Arena Cup 10 NO. 1 SPOKANE SHOCK (18-1) VS NO. 1 WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PIONEERS
2009 ArenaCup Championship Preview: Spokane vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
2009 ARENACUP CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
NO. 1 SPOKANE SHOCK (18-1), presented by Women ExtenZe
VS. NO. 1 WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PIONEERS (16-3), presented by ExtenZe
SATURDAY, AUGUST 22, 2009 - Orleans Arena (7,071) 7:00 P.M. PT, 10:00 P.M. ET
It's only fitting that the top two teams during the 2009 season face off Saturday night in the ArenaCup Championship. The National Conference Champion Spokane Shock earned their way to the title game with home playoff wins against Stockton, Boise and Central Division Champion Tulsa last Saturday. The American Conference Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers made their way to the final with home victories over Albany, Kentucky and Green Bay. The Shock, who earned their third trip to the ArenaCup in the team's four-year history, were led by QB NICK DAVILA. Davila accounted for seven total touchdowns (6 - passing, 1 - rushing) while WRs MARKEE WHITE (3 TD catches) and ANDY OLSON (12-105-2 TDs) also contributed in the win. DBs STANLEY FRANKS (9.5 tackles) and VIRGIL GRAY (8 solo tackles, 1 pass breakup) paced the club on defense. Other players to watch for Spokane include Russell Athletic Lineman of the Year BEN MCCOMBS (league-high 15.5 sacks), LB KEVIN MCCULLOUGH (10 INTs, 70 tackles), DB SERGIO GILLIAM (team-best 13 INTs) and WR/KR RAUL VIJIL. Vijil has been with the Shock since the team's inaugural season in 2006. This year he led team in scoring (240 points), total TDs (40), receiving (116-1415-36 TDs), kick returns (1,264 total; 1119 kickoff, 145 missed field goal) and all-purpose yards (2,682). He is also the only Shock player left over from 2006 ArenaCup Championship squad. Spokane is led by Head Coach ADAM SHACKLEFORD. Shackleford owns a 48-8 overall record (.857 winning percentage) in his three-year tenure with the club, including a 6-2 mark in the playoffs. The Shock are hoping for a result more like 2006 when they won the league title and less like last year's runner-up result. The Pioneers, who earned their second trip to the ArenaCup in the last three years, were led in last week's win by QB RYAN VENA. Vena accounted for nine total touchdowns (8 - passing, 1 - rushing) and completed 15-of-19 passes for 331 yards. WRs RICH MUSINSKI (5-128-4 TDs) and J.J. OUTLAW (5-116-2 TDs) were also top offensive performers on the night. DB LABROSE HEDGEMON led the club on defense with eight solo tackles. Vena earned his third straight All-af2 First Team honor in 2009. Other players to watch for the Pioneers include FB KIRBY GRIFFIN (318 yards rushing, 18 rush TDs - both team-highs), DL JUSTIN PARRISH (team-best 14 tackles for loss; 11 sacks) and DB MICHEAUX ROBINSON. Robinson was named the af2 Defensive Player of the Year with a league-best 14 INTs and 49 passes defended (35 pass breakups, 14 INTs). The Pioneers are led by coach RICH INGOLD. Currently in his fourth year with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (7th overall), Ingold is the winningest coach in league history with a career record of 91-33. This is just the second time in ArenaCup history that two teams that met during the regular season will meet again in the championship. The only other time came in the league's first season (2000) when the Quad City Steamwheelers defeated the Tennessee Valley Vipers in the regular season and in the title game. The Shock and Pioneers played once during the regular season six weeks ago in Spokane. The Shock won that contest in a thrilling, come-from-behind fashion, 56-52 (WK16). These two talented teams are guaranteed to put on a show in this year's ArenaCup.