Wolves Open Season This Saturday At Mahoning Valley
MANCHESTER, NH-The Manchester Wolves open their fifth season on Saturday night against the Mahoning Valley Thunder with a new head coach and an almost entirely new team loaded with talent.
Head Coach Danton Barto, the af2 Coach of the Year in 2005 after his Memphis Xplorers won the ArenaCup, has assembled a roster of impact players who include two of the key starters on that title team.
Defensive back Dahnel Singfield, who was voted the af2 Defensive Player of the Year after that championship season and made the Arena Football league All-Rookie team with the New York Dragons in 2006, and lineman Joe Crear are expected to be veteran leaders on this year's edition of the Wolves.
Crear, who also played for Barto in Memphis in 2006, led that team with tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (7.5) and will start at defensive end in Manchester while Singfield will be at his customary position in the defensive backfield.
They will be joined on the defensive side by some of the newcomers who have turned heads during training camp. Dwan Wilson from Alcorn State will shore up the linebacker position and rookies Keenan Carter from the University of Virginia, who will start at noseguard, and Larry Brown from Oklahoma State, who plays defensive end, will join Crear as the starting front three.
The Wolves offense this season will be in the capable hands of quarterback Justin Rummell, who arrived in camp this week after being traded from the Spokane Shock. As the Shock's back-up last year, Rummell completed 69.2 per cent of his passes (45 of 65) in four games and threw for 13 touchdowns against one interception.
Two-year af2 veteran Bradley Chavez, who caught 95 passes for 1,094 and found his way into the end zone 20 times last season with Alabama, and rookie wide receivers Steven Savoy and Emery Sammons bring their speed and sure hands to this year's team. Savoy has looked particularly impressive in training camp.
When the Wolves run the ball, Rummell will hand off to 270 lb. fullback Dan Crozier, who brings a year of af2 experience to this young team.
"We've got playmakers on both sides of the ball," said Barto. "I'm very excited to get the season underway. We've put a lot of hard work into this, and now it's time to see just what kind of a team we have."
The Wolves, who had a bye last week in the opening week of the af2 season, open on the road against an East Division opponent with already one win in the column as the Thunder (1-0) beat another division foe, the Albany Conquest (0-1), 59-33 last week.
"Mahoning Vally is a good football team", said Barto. "In their first game they played with some mistakes early on, but then they regrouped and came out in the second half and really put it on Albany."
Saturday night's game is only the third meeting between Manchester and Mahoning Valley and the Wolves have won both of the first two, at home and on the road. The Wolves look to extend their lead to 3-0 in the series while giving Barto (49-37) his first notch in the win column with Manchester.
Wolves fans can follow the team this season over the airwaves and on the internet by tuning in to WFEA 1370 AM or clicking on www.nifty.com. Nifty.com offers free coverage of the Wolves games this season and all fans need to do to watch online is register for a login and password. Kickoff against the Thunder is at 7:05 p.m.
The Wolves, who also play on the road next Friday, April 11th against Green Bay (0-1), will return to Manchester for their season opener on Brady Sullivan Field at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday, April 18th to host Albany. Kickoff for the home opener is 7:30 p.m.
In the Wolves first home game of this season, which is the Year of the Fan, the first 750 children to attend will receive free spring passes to Canobie Lake Park and there will also be a Delta Dental toothbrush giveaway.
Season ticket packages, including $25 season tickets for children 12 and under, and individual game seats are still available. Contact the Wolves at 603-627-9653 (WOLF) or [email protected] for more information.
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