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Xplorers to raise banner before raising curtain on home opener this Saturday

April 6, 2006 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

SOUTHAVEN --- It is a match-up of the past two ArenaCup Champions this Saturday at the DeSoto Civic Center. The Memphis Xplorers, the 2005 champs, host the Florida Firecats, winners of the 2004 Cup, at 7 p.m. in Memphis' home opener. The Xplorers will look to start the season 2-0 while, for Florida, it will be their season opener.

By the time the game kicks off there will be a new banner in the rafters of the DCC. In a pre-game ceremony, the team will raise the 2005 championship banner with hopes that it will inspire the new players on this year's squad.

"It is going to be exciting." Head Coach Danton Barto said of the banner raising. "I think it will inspire our new guys and fire up our veterans for the game and for the rest of the season. When they see that banner up there, they will say ‘Hey, let's get another one."

The Xplorers are coming off a 47-25 season opening win at Tennessee Valley on Saturday that saw QB Brian Jones throw for 295 yards and six scores. On the defensive side, the team held the Vipers to just six second half points while DS Deon Giddens broke the team record for single-game tackles with 13. The win allowed the Xplorers to remain number one in the af2 Coaches Poll; receiving 207 points and 14 of the 23 first place votes. Florida is ranked third in this week's poll.

The Firecats, despite their league best 14-2 regular season record in 2005, failed to make it back to the ArenaCup last August. The team lost 70-40 to the Louisville Fire in the American Conference Finals with the Fire then falling to the Xplorers in the 2005 ArenaCup 63-41. When they won the title in 2004, the Firecats finished the regular season 10-6.

Florida was one of nine teams that had a bye in week one, so Memphis will have the advantage of having a game under their belts entering this crucial South Division game. Barto says he expects his team to play better than it did in week one.

"We kind of played the way you would expect a team that lost a lot of veterans to play in the first game," he said. "But as a coach I think it is always nice to win when you do not play your best. We will need to play better against this Florida team."

Florida leads the all-time series 5-2 with the last meeting being in the first round of the 2004 playoffs at Florida when the Xplorers missed a 13 yard field goal on the final play and fell 35-33 to the eventual champions. Barto says the teams that will meet on Saturday are very similar.

"They are built a lot like we are," Barto said. "They have a good defense with a good quarterback that makes good decisions and they have good skill guys. I think we are two teams that mirror each other in philosophy, too, by focusing on defense first."

The Xplorers play division opponents in each of their first five games of the season with a rematch with the Firecats on April 22 in Estero, FL in what will be the Firecats' home opener.

Along with the pre-game banner raising ceremony this Saturday, the first 1,500 fans will receive an Xplorers 2006 magnet schedule.

The Memphis Xplorers...2005 ArenaCup Champions

The Xplorers will defend their Arena Cup Championship in 2006 and you can be in on the action. Season Tickets are available now and begin as low as $56. Don't miss all the action of the "50-Yard Indoor War." For season ticket information call the Xplorers office at 662-342-1755.

Single game tickets are also available now starting at $12 and can be purchased online at, by calling 901-525-1515 or in person at the DeSoto Civic Center box office during business hours.

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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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