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Another scary “underdog” for Shock

Spokane Shock coach Rob Keefe says his team should be able to handle the Kansas City Command on Saturday night.  (Dan Pelle)
Spokane Shock coach Rob Keefe says his team should be able to handle the Kansas City Command on Saturday night. (Dan Pelle)

Spokane faces another Arena Football League opponent with a losing record Saturday night, but that has been the source of some of the Shock’s toughest losses this season.

The Shock (4-6) visit Kansas City (3-7), eight weeks after drubbing the Command 61-34 at the Arena.

“We’ve beaten some top teams in the league and played not so well against some bottom-level teams,” receiver Raul Vijil said. “We know we have to take Kansas City seriously, even though we’ve beaten them before. We expect a fight.”

The Shock have impressive wins over Arizona, Orlando and Dallas, but they also lost to Tampa Bay (4-6), Pittsburgh and Iowa (2-7). Pittsburgh was 3-4 when they defeated Spokane 51-41.

“I would be honest with the Spokane community and myself and say, ‘Hey, you know what, we just don’t have a very good team right now,’ but we do have a very good team,” head coach Rob Keefe said. “And then people say, ‘Keefe, what are you doing wrong?’ We hammer it home every day. We’re almost last in turnovers, almost last in penalties, last in fourth-down conversions.”

Kansas City ranks 12th (out of 18) in scoring offense (49.1) and scoring defense (55.1). The Command ended a three-game losing steak with a 40-38 win over Tulsa last week.

“Watching them on film, no disrespect to Kansas City, but we should win this game,” Keefe said.

Casey Hansen, signed last week when top two quarterbacks Bill Stull and Kyle Rowley went on injured reserve, makes his second start. Kansas City is led by quarterback J.J. Raterink, who was in training camp with the Shock in 2006. He is the only AFL quarterback with more than 3,000 passing yards.

Ex-Shock defensive back Sergio Gilliam paces the Command defense with 50.5 tackles and six interceptions. Linebacker Tyus Jackson, who missed the first meeting last month, should be in the lineup. He has five sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

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