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New York Dragons game notes

April 26, 2006 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - New York Dragons News Release

New York Dragons (8-5)
vs. Philadelphia (7-6)

Date: Saturday ▪ April 29, 2006
Kickoff: 7:30 PM (EST)
Site: Nassau Coliseum (11,985)

Radio: WNYG 1440 AM: (play-by-play) Peter Schwartz and Wayne Morris (analyst)

Regular Season Series Record: (3-2)
Regular Season Series Streak: -1
Last Regular Season Meeting: February 19th, 2006
New York 59, Philadelphia 75
Nassau Coliseum ▪ Hempstead, NY (11,985)

Coaches Record:
Dragons ▪ Weylan Harding (17-11, 2nd year)
Soul ▪ Bret Munsey (7-6, 1st year)

Officials: Referee: Steve Pamon (68), Umpire: Wes Fritz (40), Head Linesman: Neil Brunner (56), Line Judge: R.G. Detillier (54), Back Judge: Tony Lombardo (33), Supervisor: Ed Manning.

April 24, 2004 A 58-60
May 30, 2004* H 69-54
March 6, 2005* A 61-54
April 24, 2005* H 51-37
February 19, 2006 A 75-59
* Denotes Dragons win

The Dragons return home in Week 14 when they take on division rival Philadelphia Soul in an important matchup. Week 13 allowed the Dragons to move ahead of the Soul who they previously trailed. The Dragons are 8-5 this season and are 3-3 at home. Philadelphia is currently 7-6 with a road record of 3-3. This will be the sixth meeting between the two clubs and the second meeting this season. In the first meting this season, the Soul defeated the Dragons 75-59 in Week Five. However, the Dragons lead the all-time series 3-2 over the Soul. The game will take place at the Nassau Coliseum.

In Week 13, the Dragons were victorious in a crucial game against the Los Angeles Avengers. After trailing by four at the half, the Dragons came back strong to defeat the Avengers 70-61. The win moved the Dragons up three spots in the playoff race, above Philadelphia, Georgia and Austin, bringing their season record to 8-5.

The Dragons remain home in Week 15 when they face Georgia. New york and Georgia have been neck and neck in the playoff race, making for another exciting game. Georgia currently has a record of 7-6 and are 4-3 on the road.

- The team a 9-5 record for the season and a 3-3 home record.
- The Dragons their 102nd regular season victory and their 108th of all-time.
- The team their 46th victory since moving to Long Island in 2001.
- The Dragons a regular season and all-time record of 4-2 versus Philadelphia.

The Dragons return home for Week 14 and Week 15 and they start their two-game home stand versus the Philadelphia soul in an important division matchup. Week 13's win for the Dragons and Loss for the Soul moved the Dragons ahead of the Soul in the playoff race. A win for Philadelphia would drop the Dragons back down below the Soul, as the tie breaker would be head-to-head results. The Dragons lost to the Soul earlier this season in Week Four with the final score of 75-59. The Dragons will be looking for a win here to extend their lead in the playoff race and to redeem themselves against the Soul.

The Dragons are currently 1-3 in the Division after Week 12's win over Columbus, and their previous losses to Philadelphia in Week Three, Columbus in Week Six and Dallas in Week Eleven. After the Dragons play the Soul this week they have one final division matchup remaining when they face Dallas in Week 16. 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. Dallas currently leads the division this year with an 11-2 record so far this season.

Quarterback Nick Browder received Offensive Player of the Game for Week 13's victory over the Los Angeles Avengers. In the game, Browder completed 29 of 41 passes for 346 yards and seven touchdowns.

WR/LB Mike Horacek recorded his seventh game this season with over 100 receiving yards with another great performance in Week 13's victory over the Los Angeles Avengers. In the game, he recorded 10 receptions for 134 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown with just three seconds left to play.

In Week 13 vs. Los Angeles, the AFL named three New York Dragons candidates for awards. WR/DB DaShane Dennis was a nominee for the AFL Ironman of the Week. Dennis recorded five receptions for 43 yards on offense. On defense he recorded 3.0 tackles and one interception for 41 yards and a touchdown. QB Nick Browder was a nominee for Offensive Player of the Week, completing 29 of 41 passes for 346 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also recorded one rush for a touchdown. OL/DL Andrew Tippins was a nominee for Defensive Player of the Week, recording 2.5 touchdowns, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery returned for 48 yards and a touchdown.

After battling with a hamstring injury for the majority of the season, WR/LB Chris Anthony returned in Week 12 and came up big winning the Ironman of the Game honors. In the final seconds of play, Anthony recorded an interception and returned the ball for 10 yards, eliminating columbus' chance of a comeback.

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. Blue is currently the youngest player in the AFL and therefore youngest to receive this award.

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 and will be out for the rest of the season.

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 has continued as starting quarterback since and the Dragons are 5-2 with Browder as quarterback.

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.

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

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.

How do you feel the Dragons will fair against Philly in Week 14 as opposed to Week 4 with ten weeks extra of practice time under their belt? Are you more confident about playing them at home?
WH: I feel at this point we are a more experienced team going in this time around. Philly is a good team and have had some impressive wins verses good opponents. The fact we are at home matters only if our fans create the same hostile environment we were exposed to in Philly. We are a more focused group as of today then 10 weeks ago. I feel this will be a game for the books.

After playing a team with a 3-9 record (who don't appear as a threat) and the game comes down to the final seconds, what goes through a coach's mind for how to handle the next three weeks who are apparent challenges for the Dragons?
WH: First of all lets not underrate that LA team. They are coming on and have taken some solid teams to the wire. They are the same group that beat Colorado at home. If you noticed this past weekend was tabbed upset weekend because of the number of teams that lost to teams they other wise should have beaten. Any team is capable of rising up on any given day. Though I am happy we won, I am more concerned more with the turnovers we had during the contest. This team must play mistake free ball going forward. We are treating the next three weeks as our playoffs.

Will Week 13's game being moved to Sunday continue to affect the team at all, being that you lost a day this week? Does traveling across the country (for your longest trip of the season) and coming home a day later present a concern for you going into this week against Philadelphia?
WH: My initial answer to your question is no. The body is an amazing machine that can adapt to most anything. We as a coaching staff will put in more hours to make sure that we provide the most effective game plan. We will probably
juggle practice times around to give the players a little smoother transition in such a short week. All in all I am not concerned because we do get to play at home verses having to travel.

What's the one biggest aspect of the game that has changed since you were a player?
WH: The overall quality of the athletes playing today is the biggest change. There are some guys doing some amazing things. We have some world class type athletes across the board more so now then when I was playing.

Which one of your Defensive Specialists reminds you most of yourself as a player?
WH: Angela Estrada reminds me more of myself than any of them. He has a real physical game like I had. Like him, I wanted to punish more than anything else. He throws his body around like a crash test dummy.

With playoff hopes very much alive after Philly and Georgia's loss this week, I have to congratulate you and the rest of your coaching staff on the job they have don't this season, especially handling all of the injuries. Do you handle the next few weeks any differently, focusing on where you want to be in the playoffs, or are you still looking at each game individually, taking it one game at a time?
WH: Our playoffs started weeks ago! We will continue to handle it the way we always have which is one game at a time. The players have done a remarkable job of buying into our philosophy of family. They have contributed no matter whose name is called. I cannot be any prouder because of the way they have fought.

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 L 46-28 vs. Dallas
Fri, 4/14 W 64-57 at Columbus
Sun, 4/23 W 70-61 at Los Angeles
Sat, 4/29 7:30 vs. Philadelphia
Sat, 5/6 7:00 vs. Georgia
Sat, 5/13 8:00 at Dallas

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Dragons QB Nick Browder spent a year on the Soul in 2004 where he completed 145 of 242 passes for 1685 yards and 31 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He also recorded 10 rushes for six yards and one touchdown.

Dragons WR/DB DaShane Dennis was also played for the soul in 2004 where he recorded 7.5 tackles and one reception for nine 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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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.


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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