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New York Dragons game notes

April 4, 2006 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - New York Dragons News Release

New York Dragons (6-4)
vs. Dallas Despereados (8-2)

Date: Sunday ▪ April 9, 2006
Kickoff: 1:00 PM (EST)
Site: Nassau Coliseum (11,985)

Radio: WLIE 540 AM: (play-by-play) Peter Schwartz and Wayne Morris (analyst)

Regular Season Series Record: 3-3
Regular Season Series Streak: +3
Last Regular Season Meeting:
New York 65, Dallas 57
American Airlines Arena ▪ Dallas, TX (15,919)

Coaches Record:
Dragons ▪ Weylan Harding (16-10, 2nd year)
Dallas ▪ Will McClay (23-30-1, 4th year)

Officials: Referee: Perry Havener (19), Umpire: Tom Laverty (75), Head Linesman: Rusty Baynes (71), Line Judge: David Meslow (26), Back Judge: Barry Anderson (39), Supervisor: Buddy Ward (31).

May 11, 2002 H 72-61
February 2, 2003 A 60-56
Feebruary 22, 2004 H 56-44
May 1, 2004* A 44-20
February 6, 2005* H 55-45
April 29, 2005* A 65-57

*Denotes Dragons win

The Dragons conclude a three game home stand in Week 11 when they take on the Dallas Desperados on Sunday, April 9th, at 1:00 PM in a division match-up. The Dragons have a current record of 6-4 this season and are 3-2 at home. Dallas currently leads the league with a record of 8-2 this season and are 5-0 on the road. This will be the seventh meeting between the two clubs and the series is tied 3-3. The game will take place at the Nassau Coliseum.

In Week Ten the Dragons continued at home and recorded another win when they defeated the Grand Rapids Rampage 48-24. At the half, the Dragons only led by five but increased that lead as their defense allowed only seven points in the second half. The Dragon's victory improved their series record against the Rampage to 4-5.

The Dragons go back on the road in Week 12 when the head to Columbus for a division match-up and the second meeting between the two clubs this season. The Dragons will be looking to redeem themselves with a victory after their loss to Columbus in Week Six this season. The Dragons lead the series 6-5 over the Destroyers.

Wednesday (4/5): 12:00-2:00 at Mitchel Field Practice Facility
Thursday (4/6): 12:00-2:00 at Mitchel Field Practice Facility
Friday (4/7): 12:00-2:00 at Mitchel Field Practice Facility
Saturday (4/8): 11:00 Walk Through at Mitchel Field Practice Facility

To confirm the Dragons' practice schedule/time or to receive directions, please contact Kerri Griesbeck at 516-501-6889.

- The team a 7-4 record for the season and a 4-2 record at home.
- The Dragons their 100th regular season victory and their 106th of all-time.
- The team their 44th victory since moving to Long Island in 2001.
- The Dragons a regular season and all-time record of 4-3 versus Dallas.

The Dragons continue at home this week to wrap up their longest home streak of the season when they take on the Dallas Desperados in a division match-up. The Dragons will look to improve their home record to 4-2 and their regular season record to 7-4 this week. Dallas currently is in first place in the league and therefore in the division so the Dragons will aim to close in on the Desperados

The Dragons are currently 0-2 in the Division after their loss to Philadelphia in Week Three and Columbus in Week Six. A victory this week vs. Dallas would mark the Dragons first division win of the 2006 season. It would also help the (division) second place Dragons close in on the first place Desperados. Last season, the Dragons won the Eastern Division for the third consecutive season (2003-2005). The Dragons swept all of their Eastern foes (Columbus, Dallas and Philadelphia) with a perfect 6-0 record in divisional play.

In his rookie year and first week back from the injured reserve, FB/LB Bruce Blue was named Ironman of the Game and AFL Ironman of the week for his Week Ten performance vs. the Grand Rapids Rampage. In the game, he recorded 2.0 tackles including a sack for a safety, and added two rushes for 28 yards and two touchdowns.

WR/DB Angel Estrada was activated onto the active roster in Week Nine after spending a month on the Injured Reserved with a shoulder injury. In his Week Ten return, Estrada was named defensive player of the game after recording 2.5 tackles and one interception for a gain of 18 yards. In Week 11, Estrada was named offensive player of the game with six receptions for 64 yards and two touchdowns, and one fumble recovery on offense.

In Week Ten vs. the Grand Rapids Rampage, DS Will Holder was named Defensive Player of the Game after recording 5.0 tackles and two interceptions for 23 yards. Holder was moved to DS in Week Seven vs. Austin after starting as a WR/DB this season.

In Week Five versus the Orlando Predators, QB Aaron Garcia suffered a fractured tibia in the third quarter. He underwent successful surgery and will be out for the season.

In Week Seven vs. the Austin Wranglers, quarterback Juston Wood suffered a dislocated kneecap in the first quarter, the second Dragons quarterback to be injured within a two week period following Garcia's injury in Week Five. Wood underwent successful surgery last Thursday and will be out for the rest of the season.

After Week Eight vs. Tampa Bay, Obert now holds a new Dragons record making 29 consecutive PAT kicks before ending his streak in Week Eight vs. Tampa Bay. In the league he is in the top 7 of all kickers in the last 3 seasons for most consecutive PAT kicks.

After Wood's injury in the first quarter of Week Seven, quarterback Nick Browder subbed in with the Dragons trailing 14-7. Browder completed 21 of 39 passes for 222 yards and five touchdowns and led the Dragons to a 59-56 victory over the Austin Wranglers. Browder will be continuing as starting quarterback for the season.

Browder returned to the Rampage in 2005 after a season with the expansion Philadelphia Soul, in which he set career marks in every passing category. He previously played for the Rampage in 2001 and 2003 behind the team's all-time leading passer Clint Dolezel. In 2004 with the Soul, he went 3-6 as the starting QB and set career highs in completions (145), attempts (244), yards (1,685) and touchdowns (31). In 2003 he completed 8-of-13 for 120 yards with one passing score and three rushing scores. In 2002 he went through training camp with the Rampage. He signed to the Indiana Firebirds practice squad on May 20, then was picked up by the Detroit Fury and had his best games when he tossed five scores and ran in another with 299 yards against the Rampage and was named Game MVP. He also ran in a 16-yard score. In 2001 he did not record any stats backing up Clint Dolezel, but saw action in six games on defense, registering 2.5 tackles. In the playoffs, he completed 3-of-5 passes for 26 yards vs. Chicago and rushed for a touchdown. In 2000 Browder played in five games with Buffalo where he totaled 122 yards and threw one touchdown along with one fumble recovery. In 1999, he was the starting quarterback for the Indoor Football League champion Green Bay Bombers.

Browder spent his college career at Valparaiso and ranked as the school's all-time total offense leader. He received All-Conference honors in 1995 and 1996 and was elected as an All-American in 1996. He graduated with a degree in sports management and earned his master's in athletic administration from Valparaiso and lettered in basketball, baseball, football and track in high school.

Garcia and Germaine also greatly added to the 24-combined touchdown total, breaking the old record of 23 combined touchdowns in a game. The four remaining touchdowns were scored by Utah's Kevin Moffett on a net recovery with :03 left in the second quarter, Utah's Justin Skaggs on a one-yard run with 2:48 left in the third quarter, Dragons OS Kevin Swayne with a 54-yard kickoff return with 1:53 remaining in the third quarter, followed by FB/LB Bruce Blue scoring on a one-yard run with :00 left in the third. The previous record of 23 touchdowns was set on April 13, 2003 when Arizona (12) faced Los Angles (11) as well as on April 3, 2004 when Los Angeles (12) faced Austin (11).

It was already known by most, but QB Aaron Garcia is now enshrined as one of the top-20 all-time great players in AFL history. During training camp, the league came out with their top-20 players from the first 20 years of the AFL. Garcia ranked 11th, one spot ahead of fellow former Iowa Barnstormer QB Kurt Warner. After Warner left the franchise, Garcia supplanted him as the franchise's star quarterback and the Dragons - or Barnstormers - have never looked back.

At Home 3-2 Tied At Half 1-0
On The Road 3-2 Behind At Half 1-3
Friday Games 2-1 Ahead After Three Quarters 4-1
Saturday Games 3-1 Tied After Three Quarters 1-0
February 3-2 Behind After Three Quarters 1-3
National Conference 3-2 Outcome 6 pts or Less 2-0
Eastern Division 0-2 Outcome 3 pts or Less 2-0
Southern Division 3-0 Outcome 7 pts or More 2-3
American Conference 3-1 Outcome 4 pts or More 0-0
Central Division 2-1 Overtime 0-0
Western Division 1-0 Plus Turnover Margin 5-0
Opponents Scored First 3-2 Even Turnover Margin 0-0
Ahead At Half 4-1 Minus Turnover Margin 1-4

Every week, Dragons head coach Weylan Harding lets the fans get inside his headset in an open question and answer forum. Here's this week's journal.

Obviously this is an important game for the division and the season in general, so how are you feeling as far as the confidence in your team as of now? After winning the last two games at home, do you feel an added sense of confidence going into Week 11?
WH: I am always confident in any team that we field. As long as we play to our capabilities and give a consistent effort then our odds are favorable. These last two games have put us into the thick of the hunt and made our goals more real. I find that a horse tends to run faster the closer you put the carrot to his nose.

It seemed that there were problems getting a rhythm down on offense this week. Do you feel the cause is due to Browder still establishing a comfort level with the offense or was this a fluke week that the offense will bounce back from?
WH: There are so many variables contributing to the success and failure of a given play that it is hard to pinpoint. Whether it is an issue of comfort at this point is debatable. It seemed that whatever was happening in that game was contagious when considering the combined fumbles and odd plays. I feel we, as a whole, will be more in tune coming into this next game. We have no choice.

Congratulations on another win coach. How are the Dragons looking for the ArenaBowl? Do you think about it or just try to take it one game at a time?
WH: Arenabowl? You have to crawl before you can walk. Our first task is to secure a playoff spot to make sure the opportunity for an Arenabowl is available. We are concentrated on the game at hand and not anything else. Our goal is to keep winning and let everything else sort itself out.

The defense has appeared to be the weaker of the two this season, however they seemed to play a vital role in this weeks performance. Have you noticed their progress and will it be enough against Dallas?
WH: We have taken our lumps early this season on defense. Whether our earlier performance was due to youth, injury, or inexperience are questions I have pondered. We have improved statisticaly in this last month. Our pass rush has shown some life along with more consistent play in the secondary. As far as Dallas is concerned, we are going to have to play the game and see how much we have improved.

Bruce Blue had a great game, along with Angel Estrada. They both brought something to the field that was missing while they were injured. Can you explain what you feel they add to the game that seemed to be lacking?
WH: Fresh legs and desire is what I saw. Those two have been out for a while and they missed it and it showed. Playing football is a privilege and sometimes you forget that until it is taken away from you through either injury or demotion. Those who are fortunate to realize that show it in the way they play. Passion for what you do is recognizable from any distance.

Sat, 1/28 L 57-28 vs. Nashville
Fri, 2/3 W 51-47 at Chicago
Sat, 2/11 W 84-81 at Utah
Sun, 2/19 L 75-59 at Philadelphia
Sun, 2/26 W 55-35 vs. Orlando
Fri, 3/3 L 65-54 vs. Columbus
Sun, 3/12 W 59-56 at Austin
Sat, 3/18 L 60-44 at Tampa Bay
Fri, 3/24 W 54-48 vs. Kansas City
Sat, 4/1 W 48-24 vs. Grand Rapids
Sun, 4/9 1:00 vs. Dallas
Fri, 4/14 7:00 at Columbus
Sat, 4/22 10:30 at Los Angeles
Sat, 4/29 7:00 vs. Philadelphia
Sat, 5/6 7:00 vs. Georgia
Sat, 5/13 8:00 at Dallas

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Dallas' FB/LB Joshua White played for the Dragons from 2004-2005 where he recorded 10 receptions for 131 yards and three touchdowns, and 62 rushes for the gain of 236 yards and 19 touchdowns. On defense, he recorded 50.0 tackles, one block and one interception for 33 yards.

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Although he's currently injured, here is where Dragons QB Aaron Garcia stacks up against other quarterbacks in the league. Garcia remains one of the league's top passers. He's first all-time with 757 touchdowns and is second in all-time passing yards with 36,074 and in completions with 3,062. His injury in Week Five vs. Orlando will prevent him from reaching 800 touchdowns this season.

The All-Arena QB became the first player to reach the 700-touchdown plateau last season on April 29 at Dallas.

The Dragons are led by one of the great defensive coaches in the AFL and he also happens to be the youngest in professional football. Weylan Harding enters the 2006 season at 34 years old -- 14 months and 13 days younger than the second-youngest head coach - Los Angeles' Ed Hodgekiss. However, Harding does not hold the distinction of being the youngest young in league history. That honor goes to Kevin Guy of the 2000 New Jersey Red Dogs, who was 27 years old.

Team Coach DOB Age
NYD Harding 1/5/1972 34
LAA Hodgkiss 10/23/1970 35
PHI Munsey 8/19/68 37

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The Dragons are the only team in the league to have their entire coaching staff comprised of former AFL players. In total, the Dragons' coaching staff has a combined 22 years of AFL playing experience and another combined 18-plus years as coaches.

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DaShane Dennis and Jamaal Cherry have switched positions from 2005 and will now line up at DS and OL/DL, respectively. Bruce Blue began training camp as a lineman and has since converted to FB/LB. Although Cherry was listed at FB/LB last season, he played primarily as a defensive lineman in his rookie season.

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OL/DL Marcus "Snowball" Owen: An All-Ironman selection in 2005, Owen will once again anchor the offensive and defensive line of the Dragon. Linemen sometimes go unnoticed, but watch out for Owen's contributions on the offensive side. Owen was named Ironman of the Game in Week Nine vs. Kansas City.

OS Kevin Swayne: When he remains healthy, Swayne is one of the best receivers in the league. He's a big target for Garcia and one of his favorites, too. In Week One, Swayne caught three of the four touchdowns thrown by Garcia.


QB Aaron Garcia is a New York Dragon through thick and thin. He is the only player to be a part of the team for each of its first five seasons on Long Island. Garcia made the move when the Iowa Barnstormers relocated to New York prior to the 2001 season. Garcia was traded to Iowa from New Jersey on June 2, 1998 for WR/DB Chris Spencer and OL/DL John Dixon. This is Garcia's 12th AFL season and ninth with the franchise.

OS Kevin Swayne has been the property of the Dragons for all six seasons, however he spent two seasons on the exempt list from 2002-2004. After a successful 2001 campaign, he was signed by the NFL's New York Jets and stayed there for three seasons. He returned to the Dragons mid-way through the 2004 season. Swayne also suited up for the Barnstormers from 1998-1999.

WR/LB Mike Horacek is the only other player to have played for both the Barnstormers and the Dragons. From 1997 to 2000, Horacek split time as a WR/DB and an OS with Iowa. He was the AFL's Offensive Player of the Year in 2000, his last with the team until he was selected in 2004 Dispersal Draft. The 2006 season is his second with the Dragons, but sixth with the franchise.

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The Dragons have 11 players on their roster from their final 2005 roster. QB Aaron Garcia is the longest tenured Dragon at eight seasons. The complete list includes: WR/LB Chris Anthony, OL/DL Jamaal Cherry, DS DaShane Dennis, WR/DB Angel Estrada, OL/DL Stacy Evans, WR/LB Mike Horacek, WR/DB Will Holder, OL/DL Joe Laudano, OL/DL Marcus "Snowball" Owen, OL/DL Steve Scifres and OS Kevin Swayne along with Garcia.

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The Dragons have 10 players on their roster who have played in af2 at one point in their career. The list includes: WR/LB Chris Anthony, WR/LB Maurice Brown, OL/DL Jamaal Cherry, WR/DB DaShane Dennis, OL/DL Jon Hall, OL/DL Joe Laudano, FB/LB Richard McCleskey, K Jesse Obert, DS Dahnel Singfield, OL/DL Andrew Tippins, OL/DL Paul White and QB Juston Wood.

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