Members of the Spokane Shock swiftly recognized a few of the names on the Massachusetts Pirates deep and talented roster.
When the reborn Indoor Football League franchise faces the Pirates 2,730 miles away from the Spokane Arena on Saturday, it will get even more acquainted.
The Pirates (2-1), who host the Shock (0-1) for a 4:05 p.m. start at the DCU Center to be broadcast on YouTube, feature former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant, who totaled 145 receptions for 2,183 yards in his NFL career.
There’s also former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams, whose NFL career included 232 receptions for 3,377 yards and 20 touchdowns.
The Pirates, coached by former New England Patriots running back Patrick Pass, have played more games than the Shock and will have fans on Saturday, something Spokane’s team didn’t have last week in a 36-33 loss to the Frisco Fighters.
“They’re athletic. Loaded with former NFL and big-time college guys,” Shock coach Billy Back said. “They have a great defensive line. We have to play smart as opposed to stupid penalties and turnovers we had last week.”
Spokane had nine penalties, two turnovers and several other first-game miscues against Frisco, a game it nearly won until running back Demarcus Felton scored with 10 seconds lift to sink the Shock.
The Shock looks to get back into the win column against a Pirates team led by quarterback Alejandro Bennifield (Tennessee-Chattanooga), who has 14 total touchdowns (seven rushing, seven passing.
On the ground, the Pirates go to former Texas Tech running back Justin Stockton, who has averaged 49.7 yards per game in wins against the Louisville Extreme (49-18) Bismarck Bucks (38-16) and a loss against the Green Bay Blizzard (40-36).
Thomas Owens (Florida International) and Williams are two of Bennifield’s primary targets, combining for 395 yards.
The Pirates are surrendering just 23 points a game.
“We’re playing a great team and have to bring our ‘A’ game,” Back said.
Charles McCullum, a two-time IFL MVP, completed 18 of 31 passes for 141 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and also ran for a touchdown last week in his Shock debut.
The Shock were paced on the ground by Marshawn Lynch’s younger brother, Davonte Sapp-Lynch, who had 11 carries for 49 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Kamrin Solomon (six receptions, 61 yards) and Troy Evans were two of McCullum’s favorite targets.
Former Washington State receivers Tavares Martin Jr. and Kyrin Priester were added to the Shock’s active roster this week after sitting out with injuries. Martin was on the Pirates’ roster in 2019.
“We need to get off to a fast start,” Back said.
“Shock teams of the past often started off 3-0 or 4-0, so 0-2 is the last thing we want.
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