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Xplorers back at home and back on top

June 15, 2006 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

SOUTHAVEN, MS --- The Memphis Xplorers (8-2) return to the DeSoto Civic Center turf for the first time in almost a month this Saturday night when they host the Birmingham Steeldogs (5-5) at 7 p.m. The Xplorers are coming off of the bye week after playing back-to-back road games at Amarillo on May 27 and at Stockton on June 3. The team's last home game was a 67-32 win over Bossier-Shreveport on May 20.

"We needed the bye week," Xplorers Head Coach Danton Barto said. "We were pretty worn down mentally and physically, but after returning this week, the guys seem rejuvenated and refreshed. We should be ready to go."

The first place Xplorers have also reclaimed the number ranking in the weekly af2 coaches poll. Memphis was number one for the first three weeks of the season before falling to Florida in Week Four. The Xplorers garnered 16 of a possible 23 first place votes to unseat Spokane as the top team.

The Xplorers have won three in a row overall and nine straight at home dating back to last season entering their first of two games with fellow division member Birmingham.

"We are undefeated at home this season and are a confident team at home," Head Coach Danton Barto said. "The team is excited to be back in front of the home crowd and excited about the support the troops promotion, too."

The Xplorers organization is hosting a "Support Our Troops" night at the game. There will be recognition for local troops during the game, several giveaways at the door, a free pregame tailgate party, a bike rally, big screen TV giveaway at halftime and a jersey auction of the special military jerseys that the Xplorers players will be wearing during the game.

With all that going on, the coach knows that the team still needs to focus on an opponent that has playoff aspirations at 5-5.

"Birmingham has a very good young football team and they are starting to play their best football at the right time," Barto said. "Plus, it is a division game and division games are always dog fights."

The Steeldogs are coming off a 42-35 home win over South Georgia last week and at 5-5, have three more wins than all of last season when they finished 2-14.

The Xplorers have had their struggles coming off of a bye week in recent seasons. The team is 4-4 all-time following a bye and went 1-1 last season. The Steeldogs lead the all-time series with the Xplorers at 3-2, but have dropped the last two to the Xplorers.

After this Saturday night's game, Memphis will have just two home games remaining, including next week versus South Georgia, and will finish with three of the last four on the road.

The Memphis Xplorers...2005 ArenaCup Champions

Help the Xplorers and the Northwest Mississippi Association of Realtors "Support Our Troops" when the Xplorers host the Birmingham Steeldogs on Saturday, June 17 at 7pm. The first 500 fans 12 and under will receive a collectible youth jersey compliments of First Tennessee. The first 1,000 fans will also get Miller Lite Can Koozies and miniature American flags. A-D-T will also be handing out CheerStix to all fans. Sam's Town Casino is sponsoring special jerseys the players will be wearing that will be auctioned off after the game to benefit the local troops and their families. Come early for the bike rally held by ABATE of Mississippi and the Sam's Town/Southern Thunder Harley Tailgate Party from 4 to 6. A big screen TV from Giant TV will be given away at halftime. See your local Giant TV location to sign up. With every purchase of a special $15 dollar ticket to the game, $6 will go to help our local troops and their families. For info, call 662-342-1755.

Listen to all the action on the radio home of the Xplorers, 730 ESPN.

Be sure to head to O'Charley's on Goodman Road in Southaven after every Xplorers home game for the official post game party.

Listen to the Danton Barto Show every Monday at 6pm on 730 ESPN live from The Fox and Hound in Southaven.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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