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Spokane Shock notebook: Slow-starting Jordan Jolly’s emergence adds to explosive group of receivers

UPDATED: Tue., June 22, 2021

Spokane Shock wide receiver Jordan Jolly (4) prepares for a IFL game against the Frisco Fighters on Sat. May 15, 2021 at Spokane Arena in Spokane WA.   (James Snook/For The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Shock wide receiver Jordan Jolly (4) prepares for a IFL game against the Frisco Fighters on Sat. May 15, 2021 at Spokane Arena in Spokane WA.  (James Snook/For The Spokesman-Review)

Between the doldrums of the pandemic shutdown and the inherent distractions that come with fatherhood, Spokane Shock receiver Jordan Jolly was out of shape when he reported to training camp in April.

Jolly, one of the top receivers in indoor football throughout his career, started slowly as he worked his way back into form.

He totaled eight catches for 68 yards and one touchdown in the Shock’s first four games.

Shock head coach Billy Back, who had immense success with Jolly with the Carolina Cobras, Wichita Nighthawks, Nashville Venom and Texas Revolution, wasn’t pleased.

“We need a big game from him,” Back said of Jolly after a recent road win. “He hasn’t played to his ability.”

Jolly, who had a record-breaking 1,204 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns in his previous season at Carolina, must have overheard his coach.

The 29-year-old Houston native hauled in seven passes for 88 yards and three touchdowns for the second-ranked Shock (4-1) during Saturday’s 63-37 win over the Northern Arizona (0-5) Wranglers at the Arena. Jolly showed his speed, reeling in a 29-yard touchdown from longtime teammate Charles McCullum over the top of the defense on the Shock’s second drive.

On the first drive, McCullum, who is a sturdy 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, ran over a Wranglers defender before reaching the end zone.

“That guy … I’ve been waiting on him for weeks,” McCullum said of Jolly. “He finally showed up tonight and you see what he had to offer. That’s the Jordan Jolly I am accustomed to

“When he’s rolling like that, you get 60 points.”

McCullum had previously relied on receivers Kamrin Solomon and Troy Evans Jr., two of the Indoor Football League’s most electric receivers.

Now there appears to be a capable receiver trio to back the two-time IFL MVP quarterback and the versatile Dovante-Sapp Lynch (seven touchdowns in four games) coming out of the backfield.

Evans, who is on the cusp of breaking the IFL’s career all-purpose yards record, is confident.

“We pretty much have the best receiving corps in this league right now, and we’re just putting it together,” Evans said. “It was good see that camaraderie with (McCullum and Jolly) show on the field tonight.”

Jolly, 29, committed to the University of Houston before winning a national junior college championship at Navarro College in Texas.

He’s been an indoor football fixture since in the IFL, Arena Football League and the National Arena League.

“(Jolly) is still getting into shape. He is about 220 pounds, but his playing weight is about 210,” Back said. “He had a baby during the COVID (2020) season and put on some baby weight. Tonight was a small portion of what he can do.”

McCullum honored: McCullum completed 13 of 15 passes for 164 yards and five touchdowns Saturday. He also ran for a touchdown.

That effort helped him garner his second straight IFL Offensive Player of the Week nod.

Creating pressure: The Shock, who have the league’s top-ranked defense (31 points per game), had previously caused trouble without often disrupting quarterbacks in the backfield.

In Saturday’s win, the Shock had two sacks and three more tackles for a loss, yielding just 13 second-half points.

The Shock also forced two turnovers that led to touchdowns, including a Dante Holmes fumble recovery and a Dominick Sanders interception.

Petre at the top: Shock kicker Sawyer Petre leads the IFL in made field goals, connecting on eight of 12 attempts.

Rattlers on deck: The Shock face one of the most talented, tradition-rich teams on the road Friday when they face the Arizona Rattlers (4-1). The third-ranked Rattlers have the IFL’s top-ranked offense (46 ppg) and third-ranked defense (34 ppg).

Both the Shock (50-32) and the Rattlers (50-46) beat defending IFL champion Sioux Falls on the road this season.

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