ST. JOHNS COUNTY, FL - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks conducted another full-contact practice on Wednesday morning, the third such workout in as many days held at Plantation Park in St. Johns County.
Early-morning fog broke shortly after the start of practice as temperatures rose into the 80s in the second half of the session. After two days of cooler weather, Wednesday’s heat gave the Sharks an important conditioning test throughout what was a grueling team session.
Yet again, the team portion of practice was a spirited competition between offense and defense. Despite the intensity prior to the whistle, players on both sides could be seen giving each other tips and suggestions during breaks in the action. In particular, rookie defensive lineman Billy Harrison appeared to go in depth with members of the Sharks’ offensive line following a drill.
Leading up to this weekend’s preseason scrimmage, the Sharks’ coaching staff emphasized the need to keep focus. With an off day on tap for Thursday, proper treatment and body maintenance will be key as well.
An Eye on the Defensive Line
If the Jacksonville Sharks want to defend their ArenaBowl XXIV title, they'll need to see production from a defensive line that recorded 36 sacks last year. With almost half of last year's total sacks coming from Derrick Summers and Jason Holman, the two returning lineman for this season, line coach Brian Ferguson is encouraged to see the pair sharing their knowledge and working with the rookies.
"Summers has taken on a great role with helping out the defensive ends," Ferguson said. "Arena football is different than college football or the outdoor game as far as the stances and starts and Summers has done a great job helping the young guys. Holman has done the same with the nose guards."
Two new linemen, Johnny Dingle and Scooter Berry, were college teammates at West Virginia. Both played on the defensive line at WVU, but Berry recognizes the change in pace from NCAA to the Arena Football League.
"The biggest difference is speed," Berry said. "Growing up I wasn't always the fastest kid, but I was always quick. I didn't know what to expect here, it's so fast, but I like it."
With just two returners, the competition to earn a starting spot is going strong. Heading into the preseason game against New Orleans on Saturday, Ferguson knows what he wants to see from his group.
"I want to see four guys working together as a unit," Ferguson said. "There's no individual and we didn't do that last year. The best four guys who can get the best production is what I'm looking for. There's no superstar in this game. I want four guys working together, knowing where they're supposed to be on certain plays and performing their job."
Finding four brutes to work together shouldn't be difficult for Ferguson, as the group has worked hard through the first part of camp and jelled well.
"It's been competitive," Holman said. "When you bring young guys we're all competing for a job. Everybody's learning, everybody's getting better each day and that's all you can ask."
Following Wednesday’s practice, the Sharks announced that WR Jason Harmon and OL Vernard West have been assigned to the 2012 roster.
The 25-year-old Harmon (6’2”, 215) played at Florida Atlantic, leading the Owls with 48 receptions for 649 yards and six touchdowns as a senior in 2009. West (6’4,” 310), 24, is a Gainesville native who graduated from Bethune-Cookman.
The Sharks will not practice on Thursday, a much-needed day off after three straight days of hard hitting. The team returns to Plantation Park on Friday for their final tune-up before Saturday afternoon’s preseason scrimmage against the VooDoo. Friday’s practice will be open to the public and is set to begin at 8:30 a.m.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, FL – After Thursday’s day off, the ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks got back to work Friday morning at Plantation Park in St. Johns County. Friday’s practice served as the team’s final tune-up before its preseason matchup with the New Orleans VooDoo on Saturday.
To a man, each member of the Sharks’ roster is looking forward to facing a different-colored jersey.
“It’s an exciting time to be playing football,” quarterback Chris Leak said. “Everybody’s starting to gel and get some continuity. It’s been a lot of fun for all of us – coaches, players. So we’re just really excited and looking forward to playing a great game against a great team.”
Players and coaches alike are pleased with the progress the team has made throughout the first week and a half of camp. However, they know there is still work to be done. Saturday’s contest will be a good measuring stick to see how this year’s roster stacks up against another Arena Football League team.
“You always want to put what you’ve been working on, on the field in a game situation because anytime they’re keeping score you want to win,” Leak said. “I think you want to play well regardless. We have an expectation here in Jacksonville. Every step counts towards a championship and this is the first step.”
While the offense is looking forward to putting points on the board Saturday, the defense has been chomping at the bit to hit somebody ever since camp started. While the practices are physical and demanding, the physicality is always tempered to a certain degree during training camp, as you are going up against your own teammates. The defense looks forward to that changing Saturday.
“It’s been a good physical camp,” linebacker Charles Hunt said. “That’s the tough part of defense in practice you’ve got to take it a little easier on the offensive guys but tomorrow we’ll actually hit somebody in a different jersey so that will be good.”
Hunt was a key member of a defense that ranked sixth in the AFL last year. With many defensive returners including Hunt, defensive backs LaRoche Jackson, JaVonte Holmes and Bill Alford, as well as defensive linemen Derrick Summers and Jason Holman, the Sharks are looking to improve that ranking this season.
With some new additions joining the returning core, the Sharks are anxious to see if they’ve added the right pieces to make those improvements. Saturday will be the team’s first chance to see those players in a game situation.
“We’ll get to see how physical a lot of these guys are and that’s the true measurement on defense, especially with our defense with [defensive coordinator Jake Grande],” Hunt said. “He’s all about physicality. We’ll just line up and try to prove that our guys are better then their guys.”
Leak Eager for First Taste of AFL Action
Saturday’s game against the New Orleans Voodoo will mark the first Arena Football game for some Sharks newcomers - including quarterback Chris Leak. Having played quarterback at the University of Florida and in both the National Football League and the Canadian Football League, Leak is excited to begin a new chapter in his storied career.
“You’re always anxious to go out there and play the game you love and have fun with your teammates,” Leak said. “It’s always a blessing and a joy to play this game; you can never forget that. Everyone doesn’t get to do what they want to do for a living. So we’re definitely blessed and we’re ready to bless others coming into the game. We’re excited for our fans, ready to have a good turnout, and win some ball games.”
About Saturday’s Scrimmage
Kickoff for Saturday’s preseason scrimmage is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Admission is free of charge, however fans are asked to bring a donation of non-perishable canned food that will be collected outside the arena on behalf of Second Harvest North Florida.
The two organizations will use the event to generate resources needed to feed the food-insecure households throughout the First Coast.
Season ticket holders may enter the arena beginning at 11:00 a.m. Gates will open at 11:30 a.m. for the general public.
The game will also serve as the first chance for season ticket holders to pick up their season tickets for the upcoming season, beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the Duval Room within the arena. Also, season ticket holders are invited to take part in a question and answer session with members of the Sharks management shortly after 9:00.
SHARKS FALL TO VOODOO IN PRESEASON SCRIMMAGE, 49-28
03/03/2012 4:15 PM
By Tim Bee, JaxSharks.com
JACKSONVILLE - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks came up short in the team’s first game action of 2012, losing 49-28, to the New Orleans VooDoo in the teams only preseason scrimmage this year, Saturday at Sea Best Field inside the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Sharks started off strong but falteres late, with New Orleans scoring the game’s final three touchdowns. The offense had trouble moving the ball in the second half and special teams made some costly mistakes throughout the game. Still the preseason scrimmage served its purpose, allowing head coach Les Moss and his coaching staff to evaluate the new talent, and see where his team is before they head to the regular season.
“I know the first half we moved the ball well,” Moss said. “Just a couple mistakes on that last drive and we would’ve scored on every possession. And then we’re looking at a lot of guy that haven’t played a lot of Arena Football in the second half. I thought our defense did some very good things. We had a couple stops that gave us a chance to win. We just weren’t able in the second half to do it offensively.”
Former Gator quarterback Chris Leak got the starting nod, playing the entire game in his Arena Football debut. Leak flashed at times, leading the Sharks offense to four touchdown drives on the afternoon. Leak threw two touchdowns in his first taste of Arena Football, including a 45-yard strike to rookie wide receiver Oliver Young midway through the second quarter.
One positive from Leak’s performance was his ability to spread the ball around to different receivers. Leak completed at least one pass to seven different receivers and had three receivers that caught at least four balls. Sean Mackey lead the way with six catches for 50-yards, while Terrance Smith finished with four grabs, including a 10-yard touchdown for the Sharks first score of the game. Smith also ran for a touchdown.
However, he also struggled down the stretch, showing that his adjustment to the Arena game is not quite complete. Leak finished the afternoon with 218 yards on 22-of-44 passing for two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“I feel great,” Leak said. “I know this is a transition period for me. It’s just great to get this experience. You can’t buy experience. Once I watch the film and go back and look at all the things fundaments, reads, footwork, it will all come together. We all are going to come back and learn from our mistakes and try to improve everyday.”
Special teams hurt the Sharks as VooDoo kick returner Skyler Green took the opening kickoff back 58 yards for a touchdown, giving New Orleans a 7-0 lead after just one play
However, the Sharks answered, scoring touchdowns on each of their first three possessions. The teams went into the locker rooms tied a 21-21 at halftime.
Special teams cost the Sharks again late in the fourth quarter. After a 3-yard touchdown run by New Orleans’ receiver Greg Ellingson, the Sharks muffed the ensuing kickoff that bounced of the net. The play resulted in a touchdown net recovery by VooDoo defensive back, Demarcus Robinson, giving New Orleans a 42-28 lead that they would never relinquish.
“We give up a kickoff for a touchdown, we give up a ball off the net for a touchdown, those things happen special teams wise in this game,” Moss said. “It’s kind of hard to recover from. That’s 14 points right there.”
The Sharks will hit the practice field Monday to begin their final week of training camp before entering the 2012 regular season. The team will enjoy a week one bye week before heading to Kansas City, Mo. to take on the Command on March 16 at 8:30 p.m.
VooDoo Defeat Defending ArenaBowl Champion Sharks In Scrimmage On Saturday
By: Brandon Rizzuto
NEW ORLEANS (March 3, 2012) – The New Orleans VooDoo defeated the defending ArenaBowl Champion Jacksonville Sharks, 49-28, in Saturday’s scrimmage at Sea Best Field, scoring the game’s final 28 points en route to victory.
The VooDoo were without a turnover in the game and forced three Shark mistakes. The VooDoo also did a good job of protecting the quarterback, yielding only one sack in the game, and also converted 3-of-5 third down attempts.
New Orleans also played next-to-perfect special teams with two touchdowns – a kickoff return and net recovery – while also converting all seven point-after-attempts.
“I am pleased with how hard our team played today. We avoided turnovers and forced a few,” said VooDoo head football coach Pat O’Hara. “We have a long way to go but we are on the right path.”
The VooDoo opened the game with a 58-yard kickoff return for a touchdown courtesy of Skyler Green. It was Green’s only kickoff return of the game as three other players received opportunities to return kicks in the scrimmage.
Jacksonville bounced back with consecutive scoring drives engineered by quarterback Chris Leak to take a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter before the VooDoo got its first offensive touchdown of the game with a 35-yard scoring strike from Kurt Rocco to Carlese Franklin to tie the game 14-14.
Rocco finished the game 5-of-9 for 79 yards and a touchdown, while Franklin checked out with 2 receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown.
The Sharks showed there explosiveness by scoring on the first play of its next offensive possession via a 45-yard touchdown pass from Leak to take the 21-14 lead with 11:20 left in the second quarter; however the VooDoo engaged in the seesaw battle with Brian Zbydniewski tossing a 22-yard touchdown to AFL-veteran Quorey Payne to even the game with 6:15 left in the first half.
Zbydniewski engineered the longest VooDoo drive of the game for the score, taking the offense 38 yards on seven plays while using 4:12 of game clock. Zbydniewski led all VooDoo passers with 171 yards and 3 touchdowns, completing 11-of-17 passes and his go-to receiver was Payne, who led all receivers with 125 yards and 2 touchdowns on 5 receptions. Payne also had a rushing touchdown in the win.
After halftime, the VooDoo defense limited the Sharks to just one second-half touchdown and scored the game’s final 28 points for the victory.
The VooDoo’s leading tackler was Demarcus Robinson with 7.5 total tackles (7 solo), a pass breakup and a special teams touchdown by recovering a kickoff of the net. Following him was Jorrick Calvin with 5.5 total tackles (4 solo) and a pass breakup.
Rookie Jeremy Kellem also had an outstanding arena football debut with 2 interceptions to go along with 3.5 total tackles (3 solo) and 0.5 stops for a loss.
The VooDoo will travel back to New Orleans on Sunday and resume training camp on Monday at the Alario Center.
Position Player Height Weight DOB College
CLAIMING OFF REASSIGNMENT #14
OL Folarin Ola 6'3 320 4/19/1988 Hampton
PLACING ON REFUSE TO REPORT
OL Eric Davis 6'2 305 9/22/1988 Eastern Michigan
PLACING ON REFUSE TO REPORT
FB/LB Aaron Robbins 6'3 295 7/16/1983 Wyoming
Last edited by josereyessteal; 03-04-2012 at 06:22 PM.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, FL - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks got back to work Monday, practicing at Plantation Park in St. Johns County. The practice was the team’s first workout since Saturday’s preseason scrimmage against the New Orleans VooDoo.
A number of new faces made their Arena Football League debuts Saturday for the Sharks. Of the current training camp roster, less then half of the players had played Arena Football before Saturday’s scrimmage. Despite the Sharks’ 49-28 loss, a number of newcomers made the best of their first AFL experience. Included in that group is a pair of rookie wide receivers in Oliver Young and Sean Mackey.
Young caught five passes for a team-high 84 yards and one 45-yard touchdown catch against the VooDoo. Mackey led the team in catches with six for 50 yards in his AFL debut. For a pair of receivers still looking to make the adjustment from the outdoor game to the indoor game, it was good for them to get their first game under their belt.
“It felt real good,” Mackey said. “It was my first my first game since college (Union KY) so it was a real good step for me. It was very different, especially with it being my first time on turf. I think I played good but I know I have a whole lot of things I got to work on.”
One thing Mackey wants to work on is to continue to develop chemistry with quarterbacks Chris Leak and Omar Jacobs, especially since Leak is also making the adjustment to Arena Football. With training camp winding down and the regular season coming soon, it will be important for the quarterbacks and receivers to continue to make strides.
“The chemistry is going good,” Mackey said. “Every receiver is getting our timing down.”
Woodson Gets First Taste
As is the case in the receiving corps, the Sharks’ secondary consists of a number of players who got their first Arena Football League game experience in Saturday’s scrimmage. One such player is former University of South Carolina corner Stoney Woodson.
In talking about his adjustment to the indoor game, Woodson emphasized that “football is football” no matter what size field it’s played on. Still, he admitted that there are some key differences between the two games that take getting used to.
“Learning game, it’s a little faster, a little less people on the field,” Woodson said. “Picking up the motion is different than in the other leagues because they’re coming full speed at you.”
The Sharks announced several transactions on Monday, as LB Aaron Robbins and OL Eric Davis have been activated from the refused to report list. The Sharks had acquired Davis from the Arizona Rattlers in exchange for future considerations on Friday.
In other transactions, LB/WR Charlie Hunt was placed on the physically unable to perform list while DL Elisee Pompilus, OL Vernard West and DL Arthur Thomas were placed on reassignment.
The Sharks return to the practice field on Tuesday morning for the second-to-last practice of training camp. Tuesday’s practice is scheduled to be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Plantation Park and is open to the public.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, FL - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks took to the practice field at Plantation Park on Tuesday morning for their second-to-last day of training camp.
The lively practice was full of hard hitting as each player makes the extra effort to prove his worth before the end of camp. The workout ended on a particularly spirited note, as the competition between wide receivers and defensive backs continues to build.
Over the last week, the Sharks have had a number of players join the roster in the midst of training camp. Two of those recent additions are veteran linebacker Aaron Robbins and offensive lineman Eric Davis.
Robbins returns to the Sharks after joining the team midway through the 2011 season, when he recorded 15 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries in seven regular-season games. Even though Robbins has stepped into camp late in the process, he's impressed with where the team is right now and knows he has work to do to fit in.
"I think the team looks great," Robbins said. "It was better than what I expected coming into today. I have some things to work on, knock the rust off, get my head back into it, a few little things I have to work on but it feels good to be back out here."
Robbins joined the Sharks in May of last year from the Spokane Shock and related that experience to where he stands this year.
"It's not too difficult," Robbins said of the transition. "It's one of those things I did last year, coming in halfway through the season. It's getting used to running plays, making reads at the same time. It's the things you're supposed to do right when you get back in, after a couple days I'll be alright."
Coming from the ArenaBowl XXIII Champion Shock, Robbins started in the Sharks' ArenaBowl XXIV victory and looks play a key role in helping Jacksonville defend its AFL title.
Another recent addition is Davis, who had been in training camp with the Arizona Rattlers before being acquired by the Sharks in exchange for future considerations.
Davis played college football at Eastern Michigan, starting at center in 32 games. Davis later participated in the St. Louis Rams’ 2011 training camp. Working closely with assistant coach Jerry Crafts over the last two days, Davis is learning the ins and outs of his new squad.
"It's kind of like being a freshman all over again," Davis said, harkening back to his EMU days. "You have to start back up and learn the offense. They're similar, but you still have to learn the nuances."
Crafts has only had a few days to get Davis up to speed. The coach related the experience to working with the offensive line overall.
"The key to that is just reps," Crafts said. "The more reps that we can get with the guys the better and that's part of what we're trying to do now."
Davis is just one of several offensive lineman entering their first season with the Sharks. In evaluating his young group, coach Crafts appreciates the hard work he's seen through camp so far.
"We have guys that are working hard. When you have a lot of young people, they're not afraid of the work," Crafts said.
Using last Saturday’s preseason scrimmage against New Orleans as a measuring point, Crafts is working with the line on recognizing the speed of the game. Crafts said that he was pleased with what he saw overall, but wants his unit to improve upon each practice.
"We did a decent job this weekend. It wasn't a bad outing for us at all, but we're just trying to get better. Every day we're getting better," he said.
Graves Catches On
Like Davis and Robbins, wide receiver Shamar Graves recently joined the Sharks, as he was claimed off reassignment by the team on Sunday. Listed at 6’3”, 245, Graves looks to use his large frame and deceptive speed to provide the Sharks’ offense with a valuable weapon.
"I use my size to shield off smaller defensive backs,” Graves said. “I'm quick; I used to be a wide receiver [before moving to tight end in college]. I just watch a lot of other receivers to see how they use their body, see how they use their arms away from the body. I just use everything to my advantage.”
Graves has been able to adapt to different roles in different offensive schemes throughout his career. At Rutgers, he lined up at both wide receiver and tight end. In training camps with the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins, he suited up in the backfield.
Then, in the United Football League, Graves transitioned back to a tight end in an University of Oregon-style spread offense. Now in Arena Football, Graves will look to make yet another adjustment to the smaller field and faster pace of the indoor game.
Overall, Graves is excited to be part of a defending championship squad.
"I'm learning a lot from these other receivers,” he said. "Seeing people working hard, wanting to get better, they have a championship mentality. It's the kind of environment I love."
The Sharks will conduct the final practice of training camp on Wednesday morning at Plantation Park in St. Johns County. Practice is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. and is open to the public.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, FL - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks held their third practice in as many days on Wednesday at Plantation Park in St. Johns County. Though the team is still technically in training camp through the end of this week, the focus will soon turn toward the March 16 regular-season opener in Kansas City.
As the regular season looms, head coach Les Moss said he was pleased with the way his team competed in training camp.
“The effort has been outstanding,” Moss said. “These guys have all worked hard together, been very professional. I couldn’t be happier with the effort we got out of them. We’ve had a very competitive camp.”
Now, the Sharks coaching staff must shoulder the responsibility of shaping the 35-man training camp roster into a 24-man roster for the regular season. With how competitive this year’s camp was, Moss and his coaching staff will have some difficult decisions to make.
This process is tough on players and coaches alike. Moss said the team bonds over the span of training camp, building camaraderie as if each player is going to be there the entire season. This makes it even more difficult when a player has to part ways with the teammates with whom he has spent the past two weeks.
“This is the worst time of the year really for coaches,” Moss said. “These guys will get other shots but they wanted to be here. It’s never fun, especially when you’re doing something you love.”
The defensive backfield serves as a perfect example of this process. Throughout training camp, veterans LaRoche Jackson, Bill Alford and JaVonte Holmes have competed with rookies T.J. Wright, Bryan Evans, Stoney Woodson and Daylan Walker, totaling seven players competing for a limited number of spots.
“I think they did pretty well,” defensive coordinator Jake Grande said of his defensive backs. “I think when you rebuild every year in Arena Football that’s kind of how it is. Every year you’re bringing new guys in trying to find new talent. So I think we’ve got a good crew overall on the whole team, not just secondary. So I think we’re pretty excited about it.”
Wide receiver Terrance Smith enters his second year with the Sharks, looking to have the same impact on offense as he did as part of the Sharks’ defense in 2011. Following Wednesday’s practice, Smith shared his thoughts on where the club stands at this point.
"I feel the team is in a good position right now," Smith said. "We're becoming a team and that's the main focus of training camp; becoming a team, becoming a unit and depending on each other. I like our position, we have some returning players from last year, some veterans at different positions. It feels good right now and I couldn't ask for a better group of guys."
Last year, Smith went through camp as a defensive back and recorded six interceptions during the regular season. This year, moving to wide receiver has given him a different perspective on the overall feel of training camp.
"The difference is last year I was a rookie and I didn't really understand. I was coming out of the NFL and thought I was hot but I didn't really know what to do in the game of Arena Football. So this year, it is different being on the offensive side of the ball. I understand what I did last year and understand the game of last year. The difference is the confidence I have," Smith said.
Even as a returner from last year's championship team, Smith recognizes that this time of year always brings nerves.
"Last year I thought I'd make the team, but I didn't have the sure fact that 'you're on the team,' so last year around this time I was very nervous and you can tell some of the guys are like that too. It's hard to have fun when there's too much pressure," Smith said. "It's just something that you have to do and we're just trying to get guys to have fun doing it."
A Unique Bye Week
The Arena Football League season officially kicks off this weekend, beginning Friday at 8 p.m. when the Orlando Predators welcome the Pittsburgh Power to the Amway Center.
However, the Sharks will have to wait another seven days to begin their title defense, as the team faces the unique situation of having a Week 1 bye week. Following Wednesday’s practice, Moss expressed mixed feelings about the early bye.
On one hand, it will give his team a little longer to come together and prepare, especially with several players added to the roster late in camp. With that said, it could hurt the Sharks down the road if injuries begin to mount.
Having never had a bye week to open the season, Moss said he doesn’t really know what to think about it.
“Only time will tell,” Moss said. “This is a new experience for me. When the schedule was announced I wasn’t happy about it. But maybe in the end I will be.”
Following Wednesday's practice, the Sharks announced that DL Johnny Dingle, DB Stoney Woodson and WR Jason Harmon have been placed on reassignment.
The team will have Thursday off, giving players a chance to rest before Friday’s practice at Glen Kernan Golf and Country Club. Friday morning’s practice will be closed to the public.
JACKSONVILLE - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks have concluded training camp, as the team conducted the final practice of camp on Friday morning at Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club in Jacksonville. The Sharks then had an off day on Saturday.
Each member of the Sharks has had a number of chances to impress the team’s coaching staff. Now, head coach Les Moss and his assistants must settle on the 24-man roster with which the Sharks will open the regular season.
Entering his second year with the team, defensive back LaRoche Jackson knows this stretch of the season is touch on each player, something he spoke about following Friday’s practice.
“That’s the bad part of this business,” he said. “You come in to camp, you meet good guys and get close to good guys. Maybe you become good friends with guys, and then having to see your friend leave because of the business side of the game.”
Jackson acknowledged that once game preparation begins, practices take on a bit of a different tone as the team is eager to get the regular season underway.
“Now we come to practice and everybody knows what’s expected, knows what Coach expects out of them,” he said. “We come to practice with everything we did in training camp and translate it into the regular season, go out and do our best in practice and try to get a victory next week.”
The Scoop on ‘Z’
This past offseason, the Sharks began their search for a new center to anchor their offensive line. Enter 320 pound lineman Zarah Yisrael, a candidate to fill the position who is no stranger to the indoor game. As center for the AF2's Rio Grande Valley Dorados, he helped his team to a 9-7 record and a postseason berth.
He's also no stranger to the city of Jacksonville. As a graduate of Terry Parker High School, Yisrael is excited to be back playing football in his hometown.
"It's pretty cool. I've gotten a warm reception from people from my high school because I'll go back there and train from time to time. A bunch of folks have contacted since coming back," said Yisrael.
Yisrael even credits Terry Parker's Wing-T offense for making him a better run blocking lineman, which he believes made it easier for him to pick up pass protection schemes at Iowa Wesleyan College, Troy University, and in his professional career.
"I'm a run blocking lineman first and a pass protection lineman next. I believe it's easy to teach a run blocking lineman to pass protect but not to teach a pass protecting lineman to run block."
As a guard at Troy University, Yisrael's physicality became well publicized throughout the scouting community. During his Pro Day workout, Yisrael bench-pressed 225 pounds a remarkable 48 times.
The current NFL combine record is 49 reps set last year by Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea.
After that impressive workout, Yisrael subsequently received training camp invites from the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New Orleans Saints. Later, he was drafted number one overall by Team Arkansas in the inaugural All American Football League Draft.
Now entering his first year in the Arena Football League, Yisrael believes has adapted well to his new team.
"Its funny, it's almost like my natural spot where I should be playing in the first place.”
The Sharks made one transaction on Friday, as V’keon Lacey was assigned to the 2012 roster. The 23-year-old Lacey played collegiate football at Angelo State University, where he caught 127 passes for 1,447 yards and 15 touchdowns.
On Saturday, the team made several transactions, announcing that OL Eddie Williams, WR Trey Williams, LB Frank Padilla and FB Andres Morales were placed on reassignment, LB Buster Davis and WR Oliver Young were placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list and WR/LB Charlie Hunt was transferred from the Physically Unable to Perform List to Injured Reserve.
The team hits the practice field on Sunday morning to begin their “game-week” preparation in advance of next Friday’s game in Kansas City. Sunday’s practice will be held at 9:30 a.m. at The Bolles School.
JACKSONVILLE - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks will open the 2012 regular season on the road, as the team travels to face the Kansas City Command on Friday, March 16 at Sprint Center. Friday’s game is set to kick off at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
After a day off on Saturday, the Sharks began the week of practice with a full-contact workout at the Bolles School in Jacksonville. The team will then practice at Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club for three consecutive days before traveling to Kansas City on Thursday.
A full weekly practice schedule is detailed below:
Sunday, March 11: 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. at the Bolles School
Monday, March 12: 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club
Tuesday, March 13: 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club
Wednesday, March 14: 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club
Friday’s game will not be televised but will air online via the Sharks’ official UStream channel, found at ustream.tv/JacksonvilleSharks. The Internet radio broadcast of Friday’s game will be streamed through I Heart Radio. Links to both broadcast feeds will be available at jaxsharks.com on the day of the game.
Though the Sharks have veteran leaders spread throughout the lineup, many of the team’s players will be making their regular-season AFL debuts on Friday. After Sunday’s practice, quarterback Omar Jacobs spoke about what the rookies can expect in their first game.
“Nothing can really prepare you for the arena game because it’s so fast, so quick,” Jacobs said. “The timing, the angles, it’s just a different game. A lot of new guys coming in see that it is different. It’s probably going to be a test - I know my first game was kind of difficult.”
Know Your Foe
The Kansas City Command enter their fifth active season in the Arena Football League. The team was known as the Brigade from 2006-08, returning to action in 2011 under a new moniker. In their first year competing as the Command, Kansas City finished the season with a 6-12 record that put them in fourth place in the Central Division.
The Sharks have faced the Command just once in franchise history, falling 49-48 in overtime at Sprint Center on July 15, 2011. The loss was the Sharks’ final defeat of 2011, as the team bounced back to defeat the Spokane Shock on the final weekend of the regular season before winning three consecutive playoff games en route to their ArenaBowl XXIV title.
Following Sunday’s practice, the Sharks announced that DL Rashaad Duncan has been activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list. In another roster move, DB Bryan Evans was placed on recallable reassignment.
The Jacksonville Sharks (1-0) overcame a quick start by the Kansas City Command (0-1), rattling off 38-unaswered points in the second half in a 52-28 victory on the road in front of 5,161 at Sprint Center to open the 2012 season.
The Sharks trailed 21-17 to start the second half before a more than 10 minute touchdown drive ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Terrance Smith. The undisciplined Command committed illegal defense, personal foul and illegal formation penalties to give Jacksonville automatic first downs each time and keep the drive alive.
From there it was all Sharks, as the Command's first play in the second half was a completed pass that was fumbled and recovered by Sharks' defensive back LaRoche Jackson. The Kansas City defense recorded two sacks on the ensuing drive, but Chris Leak completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Shamar Graves on 4th-and-26 for his second score of the night to increase the lead to 30-21.
The kickoff that opened the fourth quarter was fumbled into the end zone after a huge hit by the Sharks' coverage team and recovered by Kansas City for a safety. The Sharks' Jeron Harvey then caught his first touchdown of the season from nine yards out and the rout was on. Harvey scored again on the Sharks' next drive pushing the score to 45-21 with 8:22 remaining.
Not to be outdone, the Sharks' defense got on the board as Bill Alford returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown to cap Jacksonville's 38-consecutive point run. Kansas City finally scored on a 1-yard rush by quarterback Steven Gachette, who replaced starter Nate Davis after the interception.
Leak finished 21-for-31 for 196 yards, five touchdowns and one interception for the Sharks. Harvey was the leading receiver with 10 receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Graves also recorded two touchdown catches and Smith had receiving and rushing touchdowns.
Kansas City came out fast, scoring on the second play from scrimmage on a 36-yard pass from Davis to Christian Wise. Jacksonville responded with an 8-yard score from Leak to Graves to tie the game at 7-7. The Command scored again on their second play of their second drive to lead 14-7, before intercepting Leak in the red zone on the ensuing drive.
The Command led early but 12 penalties for 70 yards - three on the Sharks' long third quarter drive, put Kansas City in a bad position to hold the lead. Conversely, Jacksonville committed just two penalties for eight yards while possessing the ball for 37:27 of total game time.
The Sharks take to the field again at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 24 for their home opener at Sea Best field against the Georgia Force. It will be Championship Pride Night as the Sharks raise the banner commemorating their ArenaBowl XXIV victory.
Command Fall to Jacksonville in Season Opener
Posted on March 16, 2012 by nmccabe
The Kansas City Command (0-1) suffered its first loss of the 2012 Arena Football League season Friday night as the defending ArenaBowl champion Jacksonville Sharks (1-0) defeated the Command 52-28 in the season opener for both teams.
Command rookie quarterback Nate Davis came out strong in the opening half of his first AFL start, hitting 9 of 13 passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns and staking the Command to a 21-17 halftime lead.
However, in the second half, mistakes doomedKansas Cityas three turnovers and numerous penalties helped Jacksonville score the first 35 points of the third quarter.
Kansas City started off the game with touchdown on the game’s second play as Davis would found receiver Christian Wise for a 36-yard scoring strike less than 90 seconds into the game.
Jacksonville responded in the ensuing possession, as rookie quarterback Chris Leak would lead a four-play, 41-yard drive to tie the game at seven.
After another Davis touchdown to put the Command up by seven, defensive back Sergio Gilliam forced the first turnover of the game with a red zone interception on the Command three-yard line. The offense forKansas City was unable to capitalize for a two-score lead, instead settling for a long field goal attempt from kicker Gary Cismensia that missed wide left.
Leak would subsequently knot the game up at 14 with a 27-yard pass to receiver Terrance Smith at 9:25.
It did not take long for Davis and the Command offense to get the lead back. In a three-play, 39-yard drive, Davis would find Wise in the end zone again, this time on a 22-yard juggling catch for the receiver’s second touchdown of the night. The Sharks tried to rally before halftime, but the Command defense held them out of the end zone, forcing the defending champs to settle for a 26-yard field goal.
Jacksonville began the second half down, 21-17. Several penalties aided a 13-play, 45-yard Sharks touchdown drive that took over 11 minutes off the third quarter clock by the time the extra point sailed through for Jacksonville’s first lead of the night.
Momentum was decidedly on Jacksonville’s side after a Christian Wise fumble on the first play of the ensuing possession gave the Sharks the ball at the Command 14-yard line. The turnover proved to be costly, as the Sharks would convert a 4th and 21 situation into a 30-yard touchdown pass to receiver Shamar Graves.
On the ensuing kickoff, Wise coughed up his second fumble of the night from a hit inside theKansas City five-yard line. Kansas City recovered following a scrum in the back of the end zone but it was a safety and two more points forJacksonville. Leak and the Sharks offense made the Command pay on the in three plays capped by a nine-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jeron Harvey. The score would put the Command down 39-21 with 12:32 left in the game.
Another Harvey score and a Bill Alford interception of a Davis pass for a touchdown gave the Sharks 35 straight points.
Jacksonville’s streak would finally be snapped at the 2:12 mark of the fourth quarter off of a one-yard draw by Command back-up quarterback Steven Gachette. While Kansas City never quit, the self-inflicted wounds were just too much to overcome.
The loss places the Command a game behind in the AFL’s Central Division, as Chicago, Iowa, and San Antonio all were victorious in their opening games.
Next up for Kansas City is a road trip to Cleveland to face the 2011 Eastern Division Champion Gladiators on Monday, March 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (CDT).
JACKSONVILLE - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks have begun preparation for the team’s home opener against the Georgia Force this Saturday, March 24 on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Kickoff for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
After a weekend of travel and rest, the Sharks will practice on four consecutive days from Tuesday through Friday. The team will use the sessions to build on last Friday’s season-opening 52-28 win over the Kansas City Command.
A full weekly practice schedule is detailed below (start and end times are approximate):
Tuesday, March 20: 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. at Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club
Wednesday, March 21: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club
Thursday, March 22: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club
Friday, March 23: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club
Saturday’s game marks the Sharks’ first television broadcast of 2012, as the game is set to air locally on CW17. The game will also be broadcast online via the Sharks’ official UStream channel, found at ustream.tv/JacksonvilleSharks. The Internet radio broadcast of Saturday’s game will be streamed through I Heart Radio. Links to both broadcast feeds will be available at jaxsharks.com on the day of the game.
Wrapping Up Last Week
The Sharks’ 52-28 victory over the Command was keyed by a string of 38 consecutive points scored by Jacksonville between the second and fourth quarters of the game. Key in that stretch was the second-half play of Jacksonville’s defense, which scored twice and forced a pair of second-half turnovers.
Thanks in large part to the offense’s 10-plus-minute drive to open the third quarter, Jacksonville allowed Kansas City to run just one offensive play in the entire third quarter – one that resulted in a fumble. The Sharks then forced a safety the only other time that the Command touched the ball in that third quarter.
Overall, the 28 points allowed by the Sharks is the third-lowest single-game total that the team has given up in franchise history. The team’s record low is 20, set against Bossier-Shreveport in 2010. The Sharks also allowed just 27 points against the Iowa Barnstormers last season.
Know Your Foe
The Georgia Force enter this week’s action with a record of 1-1. Each of the Force’s two games this season have been decided by three points or less. First, the team held serve at home in their season opener, defeating the Cleveland Gladiators by a score of 41-39. Georgia then fell to the Tampa Bay Storm this past weekend, 50-47.
The Force feature several familiar faces from last year’s team, as kick returner C.J. Johnson and wide receiver Larry Shipp have already made a significant impact in 2012. One notable name missing from the 2012 edition of the Force is that of Maurie Purify, the reigning AFL rookie of the year who now plays for the Arizona Rattlers.
Georgia did not compete in the Arena Football League in 2010. To this point, the Sharks have had success against this divisional foe. Jacksonville won both regular-season meetings last season before taking down the Force in the American Conference Championship Game en route to ArenaBowl XXIV.