Xplorers remain top ranked heading into week four
SOUTHAVEN --- The Memphis Xplorers head into this week's intra-divisional match-up at Florida knowing that the Firecats will be looking get even with the Xplorers after falling 78-46 at the DCC two weeks ago. Following that loss, the Firecats (1-1) rebounded with a 53-40 win at Macon last week. The Xplorers (3-0) completed a season series sweep of the Tennessee Valley Vipers last week with a 56-21 home turf win. Kick-off Saturday night is 6:30 C.D.T THE Germain Arena in Estero, FL.
"This is going to be a tough game," Xplorers Head Coach Danton Barto said. "It's their home opener and they will be fired up after the way the game went here. But we are a good road team, and hope to be up to the challenge."
The win last week kept the Xplorers on top of the weekly af2 Coaches' Poll for the fourth consecutive week. In this week's poll, the Xplorers grabbed 259 of a possible 264 points and 20 of the possible 23 first place votes to easily capture the number one ranking.
While the team was staying undefeated and winning their ninth straight game last week, two Xplorers veterans were claiming career franchise records.
QB Brian Jones passed Tim Lester as the Xplorers' career passing yardage leader last week on his last pass completion of the game, a 12 yard touchdown to Remuise Johnson in the fourth quarter. Jones' 5780 yards are two more than Lester's total of 5778 that he accumulated in 2001 and 2002. Jones had already become the franchise touchdown pass leader, again passing Lester, with his 103rd career scoring toss in the Week Two win over Florida.
OL/DL Joseph Crear took a more round-a-bout route in taking his place in the Xplorers' record book. He led the Xplorers in sacks in his first two seasons of 2003 and 2004 and was the co-franchise all-time leader with Bill Borchers entering the 2005 season. But Khreem Smith's record setting 17 sacks during the 2005 season supplanted Crear and knocked him to number two. Last Saturday, Crear was a force in a resurgent Xplorers pass rush that collected four sacks against the Vipers. Crear's 1.5 sacks in the game allowed him to pass Smith's total of 17 and reclaim the number one spot on the all-time list with a total of 17.5.
Entering this week's game, Memphis is 3-4 all-time versus Florida and has won just once at the Germain Arena, 34-32 on June 29, 2002. A win this week would give the Xplorers a couple of firsts in their series with Florida; back-to-back wins and a series sweep.
The Firecats have many of the players back from last year's 14-2 team that lost to Louisville in the American Conference Championship game. Veteran Quarterback Chris Wallace, who set the Firecats' single season passing records of 3,501 yards and 80 touchdowns last season, is averaging 297.5 passing yards in the first two games this season. In the Week Two game at the DCC, Wallace went 21 of 32 for 251 yards and seven touchdowns.
Magic Benton, who holds the Firecats' career franchise marks in scoring, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, is one of the top offensive specialists in af2 with 21 receptions for 300 yards and six touchdowns in two games. He had 10 receptions for 137 yards and four scores in the earlier loss to Memphis.
Even though the season is still young, this is an important game for both teams in the South Division race. An Xplorers win would keep them undefeated in the division as well as give them a two game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Firecats.
The game can be heard on the radio home of the Xplorers 730 ESPN and at www.730espn.com. Coverage will begin with the pre-game show at 6:10.
The Memphis Xplorers...2005 ArenaCup Champions
The Xplorers are defending their Arena Cup Championship in 2006 and you can be in on the action.
Season Tickets are still available for as low as $7 a game. Or, take advantage of the Xplorers 4-Pack or fantastic discounts for groups of 15 or more. Don't miss all the action of the "50-Yard Indoor War." For ticket information call the Xplorers office at 662-342-1755.
Single game tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, by calling 901-525-1515 or in person at the DeSoto Civic Center box office during business hours.
Be sure to head to O'Charley's on Goodman Road in Southaven after every Xplorers home game for the official post game party.
The Danton Barto Show airs every Monday at 6 pm, live from the Fox and Hound in Southaven, on 730 ESPN.
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