Spokane’s 64-62 arenafootball2 win over Boise on Saturday was probably its most satisfying victory thus far this season. Probably its most painful, too.
Several Shock players were sidelined with an assortment of injuries, none of which appears to be serious. Fullback Harrison Nikolao departed with injured ribs. He was replaced by linebacker Kevin McCullough, who missed one play after dislocating and fracturing his pinkie finger. McCullough played offense, defense and was also in his customary spot on the kickoff coverage unit.
Receiver Andy Olson cramped up in the second half and was replaced by Patrick Bugg. Defensive back Sergio Gilliam was woozy after a collision with Boise’s Jomo Wilson in the end zone. Offensive lineman Ryan Belcher (hamstring) and defensive back Aaron Williams (knee) sat out at least portions of Tuesday’s practice.
“We’re pretty banged up, pretty sore, but we could have everybody available” for Saturday’s road game against Florida, Spokane head coach Adam Shackleford said. “It was the most physical game we’ve been in.”
McCullough will wear a molded splint to protect his finger. He was injured on Boise’s second series while bracing himself as he fell to the turf. Nikolao left the game in the second quarter and didn’t return, but he told Shackleford he’ll be fine for Saturday.
“Every game is pretty physical,” receiver Raul Vijil said, “especially playing on the surface we’re on and with the (padded) walls. We have a great training staff here and we need to take advantage of that and get healthy.”
Coaches are constantly making adjustments during games and last week was no exception. Shackleford put part of the blame for the Shock’s sluggish offense in the first half on his play-calling. He felt he stuck with his game plan a little too long.
Spokane played better in the second half.
“They were giving us some problems in our trips sets, so we put two (receivers) to the field (wide side) instead of three,” Shackleford said. “It spread them out and we were able to pick on the middle guy a little bit more.”
Boise’s offense had success for the better part of three quarters, but Gilliam, who was benched briefly in the second quarter, came back to make a couple of key interceptions.
“They were trying to isolate us in some spots,” Shackleford said. “We moved our personnel, trying to figure out our best matchup with theirs. We moved Sergio to front-side corner and Aaron (Williams) to back-side and that really helped take their game plan away.”
The Burn took a chance when they lined up for a 46-yard field goal on the last play of the first half, and Vijil made Boise pay when he returned the errant kick 55 yards for a touchdown.
“Usually when it’s a deep field goal, they’ll put more cover guys out there,” Vijil said. “I was checking it out before they kicked and I didn’t see many speed guys, so I definitely knew that was my opportunity to make a play.”
Af2 HQ in Spokane?
A Tulsa, Okla., newspaper reported that several af2 cities, including Spokane, are interested in becoming home to the league’s administrative offices. Af2 is headquartered in Chicago, but is considering moving, likely to a city with an af2 franchise.
“It’s more speculation than anything,” Shock majority owner Brady Nelson said. “Some cities are really making a push to get the headquarters moved, (offering) free rent and financial incentives. We haven’t pushed it whatsoever.”
Tulsa, Des Moines, Albany, Oklahoma City and Bossier/Shreveport are among those expected to make bids. Nelson, who is attending league meetings in Dallas, said discussion on the topic will probably come up later this week but no vote is expected.
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