ArenaCup media day came and went. As I expected, there are two beat writers here (me and a guy from a paper back East) and a couple of television/radio crews. Not quite like the press gathering at Super Bowl XL in Detroit a few years ago! I think there were 2,000 of us in a hotel ballroom for the Rolling Stones Q & A.
Both teams played nice in front of the cameras and tape recorders, but players on both sides recall a lot of yakking from the July contest won by Spokane 56-52. Still, words probably won’t matter much in the rematch. Execution, turnovers and pass rush will.
Read on for my unedited game advance. (That’s Andy Olson pictured from the first game with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton).
For Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, it’s an opportunity to avenge a regular-season loss to the Shock and for six holdovers to win a championship after experiencing a narrow loss in the 2007 ArenaCup.
Redemption will be on the minds of many of the participants tonight when ArenaCup X kicks off at 7 at the Orleans Arena.
“That one play (
“I wanted to let them know how I was feeling and how the rest of the guys from that team are feeling. We can’t afford to let that happen again.”
For different reasons, the Pioneers (16-3) feel the same way.
“We learned a lot from that game out there (in July),” coach Rich Ingold said. “No. 1, in a big game you can’t turn the ball over and we turned it over four times. I’m glad we get to go to a neutral site because home field is huge in arena football, especially when you draw like they do.”
Parrish has three sacks in three playoff wins to go with 11 in 14 regular-season games. Leak had 43 tackles, seven quarterback hurries, six sacks and four forced fumbles in the regular season.
“We add more bulk, speed and power to the pass rush,” said Parrish, who apologized for the July incident for “being selfish and putting myself in that situation.”
“If both quarterbacks are able to sit back and not feel pressured, it could be a lot higher scoring game than people think,” Shock coach Adam Shackleford said. “If that happens, it’s really going to put pressure on the defensive backs to play well.”
Pass rush was one of the deciding factors in the first meeting.
“This game is why I came up here,” he said. “I’ve been in this league a long time and this is my first shot at the ArenaCup. It would be a huge accomplishment to a huge year.”
For that to happen, defensive coordinator Alex Sirianni said the Shock must prevent quick-strike touchdowns and find a way to pressure Vena.
“Our defensive line works like Novocaine,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a while, but pretty soon it’s going to hit you.”
“The most important thing in this game is whoever makes the least mistakes is going to win,” Davila said.
In that regard, the Shock must feel confident, having led af2 in turnover margin (plus-34). The Pioneers were third at plus-21.
“For the guys that came back, I definitely don’t want to lose that ring two years in a row,”