When the Spokane Shock defeated Jacksonville 76-41 last month in Spokane, Kyle Rowley was a spectator in the stands.
When the teams collide tonight in Jacksonville, Fla., Rowley is expected to start for the Sharks in a game with playoff ramifications for both teams.
Second-ranked Spokane (11-4) is trying to earn the third seed in the National Conference. Fourth-ranked Jacksonville (10-5) is battling Philadelphia (10-5) for the top seed in the American Conference.
Rowley, who quarterbacked Spokane to arenafootball2 and Arena Football League titles, was unemployed after being released by Orlando. The job opened up with Jacksonville when quarterback Bernard Morris was injured versus the Shock.
Rowley has had ups and downs, but he came off the bench two weeks ago to guide Jacksonville past Orlando. The Sharks had a bye last week and Morris was activated from injured reserve earlier this week.
“We’ll roll (with) Kyle and see what happens,” Sharks coach Les Moss told the Florida Times-Union.
The Shock will roll with the lineup that delivered a 63-49 win over Tampa Bay last week on the first leg of the team’s 10-day Florida road trip.
“We didn’t play great by any standards,” coach Andy Olson said.
Olson expects an inspired effort from the Sharks, who activated Jeff Hughley from team suspension to join a strong receiving unit with Jeron Harvey and ex-Shock player Markee White.
The Sharks, paced by nine sacks each from former Shock players Jerry Turner and Aaron Robbins, lead the AFL with 36 sacks. Spokane, tied for first in scoring offense at 66.5 points, has allowed 10 sacks, second fewest in the league.
“Hughley is one of the better receivers in the AFL,” Olson said. “They’re not going to play like they did in Spokane. It’s going to be a hard-fought battle. They have a lot of veterans, good veterans and they’re a tough team to beat in Jacksonville.”
Jacksonville is 0-4 vs. West Division teams.