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Week 18: Friday Night Matchup

July 24, 2008 - arenafootball2 (af2) News Release

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PIONEERS (13-2) AT ALBANY CONQUEST (5-10)

FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2008 - Times Union Center (6,276) 7:00 P.M. ET

Week 18 continues on Friday night when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers travel to Albany to tackle the Conquest, their East Division rivals. This will be the 21st head-to-head meeting between the two clubs since the teams began play in the af2 in 2002. The Pioneers lead the series overall, 13-7, and is 2-0 against the Conquest in 2008. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton enters the final week of the regular season ranked No. 2 overall. The team, winners of six straight games, has also clinched the No. 1 seed in the American Conference. Their most recent result was a 62-33 home win against Mahoning Valley. The victory ran Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's current home win streak to 20 games and counting. The streak, which dates back to 2006, is the second longest in league history. The Pioneers have been impressive on both sides of the ball in 2008. The squad ranks No. 1 overall in scoring offense (64.5 ppg) and scoring defense (37.8 ppg). Leading the offense is veteran trigger man RYAN VENA. Vena, one of the league's top quarterbacks, ranks No. 1 in the af2 in completion percentage (69.3) and is second in touchdown passes (83) and passer rating (124.4). Vena has a trio of talented receivers at his disposal, J.J. OUTLAW, LARRY KENDRICK and RICH MUSINSKI. Outlaw leads the group with team-highs in receptions (96), receiving yards (1,245) and receiving TDs (30). Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's defense has playmakers up front and in the secondary. The rushers up front are two of the best in the af2, ISAAC HILTON and JUSTIN PARRISH. Hilton ranks third in sacks with 15.5 and Parrish ranks sixth with 14. Rookie DB MICHEAUX ROBINSON is one of the league's top cover men. Robinson is tied for second in the league in interceptions (14) and is second in passes defended (37). He also leads the af2 in interception return TDs with four. The Conquest, coming off a 70-49 home loss to Manchester, finish up their fifth straight losing season on Friday. Last week DAN DELUISE got his first start at quarterback for Albany. His first significant action was a struggle for most of the evening as the rookie completed just 21-of-44 passes (47.7 percent) for 272 yards with five TDs and two INTs. He was also sacked four times against a tough Wolves defense but still managed two rushing TDs. His main target was rookie WR CHRIS BOCAGE who caught 11 passes for 136 yards with three scores. DB ROLAND MINOR had 4.5 tackles and one interception to stand out individually on defense. Overall, Albany's troubles in 2008 may be mainly traced to a fragile defense and a challenged offensive line. Only Oklahoma City has allowed more points than the Conquest (831 - 55.4 per game) while the team trails only Stockton in sacks allowed (54 - 3.6 per game). If the Pioneers come out focused, expect the team to finish strong and enter the playoffs next week on a high note.

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