Wolves Clinch Playoff Spot
MANCHESTER, NH-- For the fifth consecutive season, the Manchester Wolves are headed to the American Conference playoffs in the arenafootball2 league.
Although the Wolves (7-8) were upset at home last Friday night by the Mahoning Valley Thunder (2-13) and missed an opportunity that night to clinch one of the wildcard berths in the conference with one more game left to play in the regular season, all three of the other teams mathematically still alive for the final two spots also lost their games on Saturday night. That put the Wolves into the playoff picture.
"Making it to the playoffs is what you try to accomplish at the start of every season and what you work for as a team all year,' said Wolves Head Coach Danton Barto. "I'd like us to be playing better football right now, but if you look at the history of arena football, you'll know that all that matters is that you get to the dance because in this game everybody who is in the playoffs has a chance to win a championship if they are playing well."
While it is conceivable that the Florida Firecats (6-9) and Albany Firebirds (6-9) might finish the regular season with a record identical to that of the Wolves, according to the tie-breaker system in the af2, Manchester will participate in the post season. Contingent upon the outcome of their game against the East Division Champion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers (12-3) at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday night as well as the other games played by the two remaining contenders this weekend, the Wolves will be seeded either seventh or eighth. The Firebirds and Firecats are the two other teams fighting for the last of the eight wild card spots.
The Pioneers have already insured a first-round home game by virtue of winning the division, but they could also nail down the No. 1 seed in the conference and consequently have home field advantage throughout the American Conference playoffs with a victory over the Wolves on The Acting Loft Field at the Verizon this week.
The other division champions are the Tennessee Valley Vipers (11-4) and the Iowa Barnstormers (11-4) and both earned the right for a home game in the first round of the playoffs and to be seeded in the top three. As the eighth seed, the Wolves would have to play the overall top seed on the road and as the seventh, they would travel to take on the second seed on the weekend of July 31st and August 1st.
Last season, which was Barto's first as the Wolves head coach, Manchester entered the post season as the seventh seed but made it all the way to the American Conference Championship game before falling to the Vipers on the road and just missing the chance to play for the ArenaCup the following week.
"The best thing now is that we'll be entering a new season where everybody in the playoffs will be 0-0," said Barto. "There is more parity in the af2 than ever before and this year any team can beat any other team on any given night."
The final seedings, playoff bracket and schedule for first round playoff games will be announced at the completion of the regular af2 season this weekend.
Tickets for Friday night's important game against the Pioneers still remain and may be purchased by clicking on [email protected] or calling 603-627-9653 (WOLF).
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