Riptide-Islanders Game Preview
With a win this week and a loss by Bakersfield, the Riptide can pull to within a half game of first place. Not bad for a team that started 0-3.
The Tide offense has been rolling, increasing their scoring output in each of their four games. QB Kane Claunch has played particularly well after being benched in Week 1 against Arkansas. Claunch returned the next week after backup Kevin Feterik went down with a hand injury, throwing five scores in relief against the Green Bay Blizzard. He didnt stop there either, throwing another five TD passes in each of the next two games as well, giving him 18 on the season fourth best in the league.
Helping Claunch out is a wide receiver corps that is among the best in the league. Six different receivers have caught touchdown passes for the Tide this season, led by offensive specialist Dwight Carter, who ranks in the top 10 in the league in receptions (29), receiving yards (406) and touchdown receptions (8). Also coming on strong is former Washington State standout Nakoa McElrath, who hauled in three TDs in his first-ever af2 game last week.
San Diego finally turned things around on the other side of the ball in their Week 4 win against Central Valley. The Tide held the Coyotes to just 34 points, the teams lowest opponent output of the season. San Diego also turned the ball over just once, after giving it up an average of four times per game in their first three contests. They also managed to recover five Central Valley turnovers, the first time theyve held an edge in takeaways all season.
The Tide will likely have a tougher time putting up those gaudy numbers against the first-place Islanders, however. Hawaiis offense averages 275 yards and 50.6 points per game and the Islanders boast a takeaway average of +3. How the defense holds up against Hawaii this week may be a truer test of how far theyve come.
On offense, Hawaii is led by former Utah standout Darrell Arceneaux, who ranks in the top 10 in af2 in virtually every passing category in addition to running for a league-best 81 yards this season. Stopping the multi-dimensional attack of Arceneaux will be a major focus for Coach Mouse Davis and the Riptide if they hope to snap a four-game losing streak to the defending division champs.
In addition to the important game being played on the field Saturday night, the Riptide will be looking to rack up another important win off the field in the battle against breast cancer. The 'Tide will be donating 50 percent of the ticket sale price on selected tickets to Saturday night's game to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. In addition, the Riptide will hold a special pre-game ceremony honoring breast cancer survivors and The Clever Cleaver Brothers will be on-hand before kick off, serving up a free bratwurst to fans. Riptide long-sleeve t-shirts will also be given to the first 3,000 fans in attendance, courtesy of Channel 4-San Diego.
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