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Spokane Empire

Shock face Portland in tuneup for AFL playoffs

The Spokane-San Jose playoff matchup was cemented weeks ago so the Shock spent the interim trying to get healthy while building momentum and a winning streak.

They’ve accomplished those goals thus far, with one more opportunity tonight in the regular-season finale against Portland at the Moda Center. Spokane (10-7) has won four in a row and welcomed back standout receiver Adron Tennell in Monday’s win over Tampa Bay.

“We’re getting guys back from injury; (center Ryan) Cave is back from Canada,” said Tennell, who missed eight games with a foot injury. “The defense is playing lights out. Once our offense clicks even more, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Portland (5-12) is locked into a first-round playoff matchup with No.1-seeded Arizona in Phoenix.

The Shock and Thunder may rest certain starters to preserve their health for the playoffs.

“We have to be smart with a couple guys,” Shock coach Andy Olson said. “I think they’ll be treating it the same way, monitoring their injuries.”

Portland, scoring between 27-36 points, dropped its first five games.

The offense has been more productive as the season progressed, in part because of the addition of former Shock quarterback Kyle Rowley.

Former Spokane receivers Jeffrey Solomon (team-high 79 catches, 995 yards) and Duane Brooks (58-643) are having solid seasons, but the Thunder lost standout Eric Rogers to the CFL.

“I played with Rowley in Jacksonville,” Shock linebacker Derrick Summers said. “He knows what he’s doing. They’re a talented team. We can’t count on their record. We still have to play the game.”

Spokane has defeated the Thunder twice.