 12-t 246
Opp. First Downs 22 287 5 231
3rd dn conversions 7 49.2% 18 42.1%
4th dn conversions 2 63.2% 17 36.4
Sacks 4 28 10 20
Sacks against 7 15 13 20
Penalties 17 64.5 12 55.7

Pos. Name Injury Status
OL/DL Phillip Perry Achilles On LTIR
DS Jonathan Lyles Ankle On LTIR
WR/DB Terrell Adams Knee On LTIR

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

April 4-1
May 3-1
June 2-2
July 1-1

Home 7-1
Away 3-4

Overall 47-48
Home 25-23
Away 22-25
April 14-11
May 12-12
June 13-13
July 8-12

Xplorers Head Coach Danton Barto

On the affect of recent assignments Nate Grace and Adrian Burnette...

"Those two guys have brought some of our swagger back. They helped make practice this past week more intense and more physical."

On the play of DS Scott Cunningham...

"That's the Scott Cunningham that we all thought we'd see all year long."

On Brian Jones coming back from injury...

"I thought he looked very sharp. We had to protect him because the injury reduced his escapability, and we were able to do that."

On the rematch this week with Birmingham...

"This is a big game. We can clinch a home playoff game with a win and they need to win to keep their hopes alive. Plus, we want to avenge the loss they handed us at home last month."

FORWARD MOTION: The Xplorers spend Week 18 of the af2 regualr season with bye as they prepare for the playoffs. It is the third straight season that the Xplorers have qualified for the playoffs

(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
10 @ Stockton QB Brian Jones
12 vs S. Georgia QB Brian Jones
16 vs Amarillo OS Kevin Prentiss

(selected by media)
Week Opp. Player
2 vs Florida WR/LB Terrance Quattlebaum
3 vs Ten Val WR/DB Terrell Adams
4 @ Florida WR/LB Terrance Quattlebaum
8 vs Bossier WR/DB Terrell Adams
12 vs S. Georgia WR/DB Deon Giddens
15 @ Louisville WR/LB Terrance Quattlebaum
16 vs Amarillo WR/DB Deon Giddens

(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
10 @ Stockton DS Deon Giddens
12 vs S. Georgia OL/DL Joseph Crear
15 @ Louisville OL/DL Joseph Crear
16 vs Amarillo DS Scott Cunningham

RECENT ROSTER MOVES (most recent first):
Date Action Player
7/13 Waived OL/DL Blake Lobel
7/13 Assigned OL/DL Nate Grace
7/13 Assigned WR/DB Adrian Burnette
7/13 Waived OL/DL Earnest Jones
7/13 Waived OL/DL Robert Mackey
6/29 Assigned OL/DL Robert Mackey
6/22 Assigned WR/DB Sidney Haugabrook
6/22 Waived OL/DL Brian Smith
6/21 Assigned OL/DL Alex Bell
6/21 Placed on LTIR WR/DB Terrell Adams
6/12 Waived OL/DL Decorye Hampton
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

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