As I write this, Spokane is probably on a bus somewhere in Oregon en route to Boise for Saturday's game against the Burn. Head coach Adam Shackleford lets the players pick the movies. It usually starts with a comedy, followed by an action movie.
Below, you can read my game preview and find out more about two new Shock players at the very bottom.
First, the preview...
By Jim Meehan
Spokane and Boise meet tonight for the third time this season and it’s possible they’ll collide again in the playoffs in two weeks.
Still, there’s an element of the unknown going into the arenafootball2 regular-season finale at Qwest Arena in Boise.
No. 1-ranked Spokane (14-1) has clinched the division title and hosting rights in the playoffs. Head coach Adam Shackleford plans on playing his starters, although standout receiver Raul Vijil will be absent while attending a wedding.
No. 6 Boise (12-3) is locked in as the National Conference’s No. 4 seed. Win or lose tonight, the Burn will entertain the Arkansas-Bossier/Shreveport loser in the first round of the playoffs next week. The winner of that game will face the Spokane-Stockton winner.
“I don’t think they’re playing for anything outside of pride, same as us,” Shock head coach Adam Shackleford said. “I think he (Boise coach Brent Winter) is probably saying a lot of the same things I am this week. I don’t know if he’s the kind of coach that rests his guys or not. I hope he doesn’t so we get a terrific look.”
Odds are Boise, which lost to South Georgia last week, won’t throttle back, particularly after losing twice to Spokane in the first seven weeks of the season. Boise doesn’t want to enter the playoffs on a two-game losing streak. The Burn are 0-7 all time against Spokane.
Plus, it’s possible five former Shock players (David Stanton, Palauni Ma Sun, Levi Madarieta, Nygel Rogers and Tremaine Tyler) could start for the Burn. Stanton was activated from injured-reserve Thursday.
However, with another meeting possible in two weeks, neither team figures to exhaust its playbook.
“We are saving stuff,” Shackleford said. “We haven’t shown everything we can do.”
Vijil returned a missed field goal for a touchdown and Sergio Gilliam intercepted two passes in Spokane’s 64-62 win over Boise on May 9. The Burn won their next eight before falling at South Georgia.
Boise has scored eight touchdowns on kick returns, eight on interception returns and six on fumble returns. The Burn force and commit a lot of turnovers. They have 36 turnovers, including 23 interceptions, but they have 42 takeaways.
Quarterback Taylor Tharp has one of the af2’s best completion percentages (68.2), but he’s tossed 21 interceptions to go with 65 touchdowns.
Spokane signed two more players, but neither is expected to play tonight. Receiver Montrell Jones was one of 12 players trying to earn the last training-camp roster spot with the Dallas Cowboys on the TV show “4th and Long,” hosted by Michael Irvin. Jones wasn’t chosen. The other addition is defensive back Rob Green, who has played for five af2 teams, including two where Shackleford was an assistant coach. … Receiver Andy Olson is back in the lineup after missing last week’s game with sore ribs. … Defensive back Jimmie Sutton has left the team. “We didn’t see eye-to-eye on playing time,” Shackleford said.
--And a little more on Jones and Green here, and more on Jones and the TV show here, here and here.