Depending on whom you ask, Spokane’s showdown Saturday with Arizona is a monster game, just another game, or somewhere in between.
The two rivals are coming off a bye week. Spokane (8-7) went into the break in a better mood, thumping L.A. 64-46 while Arizona suffered its first loss, a 62-33 setback at San Jose.
“This is one I had marked down on the schedule for a long time, getting the chance to play them at home and it being so close to the end of the regular season,” linebacker Terence Moore said. “We definitely want to make a statement. It’s a very big game for us.”
Receiver Mike Washington said he’ll leave all the hype to fans and the media.
“Personally, I never get caught up in teams and records,” he said. “They’re just the next team in line.”
The Spokane-Arizona rivalry has been lively since the Arena Football League re-started in 2010 after a one-year hiatus. The Shock won the AFL title that season, beating Arizona in the playoffs.
Arizona won the last two championships, edging Spokane 65-57 in last year’s National Conference championship game.
“It’s going to be loud, exciting, a good one for the fans,” Spokane quarterback Erik Meyer said. “They have some Spokane guys that played here in the past. We have some side things going on and we talk a little bit. It’ll be fun to compete against them.”
After playing 13 games in 13 weeks, Shock players scattered during last week’s bye with some visiting California, Michigan, Texas, Nevada and Hawaii.
The timing of the bye was pretty good, coach Andy Olson said. As many as four players probably would have been sidelined if Spokane had played last weekend.
Washington went to Hawaii, where he played college football for the Rainbow Warriors. Meyer and Patrick Afif were in California. Bryant Nnabuife visited Houston and Derrick Summers returned to his native Michigan.
“It was nice to get away, feel sand between the toes and see some friends and family,” Washington said. “It’s extremely important for the mind, body and soul. We’re all from different states and you’re just here for football and when you have that constant tunnel vision you can get consumed by it.
“Sometimes you need a break to let your mind reset.”
Linebacker Terence Moore and defensive back Paul Stephens visited Las Vegas.
“It was my first time going, Paul had been there before with his parents,” Moore said. “We went down there and had some fun.”
Adron Tennell is finally out of the walking boot for his injured left foot, but he’s still in some pain and limping quite a bit.
The 2013 All-AFL first-team receiver probably won’t return this season, though Olson said there’s a chance if Spokane advances deep into the playoffs.
Tennell has 48 receptions for 494 yards. He’s tied for second on the team with 12 touchdown receptions, despite missing the last five games.
Shock center Ryan Cave, who had a brief stint with Montreal of the CFL, is back up north with the B.C. Lions, who have suffered several injuries on the offensive line. Cave was listed as the starting left tackle in B.C.’s 24-9 loss to Montreal on July 4th. … Arizona, San Jose and Spokane have secured three of the four National Conference playoff berths. The third-seeded Shock will open the playoffs at No. 2 San Jose. Portland (4-11) leads L.A. (3-12) in the chase for the fourth seed. Arizona (14-1) and American Conference-leading Cleveland (14-1) are battling for the overall No. 1 seed.