Arrow-right Camera
Spokane Empire
Sports >  Spokane Empire

Spokane Empire need victory, help to reach IFL playoffs

UPDATED: Thu., June 15, 2017, 4:33 p.m.

Empire head coach Adam Shackleford calls a play for quarterback Aaron Wilmer in a May, 2017, IFL game. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Empire head coach Adam Shackleford calls a play for quarterback Aaron Wilmer in a May, 2017, IFL game. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane has spent the last half of the Indoor Football League regular season playing its way out of the postseason.

The Empire have dropped five of their last six games but the playoff door is still ajar.

Spokane (8-7) needs a road win over Salt Lake in the regular-season finale Friday and a Wichita Falls Nighthawks victory over the Nebraska Danger (8-7) to reach the playoffs. If those two outcomes happen, Spokane would visit top-seeded Arizona for the Intense Conference title next week.

A Spokane loss or Nebraska win ends the Empire’s season and puts the Danger in the playoffs.

“Go Nighthawks,” Empire coach Adam Shackleford said.

But that’s only half the battle. Spokane will trot out its third different starting quarterback in five weeks against the Screaming Eagles (4-11), who pushed the Empire to the final seconds in previous losses by six, 17 and two.

Marcus McDade, who stepped in for Aaron Wilmer in the second half of last week’s 58-28 loss to Iowa, will start for Spokane. It was McDade’s first game action since playing in a German pro league last season.

“I thought Marcus played well,” Shackleford said. “He’s a big-body guy, throws the ball very well, throws on time and he plays with a lot of confidence.”

Salt Lake hired Matt Sauk as head coach after going 1-1 in its first two games. Sauk played for Shackleford in Louisville in 2004-05 and coached on Shackleford’s staff in Spokane in 2008-09.

Salt Lake has been competitive under Sauk but stung by five losses by a touchdown or less.

Spokane’s primary issue has been putting points on the scoreboard.

“Our red zone efficiency is horrible, our turnovers in the red zone are embarrassing,” Shackleford said. “If those things don’t stop, we’re not going to be a contender even if we get in the playoffs.”


Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.

There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com

You have been successfully subscribed!


Top stories in Spokane Empire

Life without arena football: Faithful fans root for return of high-flying sport to Spokane

The season is winding down in arena football leagues across the country but not in Spokane. The franchise – known as the Shock for the first 10 seasons in arenafootball2 and the Arena Football League and the Empire for two seasons in the Indoor Football League – shuttered last July for financial reasons. The organization’s 12-year run was long by most arena franchise standards, but not long enough for its diehard fans.