Spokane closes out its roller-coaster 2012 Arena Football League season tonight with an opportunity to reach 10 wins and put a damper on Tampa Bay’s playoff chances.
The Shock (9-8), eliminated from the playoff chase a couple of weeks ago, entertain the Storm (8-9) at 7 at the Arena. Tampa Bay, which lost to Spokane in the 2010 ArenaBowl, clinches a playoff spot with a victory.
“It’s dangerous for us,” Shock receiver Adron Tennell said. “We really don’t have anything to play for, so we’re going to play to spoil their chances. We still want to finish with a two-game winning streak.”
A Shock victory would give all four West Division teams at least 10 wins, which would be a first in the AFL’s 25-year history. Three West Division teams had at least 10 wins in a 16-game schedule in 2003 and three South Division squads did the same in 2005. Three South teams registered at least 11 wins in 2011, the first year with 18 regular-season games.
Spokane’s West rivals Arizona (12-5), Utah (12-5) and San Jose (12-6) have qualified for the playoffs. Tampa Bay is tied with New Orleans and Georgia, one game behind South Division-leading Jacksonville.
“I hope the guys stays focused,” the Shock’s Kyle Rowley said. “As a quarterback I try to find ways to stay focused, but for the most part we have a team that has heart and wants to win games.”
Tampa Bay has won two straight games by a combined five points to stay in the playoff picture. Receiver Joe Hills, who saw limited time with Spokane earlier this season, has emerged as a key player for the Storm with 31 receptions for 433 yards and 10 touchdowns in four games.