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Shock, Burn tangle again

Back with the game preview for Saturday’s showdown between Boise and Spokane at the Arena. Read on for an unedited version that will run in Saturday’s paper.


 

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

Coaches never look too far ahead. It would violate the tenets of the profession and contradict the cliché about “taking it one game at a time.”

So, Spokane’s undivided attention is on Boise. The Burn are 4-1, ranked seventh and just one game behind the top-ranked Shock (5-0) in the West Division. Those facts alone make tonight’s arenafootball2 showdown at the Arena a big one.

Not to mention what’s coming down the road.

For Spokane, a difficult 10-game stretch, with road trips to 4-3 Iowa, 3-3 Florida and 4-1 Boise (to close the regular season), and home dates with 6-1 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and 4-1 Oklahoma City. For Boise, four games against winless opponents (three vs. Tri-Cities, one vs. Amarillo) and only two against foes with records above .500 (Spokane and 5-2 South Georgia).

“This has head-to-head tiebreaker implications,” said Shock coach Adam Shackleford, whose team defeated Boise 63-45 three weeks ago in Boise. “We don’t sweep the series by winning this one but we win the series. And we have a tougher schedule from here on out. That’s what makes this game very important.”

The teams’ schedules differ on several fronts. Spokane plays 11 West Division games, Boise 13. Spokane plays the bottom three West teams eight times; Boise 10. The West’s bottom three are a combined 4-13. Spokane has five non-divisional games and those teams are at .500 or better. Boise has three out-of-division games and those three are a combined 7-10.

“I truly have no clue. I was handed the schedule and I have no idea how they do it,” first-year Burn coach Brent Winter said. “They have a tough schedule, but they’re the best team in the league. They’re the measuring stick for everybody else.”

The Burn didn’t measure up three weeks ago, committing five turnovers and giving up 63 points, roughly 26 more than their af2-leading average of 37.2. Boise has settled on Taylor Tharp at quarterback and the defense and special teams continue to help put points on the board.

Tharp, a former Boise State Bronco, has completed 61.2 percent of his passes and tossed 19 touchdowns, including seven vs. Stockton last week. He beat out Rudy Carlton for the starting job.

“He brings a little bit of stability and calmness to the position, and he’s improving week to week,” Winter said.

A week ago, the Burn scored on a kickoff return, an interception return and a fumble recovery. On the season, Boise has scored on five interceptions returns and three kickoff returns.

“They capitalize on people’s mistakes and that makes them a better team than some of the teams we’ve been facing,” Shackleford said.

Linebacker Levi Madarieta, one of four former Shock players with the Burn, has four interceptions and he’s returned two for touchdowns. Ex-Shock defensive back Tremaine Tyler, second on the team in tackles, is out with a knee injury. Nygel Rogers is seeing time in the secondary. Palauni Ma Sun and David Stanton are starting linemen.

“The (Shock) are going to play intelligent football,” Winter said. “If you don’t match them, it’s going to be a long night, as we proved the first time we played them.”

Notes

Shock offensive lineman Ryan Belcher (mono) returns after a two-week absence. … In anticipation of a loud Spokane crowd, Boise practiced this week with music blaring in the background. … As of early Friday evening, about 300 tickets remained.

 

 

 

 


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