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Fri., Nov. 6, 2009, 8:22 p.m.

Final final version

I keep getting calls returned, spaced several hours apart, which require a quick update to my original article on the details of the new arena football league.

I don't have any other calls out, so the final unedited version is below. It's not a whole lot different from the previous one or two, but it does mention the commissioner discussing the possibility of another couple of teams joining the fold.

Read on.

By Jim Meehan; (208) 765-7131

As Spokane continues forming its roster, the new arena football league it is joining is ironing out details for the 2010 season.

The Shock announced Friday the return of defensive lineman Ben McCombs and fullback Harrison Nikolao, as well as the addition of AFL veterans Terry Moss, Cleannord Saintil and Chris Martin. They join four players who signed earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Shock general manager Adam Nebeker, who just returned from Board of Directors meetings in Chicago, said the league is firming up the number of teams, divisions and player pay scale.

Commissioner Jerry Kurz agreed. “I think by the end of next week we’ll have an announcement in stone of who is in and who is not,” Kurz said. “I’d rather go with a smaller number of teams that are all solid and give teams that aren’t accepted a little longer to get up and running for 2011.”

At least 11 teams are expected to form the upper tier of the new league. Spokane will probably play in the North with Utah, Milwaukee, Chicago and Iowa. The South would consist of Arizona, Tulsa, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Orlando and Jacksonville. Arizona has signed four former Shock players – quarterback Nick Davila, defensive back Sergio Gilliam and offensive linemen Kyle Young and John Booker.

There are currently six lower-tier teams: Tri-Cities, Central Valley, Bossier-Shreveport, Oklahoma City, Arkansas and Tennessee Valley. Those six, along with Spokane, Tulsa, Iowa and Milwaukee, were members of arenafootball2 last season.

Additions are possible, including another upper tier team and two lower tier, which would leave both with an even number, Kurz said. That’s advantageous for scheduling.

Playoffs for the upper tier will likely consist of six teams. North and South division winners would earn first-round byes. Second-place teams in each division would qualify. The final two qualifiers would be on the basis of best record.

Teams would carry 20 players on the active roster, three on practice squad. There won’t be an exemption for international players, one of the few rules that won’t carry over from af2. Players will make $400 per game, but teams will be allowed to sign a maximum of three ‘showcase’ players, who will make $1,000 per game. Quarterback figures to be one of the ‘showcase’ positions, along with receiver and middle defensive back.

McCombs, in his first season with the Shock, led af2 with 15.5 sacks in 2009. Nikolao has nine rushing touchdowns the last two seasons. Saintil led AFL San Jose with 120 catches for 1,503 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2008. The 33-year-old Martin, a former Washington State Cougar, led AFL in 2008 with six returns for touchdowns for Grand Rapids. Moss had 15 receptions in six games with AFL New York in 2008.

Receiver Raul Vijil, the only member of the first four Shock teams, said he’s undecided about returning. After Spokane won the ArenaCup in August, Vijil sounded as if he’d played his last game. Now, the door is slightly more open.

“We’ve talked quite a bit and Rob (Keefe, Shock head coach) and I are really good friends,” Vijil said. “I definitely have a decision to make in the near future.”



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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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