Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Thursday, September 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Fog 48° Fog

SportsLink

Shock riding momentum into playoffs

Back with a notebook that will run in Wednesday's S-R. The unedited version is below.

You might have noticed that the American Conference playoff pairings didn't include Florida. Here's af2's explanation why and here's the Firecats' version of situation.

(Programming note: I'll post a feature article on Stanley Franks, probably Thursday afternoon.)

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

The arenafootball2 playoffs officially begin Saturday. Spokane feels like it got a bit of a head start.

Thanks to a back-loaded schedule, the Shock tangled with four playoff teams in their last five regular-season games. Those questions about playing a soft schedule have finally gone away.

“We’ve tried to put our best foot forward,” offensive lineman Ryan Belcher said. “We’ve heard the rumors and talk going around that we don’t play anyone, but come see us. I’d love to see Iowa again. I think we should be 16-0, but hopefully we will see them again.

“Our last few games have really been championship level playoff games, so it’s been good experience for us, especially the younger guys.”

Spokane won four of its last five, including victories over American Conference top seed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, playoff-bound Oklahoma City and West Division runner-up Boise. The Shock suffered their lone loss to Iowa, winners of the Midwest Division and No. 2 seed in the American Conference.

Spokane (15-1), the top seed in the National Conference, opens the playoffs against No. 8 Stockton (6-10) Saturday at the Arena.

“I think there was a little bit of a stale time where we were just beating teams and guys were kind of going through the motions,” head coach Adam Shackleford said. “The guys watched the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton film and realized that we can’t go through the motions and beat good teams like that. They saw that in the Boise and Iowa film as well.”

The Shock outlasted Boise 56-51 last Saturday.

“That win was big,” Shackleford said. “It would have been tough going into the second season with a loss. We really feel like if we can continue to play well, we can make a run at this thing.”

Nothing personnel

History suggests that late-season moves often play an important role in playoff success. For that reason, Spokane continues to tinker with its roster. Casey Bulyca, Rob Green and Montrell Jones joined the team last week, though Jones is on the refused-to-report list.

In the second half of the season, Spokane has added defensive back Virgil Gray, defensive end Caesar Rayford and lineman/fullback Johnie Kirton. All three have seen significant playing time.

“We’re always looking,” Shackleford said. “For some positions, like defensive end, there’s not much difference in the indoor and outdoor game. We had an injury to (Jeff) Van Orsow and Caesar came in and filled that role. Kirton has filled a role as a guy that can play multiple positions. Green is a veteran who can play several positions as well. Gray has been a great pick-up.

“We feel like we’ve added veteran depth, quality depth.”

A year ago, Etu Molden played in three games after joining the Shock in mid July. Two years ago, Devon Parks signed on at midseason. In its inaugural season in 2006, Spokane made several key additions (Ed Ta’amu, Kyle Rowley, Jesse Hendrix, Isaiah Trufant, Leo Fenceroy) during the second half, including one (Voncellies Allen) days before winning the ArenaCup.

Notes

Van Orsow, thought to be out for the season after having surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right ring finger, practiced Tuesday and has a chance of playing Saturday. He’s wearing a padded splint to protect his finger. … Shackleford said defensive back Aaron Williams (knee) is probable for Saturday’s game. … Spokane planned on wearing orange jerseys Saturday, but was informed by af2 that it would be a violation of league rules. The Shock will probably wear the uniforms in pre-game or at the post-game autograph session. The team plans on auctioning off the uniforms to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.

 




You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to SportsLink

Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

Follow Jim online:






Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.