Shock not in awe of record
Spokane has tough schedule ahead to remain undefeated
Adam Shackleford knows arenafootball2 history.
The Spokane Shock head coach knows there’s only been one team to go undefeated. He knows it was Quad City in 2000, af2’s inaugural season. He knows the Steamwheelers won 16 regular-season games and three more in the playoffs for an ArenaCup championship.
Sporting a 12-0 record heading into a road game against Iowa on Saturday, Spokane has a chance to run the table and join Quad City in the record books, but Shackleford isn’t consumed by an unblemished season.
Not that he’s against the notion.
“People bring it up to me, but our schedule is so tough it’s going to be tough to go undefeated,” Shackleford said. “We’re going to go to Iowa and try to continue to play well. This team is capable, but it depends on how well we play each week.”
Two things are working against the Shock. In order to go unbeaten, Spokane would have to win four playoff games (Quad City won three). Also, the Shock face division leaders Iowa (8-4) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (11-2), and West Division rival Boise (11-2) this month.
Iowa is ranked No. 7, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton No. 2 and Boise No. 5.
Working in Spokane’s favor is an af2-record 16-game road winning streak and the fact that the team is winning games on average by nearly four touchdowns.
“We know we’re undefeated,” defensive back Stanley Franks said, “but we’re preparing for each team like they’re the best team and we’re respectful of our opponents. When you start looking ahead, that’s when you get caught.”
Fullback Harrison Nikolao doesn’t get caught up in records.
“It’s a great thing to be undefeated, but the greatest thing is to play well together week in, week out,” he said. “We have our minds set on the bigger picture, and that is getting everyone ready, prepared and believing in each other.”
If that includes a zero in the loss column, Shackleford won’t object.
“Our goal is to win every game,” he said. “We want to clinch home playoff games. We want to win our division, win our conference and win the ArenaCup. If it takes 16-0 to accomplish that, then that’s what we’ll try to do.”
Rival coach impressed
Spokane crushed Oklahoma City with 40 unanswered points in a 61-28 victory last Friday. The Yard Dawgz have quality wins over Arkansas and South Georgia and lost twice to 11-2 Tulsa.
“They’re disciplined, they don’t beat themselves,” Oklahoma City coach Sparky McEwen said of Spokane. “Adam has done an incredible job and it’s a model organization.”
How does Spokane compare with other National Conference powers?
“It’s tough to compare them (with Tulsa) because both teams get after you up front,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see how the National Conference unfolds. We feel like we can play with Spokane, but you can’t beat them when you have the type of penalties and mistakes we had. If you do those things, they’ll do that (61-28) to you.”
Nick Davila’s younger brother, Max, served as a ball boy at Shock practice Wednesday, a task often handled by kicker Brian Jackson. Max, 10, is in Spokane for the second straight summer. He will stay with his brother for about three weeks before returning to California to play Pop Warner football. … Receiver Charles Dillon is practicing full speed. He missed the last two games to rest a high ankle sprain. … Virgil Gray made his Shock debut against Oklahoma City, seeing time on special teams, defensive back and even at linebacker. He finished with four tackles. Gray had eight interceptions as a rookie with Lubbock last season.