Five things to watch: Spokane Shock vs. Northern Arizona Wranglers
June 18, 2021 Updated Fri., June 18, 2021 at 10:53 p.m.
For the second time in 14 days, the second-ranked Spokane Shock will face the cellar-dwelling Northern Arizona Wranglers.
This time they meet at the Arena, with a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday that will feature fans for the first time since the organization’s rebirth.
The Shock (3-1) came alive in the fourth quarter to down the winless Wranglers (0-4) 42-24 in Prescott Valley, Arizona, on June 5.
Here are five things to watch in this Indoor Football League rematch.
Will trash-talk feud continue?: Shock receiver Troy Evans Jr. brazenly approached Wranglers owner Trey Medlock after scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown in their first meeting, proceeding to gesticulate and doling out a few words of trash talk.
Northern Arizona broadcasters were taken aback by the scene caught live on camera. Evans said Medlock was jawing at Shock players at previous points in the game.
Will this continue on Saturday or have they made they amends?
Look out for Rudd: Northern Arizona receiver Kevyan Rudd was a problem for the Shock two weeks ago.
Rudd had four catches for 68 yards and three touchdowns, including a scoring grab that cut the Shock’s lead to 29-24 in the fourth quarter.
He ranks second in the IFL in receiving with 19 catches for 275 yards and five touchdowns.
Sapp-Lynch’s turn: The Shock were without their primary ball carrier, Davonte Sapp-Lynch, at Northern Arizona, as he was attending his sister’s wedding.
Shock coach Billy Back looked to wide receivers Evans and Speedy Noil to take the carries in the first meeting, combining for 112 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Sapp-Lynch (six touchdowns in three games) will likely cause more problems on Saturday for the Wranglers, an expansion team that was formed in 2020.
A welcome atmosphere: Ask several of Shock’s IFL veteran players and coaches why they made the move to Spokane after it announced its 2019 return.
Passionate fanbase is among their top reasons.
The Arena is allowing fans on Saturday, so does this mark the return of the rowdy “Deaf Valley” and the “Goal-Line Bandits” from previous seasons?
The top-ranked Frisco Fighters (4-0) edged the Shock 36-33 in a fanless season opener at the Arena last month, a game that many players and coaches likened to a scrimmage because of the atmosphere.
After three straight games on the road against teams that had fans in their venues, things begin to return to normal for the Shock.
Poole, Green lead No. 1 defense: The Shock are surrendering a league-best 29.5 points a game thanks to the efforts of hard-hitting veteran defensive backs Cedric Poole and Mike Green.
Poole (33 tackles, two interceptions) and Green (33 tackles, two forced fumbles) are tied for second in the IFL at 8.3 tackles per game.
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