Jacksonville Sports Day

AFL: Preview of Rattlers vs Sharks

Photo by Matt Hinshaw/Arizona Rattlers

The Jacksonville Sharks look to bounce back Saturday against the Arizona Rattlers.

Saturday’s game will be the first of two meetings that Jacksonville (1-2) will have to see an undefeated Arizona squad (3-0) who has the number one offense and defense in the league thus far.

The Sharks were neck and neck with the Predators in Monday’s contest, but fell just short of a win after a score by Greg Carr with 19 seconds left gave the Predators a late lead. Neither team was able to hold more than a two-score lead, but Orlando (3-0) was able to pull ahead.

Even with the absence of London Crawford, the receiving core for the Sharks seemed unstoppable with Tommy Grady firing to the three for at least seven receptions. Grady went 29 for 40 and threw 289 yards for four touchdowns and now leads the league in passing yards with 894.

Joe “Superman” Hills continues to be a menace to contain recording 11 receptions for 124 yards putting him at a league leading 429 yards. Roger Jackson proved to be a reliable weapon with 10 catches for 87 yards. Tiger Jones completed the superhero trio with seven receptions and 69 yards.

The Sharks’ defensive also proved to be pretty impressive, but just wasn’t able to stop Orlando on the last drive that proved to be costly. Alvin Ray Jackson was a beast for the defense recording one interception and two fumble recoveries, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

Greg Reid recorded an interception of his own and paired it with a Sharks leading six tackles. The two interceptions were the first interceptions thrown by Predators’ Randy Hippeard this season. The Sharks also added on two sacks, but were unable to stop the Predators on fourth downs having no turnover on downs.

Jacksonville’s special team unit was unable to stop Orlando’s returns off of kicks. Brandon Thompkins had five returns totaling 110 yards. Thompkins was also able to grab a missed field goal and return a 54-yard touchdown before the end of the half. Marco Capozzoli converted six of seven extra points and missed the costly field goal that was a turning point of the game.

The Sharks hope to recover and will stay in Jacksonville for this week’s contest against the Rattlers. Jacksonville will look to maintain the lead and keep the tempo of the game in their favor.

Arizona’s offense is ranked number one in the league behind their quarterback, Nick Davila, who has yet to throw an interception this season and is second in scores with 17.

Running Back Mykel Benson is second in the league in yards with 45 and his six touchdowns is tied for first in the AFL. Rod Windsor leads the league with his 12 touchdown receptions. The unit as a whole has the least amount of penalties in the league and runs an extremely high octane offense.

The Rattlers’ defense has been an offensive nightmare with opposing teams only scoring 83 points thus far. The team has recorded a league leading 10 sacks, four of which recorded by the league sack leader, Luis Vasquez. Arizona’s six interceptions leads the league and the team’s three fumble recoveries is tied for first.

Though the Rattlers appear to be a challenge for the Sharks, Jacksonville is sure to make a stand. The main focus for the Sharks will be maintaining the momentum. The Sharks have led or been tied with each team at the half this season, but are 59-67 in the second half. The team will surely look at the second half woes and come up with a win this Saturday.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. for Saturday’s game against the Ratters.

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