Xplorers host Louisville in first round Saturday
SOUTHAVEN --- On Saturday night, the 2006 af2 regular season came to a close and, with it, all the pieces for the post-season fell into place. The piece that fell into place for the Memphis Xplorers is a familiar foe, both on the field and on the sidelines. The Xplorers will host the Louisville Fire in the af2 first round this Saturday at 7 p.m. at the DeSoto Civic Center. Tickets for the game are on sale now at all TicketMaster outlets, at TicketMaster.com, by calling 901-525-1515 or at the DeSoto Civic Center Box Office.
The Louisville Fire entered the weekend with a chance to win the East Division and grab a first round bye. But, after falling on Friday to the Green Bay Blizzard and with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Manchester winning, the Fire dropped to the sixth seed and into a first round game versus the Xplorers at the DCC.
The Xplorers and Fire have met a total eight times in their histories, including a 63-55 Fire win earlier this season. The most noteworthy meeting came in last year's ArenaCup Championship Game won by the Xplorers 63-41. The history between the coaches has also been well documented. The Fire's Tommy Johnson and the Xplorers' Danton Barto have been friends since high school when they played football in Niceville, FL and opponents in college when Barto was at Memphis State and Johnson was at Alabama.
The Xplorers are 5-3 in the all-time series with Barto having a 3-2 advantage in the head-to-head meetings with his long-time friend since Johnson took over the Fire job in 2003.
In their regular season finale on Friday, the Fire let a 53-30 fourth quarter lead slip away and lost 54-53 at Green Bay. The Xplorers were on the bye for Week 18 and should be well rested for this first round match-up. In their 63-55 loss at Louisville on July 8, the Xplorers played without starting quarterback Brian Jones and have also added veterans OL/DL Nate Grace and WR/DB Adrian Burnette since that game.
In the other American Conference games with playoff implications this weekend: Manchester bombarded Quad City 79-48; Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defeated Albany 54-27 and Arkansas eliminated Macon 53-33.
Florida and Green Bay are the East and South Division champs, respectively, and receive first round byes. Memphis, Manchester, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Louisville are the wild-cards. The other wild-card game has Wilkes-Barre/Scranton playing at Manchester on Friday. An Xplorers win this Saturday would send them to Green Bay for the Conference Semifinals.
Unlike the American Conference, the National Conference's six teams were set going into Week 18. Spokane and Tulsa are the division winners while Central Valley, Oklahoma City, Arkansas and Bakersfield are the wild-cards. Spokane and Tulsa get the byes while Bakersfield plays at Central Valley and Oklahoma City hosts Arkansas this weekend.
Tickets for the Xplorers' August 5 home playoff game vs Louisville at 7 pm are on sale now.
Call TicketMaster at 901-525-1515, go to www.ticketmaster.com or stop by the DeSoto Civic Center Box Office during business hours. Playoff tickets for groups of 12 or more are discounted up to $14 a ticket. Call 662-342-1755 for group ticket information.
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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