Head coach Andy Olson was going through Spokane’s starting eight on offense and something caught his eye.
“I think this might be the first time all season where we have the same group starting,” said Olson, who is still without several key players on injured reserved.
Spokane isn’t completely healthy – Adron Tennell (knee) and Brandon Thompkins (hamstring) were limited because of the short week of preparation – but both standout receivers are expected to play when the eighth-ranked Shock visit the Iowa Barnstormers tonight in Des Moines.
Spokane (5-4) has won four of five, including a 65-47 rout over No. 2 Philadelphia last week. Olson called it one of the team’s best efforts of the season, outside of a turnover and some issues with the hands team on onside kicks.
Iowa (4-6) spoiled Spokane’s season and home opener with a 69-63 win on May 12. Quarterback J.J. Raterink tossed seven touchdown passes, five to Jesse Schmidt. Spokane committed five turnovers and quarterback Erik Meyer was knocked out in the fourth quarter on a late hit by linebacker John Mohring, who was ejected and suspended.
Raterink suffered a separated right (throwing) shoulder last week and missed most of Iowa’s 55-19 loss to Jacksonville. Raterink, who is expected to play, ranks fourth in passer rating (122.8) and has thrown just five interceptions, fewest among AFL regulars. He’s also absorbed many of the team’s 31 sacks allowed, most in the AFL.
Schmidt ranks among AFL leaders in receptions, yards per game and TDs.
“They’re a great combo,” Olson said of Raterink and Schmidt. “Jesse finds a way to get open. He burned us a lot but I think we’ve learned something from that game.”
Notes: Spokane signed former WSU/EWU receiver Jeffrey Solomon and released Joe Hills. Solomon won’t play tonight. … Chris Schiechl will make his first start at ‘Mac’ linebacker. “He showed some progression,” Olson said. “We’ll give him a shot.” … Patrick Stoudamire was activated from injured reserve. He’ll play on special teams and back up the secondary of Terrance Sanders, Josh Ferguson and Paul Stephens.