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Shock cling to slim playoff hopes

Spokane receiver Steven Black and the Shock are barely clinging to playoff hopes. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Spokane receiver Steven Black and the Shock are barely clinging to playoff hopes. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Spokane’s up-and-down Arena Football League season has been on display in its last six games: win, loss, win, loss, win, loss. Some of its best football, some of its worst.

The result is Spokane will likely miss the playoffs for the first time in its seven-year arena football history, even if it sweeps its final three regular-season games. That doesn’t mean head coach Andy Olson’s expecta- tions have changed when the Shock (8-7) visit No. 2 Philadelphia (13-3) today at the Wells Fargo Center.

“I expect them to go to work,” Olson said. “There’s no other way to go about it. We understand we’re in a tough spot, but we’re professionals and it’s our job to win the game.”

Spokane’s slim playoff hopes absorbed another setback when Utah defeated Arizona on Friday. Spokane can finish with the same record as Utah, but loses the tiebreaker.

Philadelphia, which has clinched the American Conference East Division and hosting rights in the playoffs, has won six straight after a 65-47 loss to the Shock in May. Philadelphia leads the AFL in scoring at 68.6 points per game. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh has tossed 105 touchdown passes and Derrick Ross has 27 rushing touchdowns.

“The first thing we have to do is slow down their run and screen game,” Olson said. “We have to force them to throw the ball deep.”

The Soul lost standout receiver Tiger Jones, who will be in training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Chris Pino will replace the injured Palauni Ma Sun on Spokane’s offensive line. Five receivers will suit up for the Shock, including Justin Ore, who was activated from injured reserve.

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