Rage now ready for Shark fight Saturday
The time off was put to good use, but after three practice sessions this past week, the RiverCity Rage of the National Indoor Football League load up the gear on Friday and head south to battle the Tennessee Riversharks in a 7pm game on Saturday night at the Camp Jordan Arena. The Rage is currently 2-0 on the 2006 season, having beaten both the Katy Copperheads and the Cincinnati Marshals by a combined score of 145-67. The newly expanded Riversharks won at home in the first game in franchise history, defeating the Twin City Gators 33-24, before losing last weekend to the Montgomery Maulers 49-26.
Rage Head Football Coach Mike Wyatt says the bye week this past weekend was good for his team. "I usually don't like a bye this early in the season, but after blitzing two teams in two weeks, the rest was welcomed for one particular reason. The hardest part of our schedule is coming up in the next five weeks, so the past two weeks have afforded us a chance to focus on some early season mistakes, get a bit of rest, and get ready to gear up and head into this stretch of games with a bit of wind to our backs. Again, focus is the key for this football team, now and in the next 15 weeks to come. This down time was a bit of a stop gap on a long journey, and we used it well."
It's just two games into the 2006 NIFL season, but not much other than time off has been able to slow down the high powered, fast scoring RiverCity Rage offense. The stats are pretty impressive. Coach Wyatt's troops are:
First in passing offense, with 40 completions in 54 attempts, only one interception, and a percentage rate of 74.1%. That translates to 471 yards in two game, 12 touchdowns, and an average of 235.5 yards per game.
Second in scoring offense with 21 TD's, 19 XT pts, good for 145 points and an average of 72.5 ppg. At the top of the NIFL stats in total offense, with 104 plays, 645 yards, 20 touchdowns scored and an impressive average of some 327 yards per game.
The team has converted 13 of 16 Red-Zone chances thus far, good for 81% in the first two games of the new season.
The offensive line has been stellar thus far, allowing no sacks in the two victories.
And the team has not hurt itself with turnovers. The Rage is a +4 in the turnover margin, with 6 interceptions on the season, while giving up the football only once with an interception of it's own and once with a fumble. That's one stat that Wyatt hopes to keep in place as the season progresses. "That's the one element that usually separates the good teams from the great teams, the ability to hold on to the football, not hurt yourself with turnovers, not stop a scoring drive by giving up the ball. More than anything, I feel that played a huge part in every game this team lost last year, and keeping things on the plus side is one goal we'll work on week after week."
The Rage has been a force on defense as well, allowing only 9 touchdowns, 7 extra points and 2 field goals for a total of 67 points and an average of 33.5ppg. The team has recorded 7 sacks on the year.
Offensive leaders in the NIFL include Rage wide receiver Hurtis Chinn, who leads the league in scoring with 10 touchdowns and 60 points in two games.
Defensively, Rage linebacker Terrell Washington is tied for third in the NIFL in tackles with 11 solo and 13 assisted in 2006.
Wyatt looks for the game to be tough on Saturday, despite the fact the Riversharks are still feeling the reverb of life in the newly discovered fast paced NIFL. "Actually, I prefer to stay away from the term expansion' team," he stated Wednesday while watching game film of the Tennessee loss to Montgomery, "I keep reminding everyone that two such teams played last season for the NIFL title. Some teams hop on board quick, others, it'll take a game or two, or three, maybe even half a season before things jell. In Tennessee's case, it's dangerous because they've only played two games, looked good in one and average in the other. What team will show up for them on Saturday is the question, and that's what makes our job even harder. We'll need our A'game all the way."
The game can be heard on KJFF Radio AM 1400 and audio-streamed on line at www.kjff.com and www.ragefootball.com. The pre-game will begin at 6:45 and Kick-Off is slated for 7pm.
The RiverCity Rage is part of the 24 team National Indoor Football League, now in it's seventh season of play. Tickets for all 2006 Rage home games at Savvis Center can be purchased on-line at www.ticketmaster.com or at Savvis Center box office.
QUOTES FROM RIVER CITY RAGE HEAD FOOTBALL COACH MIKE WYATT
On the Tennessee Sandsharks, and what he's seen on film "They've won at home and lost on the road, and it's plain to see it's a team looking to make it's mark. It takes a while for players and coaches to get on the same page, and from a coaching standpoint, I know you're constantly tweaking things week after week to make it work. It's not something that happens overnight, but they're a good team in the early stages of the indoor game. It's our job to make sure they don't completely put it all together in one night against us."
On the Rage being favorites in the game on Saturday "Well, that's a position I could get used to again and again throughout the season. True, we go with two straight wins, and coming off a bye week, and there's no question we are the favorites in the Atlantic Conference, if not the entire NIFL, to win a title. But we have the hardest part of our schedule coming up and I see Fayetteville, Lakeland and Osceola as teams that really concern me, so it's important that we don't drop a game to someone we're not suppose to. We need to be up and ready for Saturday."
From Arizona Western Junior College to Western New Mexico University to professional indoor football, two teammates are making their presence known. Bruce Blue, FB/LB for the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League was named as Ironman of the Week in the AFL for his performance in the Dragons 48-24 win over Grand Rapids. Blue recorded 2 tackles including a sack for a safety and rushed for 28 yards on 2 carries for 2 touchdowns. His former teammate, Hurtis Chinn of the RiverCity Rage of the National Indoor Football League was the NIFL Offensive Player of the Week for his 6 touchdown performance in the Rage's 76-34 win over Cincinnati on March 26. The two players have roots with the RiverCity Rage as well. Blue and Chinn were signees of the Rage and played their rookie seasons in 2005 after having completed their careers at Western New Mexico.
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National Indoor Football League Stories from April 5, 2006
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