The Spokane Shock are on the verge of making franchise history, but that’s not a good thing.
The Shock (7-6), who have never missed the postseason, head south today for an Arena Football League contest against the West Division-rival San Jose SaberCats (9-5) looking to keep their playoff hopes alive within the only division in the league in which every team has a winning record.
For the most part it’s a must-win game for the Shock, although a loss would not completely squelch their playoff possibilities.
“Last year we were in a lot rougher spot than we are this season,” Shock coach Andy Olson said of his team’s playoff aspirations. “We were so far outside last year … we ended up getting a lot of help to get back in.
“But I really don’t feel like we’re that far out, honestly. It’s going to be difficult. We’re probably going to have to win out to make it. But there’s no reason we can’t do it.”
There are a couple of scenarios in which the Shock could secure a wild-card spot in the National Conference.
If the Shock go 4-1 in their last five games, Chicago loses to San Antonio and San Jose, Arizona wins only one of its remaining four games, San Jose goes no better than .500 in its final contests and Utah wins only one more game, the Shock would clinch a spot.
They will also earn the berth if they win the rest of their games, Chicago loses out for the remainder of the season, San Antonio beats Arizona, San Jose beats Utah and loses its other three games and Utah loses all of its remaining games.
“We understand what we have to do to give ourselves a chance,” Olson said.
There also may be extra motivation after Spokane suffered a heartbreaking, last-second loss to another division rival – the Utah Blaze – last Saturday.
With Utah on Spokane’s 2-yard line, the Shock appeared to have Blaze quarterback Tommy Grady sacked, but he threw the ball out of bounds and officials ruled that it wasn’t intentional grounding.
Olson challenged the call and lost.
That allowed Tysson Poots to grab his fifth touchdown reception and give Utah the lead with 3.2 seconds left.
“Probably the worst call I’ve ever seen in my life,” Olson said after the game.
“I think everyone saw how bad it was,” Olson added. “We watched film (on Monday) and relived it. We didn’t enjoy it, but there’s nothing any one of us can do about it. The loss was a loss and it’s time to move on.”