Pinkney Wins Wolves Start at QB on Friday in Season Opener
MANCHESTER, NH-- The Manchester Wolves, hoping to build upon the success of last year when the team went all the way to the arenafootball2 league America Conference Championship, have named returning veteran James Pinkney as the starting quarterback to lead them into the 2009 season.
Pinkney, who came off the bench and went on a remarkable run last season before breaking his leg in the first round playoff upset, was locked in a spirited training camp battle with rookie Mike Potts from The College of William and Mary. While both quarterbacks impressed in camp with their strong arms, leadership, and work ethic, Head Coach Danton Barto decided on Monday that he would stick with his proven veteran.
Pinkney, who started 12 of 16 regular season games and completed 220 of 342 attempts with 59 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2008, will call the signals when the Wolves open their 2009 campaign against the Pioneers in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. As the Pioneers are the defending East Division Champions and are consistently one of the top teams in the af2, this first test is a very important division clash.
"Wilkes-Barre is a very tough game right out of the shoot. We've got our work cut out for us right and it's important to get off to a good start," said Barto. "This game is going to be like a prize fight. They'll take some jabs and we'll take some jabs. It's important to keep it close. We've got to answer the bell every round."
The Wolves enter the season with confidence as the coaching staff said that there was an excellent group of players in training camp and competition was fierce. While the decision about the final cuts was termed difficult, the coaches decided upon the final roster by the league deadline on Monday afternoon.
Wide receivers Steven Savoy and Emery Sammons, defensive backs TC Myers and Al Phillips, linebacker/fullback Dwan Wilson, defensive linemen Marvin Wright and David Tash, all join Pinkney as the returning starters from last year's team that fell short only one step of the ArenaCup. Defensive specialist Rob Green, who played for the Wolves in two previous seasons, has returned to the secondary after a stint in the af2 coaching ranks and kicker Chris Koepplin, who filled in for the injured Connor McCormick last year and holds the record for longest field goal (53) in franchise history, takes over the kicking duties.
Promising rookies on the roster include Deyon Williams, Brandon Isaac, Antwan Stewart, Aryan Barto (no relation to the coach), Howard Gilmore, and Martel Vanzant. Rory Thomas, Matt King, and Xavier Lawson-Kennedy are newcomers who have previous af2 experience and will lend size and muscle on the line.
The Wolves will practice this week and depart for Pennsylvania on Thursday morning in preparation for the season opener against the Pioneers at the Wachovia Center (7:30 PM ET kickoff).
While neither Barto nor Pioneers Head Coach Rich Ingold will don pads and a helmet, both will have a great deal to do with the outcome. Both are recognized throughout the league as two of the finest and most successful coaches, with Ingold recently being named as the best and Barto as the fourth best by their peers and the national media in a poll conducted for the af2's 10th anniversary season. Each will try to out fox the other while not reaching too deeply into the playbook since this is only the first of four match ups this season between these two division foes.
The Wolves home opener is on Saturday, April 18th on The Acting Loft Field at the Verizon Wireless Arena and in honor of the af2's 10th anniversary season, the Wolves are offering tickets for only $10 each and those tickets are good for the best seat available. The opponent that night is the Albany Firebirds and the game will be another important division contest.
The Wolves are offering a special money-back guarantee on season tickets purchased now through April 1st and are also selling partial season tickets, especially priced senior and youth packages, individual game tickets, group events, and fundraiser tickets now. For information, call 603-627-9653 (WOLF) or visit [email protected]
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