Spokane has enjoyed a huge home-field advantage since the franchise's inaugural year in 2006. Rarely have the Shock dealt with loud crowds on the road. That figures to change when they face Iowa on Saturday night in Des Moines.
Read on for an unedited game preview (and a couple of additional notes at the bottom).
By Jim Meehan
The Spokane Shock are spending the Fourth of July with perhaps 10,000 of the Iowa Barnstormers closest friends.
“We’ll be going into a hostile environment, but our team is built on and thrives on overcoming things,” fullback Harrison Nikolao said. “I really believe we’re going to feed off that energy. It’ll be a shocker for us, but it’s great.”
It’s an environment the Shock rarely see outside of home games. The Barnstormers, Midwest Division leaders by a half-game over
The largest audience for a
“The only way to silence a crowd is to get up on a team and keep pounding on them,” Shackleford said. “We hope we’re fortunate enough to get into that situation but this isn’t the type of team that people get big leads on. It’s the kind of team you have to go toe-to-toe with and try to be the better team at the end.”
One of the keys was defensive back Stanley Franks, who contained veteran receiver Tim Dodge in the second half. Dodge had just one of his seven catches after intermission.
Dodge (81 catches, 1,001 yards, 17 touchdowns and Walter McCown (80, 1,034, 18) are quarterback Brian Villanueva’s main targets.
--Shackleford said Spokane will suit up four WRs and four DBs tonight. Usually he's forced to go with seven WRs/DBs, but Belcher's international status allows for an extra player. The four WRs will be Raul Vijil, Andy Olson, Markee White and Charles Dillon. White probably will start as Dillon, returning from an ankle injury, works his way back into the rotation. The DBs will be starters Sergio Gilliam, Stanley Franks, Damon Jenkins and Virgil Gray. The extra player should be a factor on special teams where a DB/WR will likely replace a linebacker or lineman.