Pirates Prepare for Sunday Docking in Moline
Peoria, IL (March 27, 2009) - The Peoria Pirates take a trip up Interstate 74 on Sunday to meet the Quad City Steamwheelers in the first of three meetings this season between the division arch rivals. The Steamwheelers lead the all-time af2 series 7-3 going into Sunday's 3:00 p.m. kickoff.
Three players from the 2008 squad return to the ship this summer. Lineman Chad Walker, fullback Jacob Schoonover and kicker Nathan Palkovic will take the field with a roster full of rookies for the 2009 campaign.
Lamar Hughes was the special teams powerhouse as a member of the af2 Daytona Beach ThunderBirds in 2008. Hughes led the team with 1,226 kick return yards and finished third on the team in points scored (60). He also put up some numbers as a receiver, picking up 448 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games played with the ThunderBirds.
Although a rookie in the af2, Dante Ridgeway has some professional experience under his belt. The Ball State graduate and All-American played in eight games with the New York Jets in 2005 and has been on four NFL practice squads, most recently with the New Orleans Saints.
The rest of the Peoria crew is new to the af2. In all, 15 players make up the rookie portion of the roster. Coach Bruce Cowdrey - marking his sixth season leading the Peoria Pirates - is eager to get underway. "We're excited to get the season started. It will be interesting to see how our rookie roster will stack up against the veteran squad of Quad City."
That Quad City group is led by third-year veteran quarterback, J.J. Raterink. Raterink lead the league with a 68.6 pass percentage and finished seventh with 3,956 passing yards. The 2007 season was only a warm-up for the following summer. Raterink went on to lead the league in 2008 with 4,442 passing yards and 97 touchdown passes. The former Wyoming star and Rhodes scholar was the force behind Quad City's last victory against the Pirates last season, putting up 335 yards and seven touchdown passes on June 14, 2007 in Peoria.
While a battle will be brewing on the field, a different kind of encounter is set to take place in the front offices of the two teams. The Pirates new local managing owner and arena football inventor, Jim Foster, was the founder and the managing owner of the Steamwheelers from 2000 to 2006. In fact, his team won the ArenaCup in each of the league's first two years of existence, posting an all-time Pro football record during the 2 season period of 37-1. Foster's move to the Peoria franchise has only added more intensity to the rivalry.
The rivalry began to heat up last week when Foster challenged the current managing owner of the Steamwheelers, Alan Millage, to an Ice Cream Challenge. The winner of the challenge will receive a half-gallon of free ice cream from the winning city's most historic and popular ice cream parlor, courtesy of the losing owner. Emo Ice Cream in Peoria and Whitey's Ice Cream in Moline will be up for grabs in Sunday's contest. "This will be a very interesting day for me," Foster said this past week. "What better way to cool down after a red-hot rivalry game than some of the best ice cream in the Midwest? One of us will gain a little weight with a big win."
Also up for grabs is the Ruler of the River traveling trophy which was originally established by Foster when the Pirates first entered the af2 in 2002. The award is given to the winner of each meeting between the Pirates and Steamwheelers. It will be making its long awaited comeback since the departure of the Pirates in 2005. The original award departed with the previous Pirates ownership when the team left the af2 after the 2004 season, so Foster has created a replacement version which will be put up tomorrow for the winner to covet and display until the next meeting in Peoria May 23.
The Pirates will head home Friday, April 10th to take on the Iowa Barnstormers. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The Peoria Pirates can be heard this year on 99.9 The Buzz, with Brendan Burke and John Venturi. More information on the team can be found at www.peoriapiratesaf2.com.
2009 Peoria Pirates Team Roster
No. Pos. First Last Ht. Wt. College
1 WR/DB Lamar Hughes 6'0" 175 Reedley College
2 WR/DB Joe Phinisee 5'10" 190 Walsh
4 WR/DB Dante Ridgeway 6'0" 197 Ball State
6 FB/LB Darron Boone 6'4" 267 Western Illinois
7 QB Luke Drone 6'2" 220 Illinois State
8 WR/DB Michael Phillips 5'11 205 Pittsburgh
9 FB/LB Howard Lingard 6'3" 258 Florida
10 K Nathan Palkovic 6'2" 210 Monmouth
11 WR/DB Miguel Scott 6'0" 193 Miami Killian Sr.
15 FB/LB Tim Robinson 6'2" 227 Alabama A&M
16 WR/DB Brian Allbrooks 5'9" 190 Temple
17 QB Kent Smith 6'5" 212 Central Michigan
21 WR/DB Jarmaul George 6'1" 190 Southern
24 FB/LB Jacob Schoonover 6'0" 236 Missouri Western
33 OL/DL Brad Kunz 6'7" 315 Miami (FL)
45 OL/DL Michael Lewis 6'2" 278 Adrian College
50 OL/DL Robbie Powell 6'4" 310 Purdue
59 OL/DL Marvin Campbell 6'3" 330 Harper JC
62 OL/DL Chad Walker 6'5" 331 Western Illinois
72 OL/DL Michael Champaign 6'7" 308 Winston - Salem St.
84 WR/DB Moses Harris 6'1" 205 Grambling State
96 OL/DL Antoine Young 6'2" 354 Michigan Tech
97 OL/DL William Stokes 6'4" 300 Waldorf College
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