Xplorers head west in search of eighth win
SOUTHAVEN --- The Memphis Xplorers will attempt to make it back-to-back road victories this Saturday when they visit Stockton, CA for the first time in a Week 10 match-up with the expansion Lightning. The Xplorers, at 7-2, have a league high matching seven wins while the Lightning have struggled to get on track at 3-5. Kick-off is 9:30 CDT at the brand new Stockton Arena.
Last week, the Xplorers snapped a two game road losing skid with a 34-27 win at Amarillo. The team hopes to carry that success into this week with the bye followed by two straight home games on the horizon.
Historically, the West Coast has been kind to the Xplorers and head coach Danton Barto.
"I have never lost a game out there as a player or a coach," he said. "For some reason, the West Coast has always been good for me. We are looking forward to playing a new team in a brand new arena."
Barto and his coaching opponent this week, Richard Davis, are two of the winningest coaches in af2. Both men have 44 wins, including postseason, and are tied for sixth on the all-time list. Of active coaches in af2, only Chris Siegfried, who is coaching the expansion Spokane Shock, has more wins (47).
After beginning the season with two losses, the Lightning have alternated wins and losses the last six games to bring a 3-5 record into Saturday night's game. The team suffered a tough defeat last week with a 41-40 loss to fellow expansion club Everett. It was Everett's first win of the season as the Hawks rallied from a 40-21 deficit.
The Xplorers suffered a loss in last week's victory at Amarillo. Rookie DS Jonathan Lyles was making his Xplorers debut and had collected a big interception early in the second quarter when he broke his ankle going over the wall for a ball in the fourth quarter. Lyles was placed on the Long Term IR on Wednesday.
The Xplorers made one more roster move on Wednesday when they were assigned OL/DL Earnest Jones by the league office. Jones, 6-foot-2, 305 pounds, played the last two seasons at Tennessee State where he was 2nd team All Ohio Valley Conference in 2005. In his two seasons at TSU, the Bronx, NY native made 59 tackles, had 10 tackles for loss and two sacks in 20 career games. Jones transferred to TSU from Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY after the 2003 season.
Jones will help give the Xplorers depth on the offensive and defensive lines where injuries have taken their toll. Second year OL/DL Phillip Perry was lost for the season with an Achilles injury four weeks ago while Blake Lobel and Joseph Crear have also missed time due to injury. Crear returned to he field last week.
The other Jones on the Xplorers' roster, QB Brian Jones, is quietly putting together a phenomenal season. He is on pace for 87 TD and over 4200 yards passing. What has been most impressive is his TD to INT ratio. Jones has 49 TD tosses and just 3 INT entering this week's game. That is a ratio of 16.3, meaning that Jones throws 16.3 touchdowns for every one interception. His current numbers all add up to the top QB rating in the league at 128.2.
Also, with the game on the west coast, fans are reminded that it is a late kickoff at 9:30 CDT. Following the Stockton game, Memphis will enjoy the first of their two bye weeks before entertaining the Birmingham Steeldogs at the DCC on June 17.
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. 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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