JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville Sharks (4-8) head to the Big Easy this week for a matchup against the New Orleans VooDoo (2-10) on Saturday, June 21. Kickoff from Smoothie King Center in New Orleans is set for 8:00 p.m., as the game will air live on AM 600 WBOB, as well as online via ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app for mobile devices.
This is the first of two meetings between the Sharks and VooDoo this season, as Jacksonville holds a 5-1 edge in the all-time series between the two squads. The Sharks swept the VooDoo in 2013, most recently capturing a 58-49 road win in Week 18 of that campaign. Jacksonville enters this week in a must-win situation, as the Sharks are currently two-and-a-half games behind the Tampa Bay Storm (7-6) for the fourth and final playoff spot in the American Conference.
The Sharks had a long weekend to regroup following a 58-48 defeat at the hands of the Orlando Predators last Thursday night. In that game, the Sharks held a 27-14 lead midway through the second quarter, but fell behind by a point at halftime and could not recover. This week, Coach Moss and his squad will focus on building on whatever momentum they can capture during the early stages of the game.
Though the Sharks’ offense averages 50.8 points per game, the team has not hit the 50-mark in each of the last three contests. While quarterback R.J. Archer continues to protect the football well – having thrown 35 touchdowns against just two interceptions in the last six games – against Orlando, the Sharks came up empty on both their final possession of the first half and a crucial drive in the third quarter. Jacksonville will aim to take advantage of every opportunity this week against a New Orleans defense that ranks second-to-last with an average of 58.7 points allowed per game.
Jacksonville hopes to get another strong performance from recent addition Maurice Williams. After factoring in mostly on special teams in his Shark debut two weeks ago, the third-year veteran racked up 199 yards and three touchdowns on his 12 receptions against the Predators, coming up just 11 yards short of tying the single-game franchise record. With a re-tooled receiving corps that now features three rookies, Archer and the Sharks will rely on Williams and fellow veteran Jomo Wilson to use their experience to impact the game.
The Sharks’ offense must be wary of a pair of potent playmakers on the other side of the ball, as VooDoo defensive end Mike Alston has racked up nine sacks this season, while defensive back Cameron McGlenn leads the way with eight interceptions.
While the New Orleans defense features a number of veteran playmakers, the VooDoo offense has struggled to find its feet this season. Injuries have not helped matters, as the two quarterbacks who began the season with the team – Kurt Rocco and Ryan Perrilloux – are currently on injured reserve. In their absence, New Orleans head coach Pat O’Hara has turned to rookie Adam Kennedy, who completed 20-of-36 passes for 224 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in his AFL debut against the Cleveland Gladiators last week.
In addition to the transition at quarterback, leading receiver L.J. Castile was recently placed on the “league suspension” list as he works with a team in another league. Castile had accounted for 26 of the VooDoo’s 54 touchdown receptions this season. Without Castile in the fold, New Orleans hopes to get an impact from wideout Larry Beavers, who is the League’s reigning J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Week after he returned two kicks for touchdowns and racked up over 300 all-purpose yards against Cleveland.
Though Beavers is certainly a dangerous weapon, Jacksonville’s veteran defense will look to capitalize on New Orleans’ inexperience on offense. One of the Sharks’ newest additions to the front four has proven to be a force, as nose guard James McClinton has racked up at least one sack in each of the last two weeks. If McClinton is able to continue to generate pressure up the middle, it will make life difficult for New Orleans’ inexperienced signal caller.
After Saturday’s game, the Sharks return home to face the Pittsburgh Power on Sea Best Field on Saturday, June 28. Kickoff for “Halloween in June” is set for 7:00 p.m.
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and four-time South Division Champions are presented by Sea Best Seafood and play all home games on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Season Tickets for the 2015 season are now available, two tickets for as low as $99. To purchase your season tickets or for more information, please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.
About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. The ESPN family of networks and CBS Sports Network will nationally broadcast AFL games each week for the entire season. The AFL schedule then culminates with the ArenaBowl Championship game live on ESPN.