Rattlers sound familiar with six ex-Shock players
For two seasons, quarterback Nick Davila and receiver Raul Vijil hooked up for touchdowns as the Spokane Shock dominated arenafootball2.
Davila is Spokane’s career leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns, by fairly substantial margins. Vijil is No. 1 in receptions, receiving touchdowns, receiving yards, returns yards and all-purpose yards, most by sizable amounts. Their names are all over the single-game and single-season records lists, too.
The two will exchange pre- and postgame pleasantries tonight, but their friendship will take a three-hour break when Vijil and Spokane take on the Davila-led Arizona Rattlers at US Airways Center in Phoenix. The Rattlers have six former Shock players, though offensive lineman John Booker and fullback Johnie Kirton may not suit up.
“Nick just had a baby boy and I sent a little congratulations down his way,” said Vijil, after Shock practice earlier this week at the Arena. “He helped put up some of the (championship) flags in this building. It’s going to be fun to see those guys, but we’re kind of focused on us.”
Arizona also has ex-Shock standouts Sergio Gilliam and Kyle Young, and Kelvin Morris from the 2007 squad. Young starts at center. Gilliam has played defensive back and linebacker (one interception, two forced fumbles, 13 tackles) and briefly receiver (one catch, 7 yards).
“We know those faces, but I want to win,” Spokane defensive end Ben McCombs said. “My No. 1 priority is to do my job the best I can, and I’ll worry about the other stuff later.”
The teams are off to nearly identical starts in the Arena Football League’s West Division. Both are 2-2, both are coming off heartbreaking losses last week.
Spokane is averaging 69 points per game and allowing 62.5. Arizona checks in at 63.8 points per game and yields 66.
Davila has a passer rating of 116.9 with 27 touchdown passes and four interceptions. Spokane counterpart Kyle Rowley’s rating is 121.9 while tossing 29 touchdowns and four picks.
“We wanted to reach out to (2009 Shock players) and say, ‘Hey, I think you deserve a shot because of what you’ve done in the last two years of the af2,’ ” Spokane coach Rob Keefe said. “Everyone had their own decisions. I know Nick was going to have a baby and his dad was a little sick. He’s four hours from home. Kyle had never played an arena game in front of his parents on a weekly basis and he’s four hours from home.
“Sergio wanted a little bit of a new routine, which I completely understand. At the end of the day, we’re happy with our decisions. Not to put any locker room material up for them, they’re learning new systems and kind of on their own path, but I’m very happy with the guys we’ve recruited.”
Shock offensive coordinator Matt Sauk will serve a one-game suspension for violating the AFL’s Code of Conduct policy during Saturday’s loss to Cleveland, Commissioner Jerry Kurz announced.Sauk was incensed when no penalty was called on the last play of the game and he sprinted after officials to voice his complaint. Keefe is expected to call plays for the offense. … With former Washington State receiver Trandon Harvey out of the lineup and Anthony Mix’s status unknown, Arizona has signed ex-AFL standout Siaha Burley.