03/30/2016 5:38 PM
JACKSONVILLE - The Jacksonville Sharks open the 2016 season at Honda Center this weekend in Anaheim, CA, squaring off against the LA KISS on Saturday, April 2, at 9:00 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live to a national audience on ESPN2, and will also be available to stream live via the WatchESPN app. Fans may go to jaxsharks.com/fanzone/espn3/ to tune in to Saturdays game.
The season opener will be the first time that Jacksonville (0-0) has the opportunity to test out their new weapons against the LA KISS (0-0). Under head coach Les Moss, and his staff, the team has reloaded with a lineup featuring 14 returning veterans and 10 new members. Along with new faces on the roster, the Sharks revealed new jerseys and helmets at Tuesday media day at Sea Best Field at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
Tommy Grady will take the reins under center in his second season with the Sharks. Last year, Grady recorded 4660 yards and 95 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, helping lead the team to an American Conference Championship and an appearance in ArenaBowl XXVIII.
The Sharks’ elite receiving corps features returning starters Tiger Jones, Joe Hills and London Crawford. The Sharks will also incorporate a new weapon at wide receiver Roger Jackson, who spent 2015 with the New Orleans VooDoo. Last season Jones, Hills and Crawford combined for 339 receptions, 85 touchdowns and 4,040 yards. Jones led the League in receiving yards with 2,087 and Hills led the team with 150 catches and 42 touchdowns.
The wall surrounding Grady seems nearly impenetrable with Duke Robinson joining Mo Ruffins, Ray McNeil, Cornelius Lewis and Jason Holman in this season’s offensive line. The Sharks return each starter from a pass-protection unit that allowed just eight sacks a season ago. In the backfield is 2015 rushing leader Derrick Ross at fullback who led the league in rushing touchdowns with 33, recording at least 32 touchdowns in each of his five AFL seasons.
ArenaBowl XXVIII Champion and Defensive Player of the Game David Hyland joins the defense to add to the Sharks talented secondary which features 2015 AFL Rookie of the Year Greg Reid, 2015 First Team All-Arena Jack linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson, and fellow veterans Laroche Jackson and Micheaux Robinson.
Though 2015 Defensive Lineman of the Year, Joe Sykes, is still contemplating retirement and has not yet reported to the team, Jacksonville has revamped its pass rush with Dexter Jackson, Khreem Smith, Laith Wallschleger, Antron DIllon, Anthony DeGrate, Chucky Hunter and Mark Weivoda.
On the other side, the KISS aim for a turnaround after missing the playoffs in the 2015 season, going 4-14. The KISS bring on seven-time ArenaBowl champion Omarr Smith as the new head coach after he assisted the SaberCats in the team’s ArenaBowl championship run last season as the assistant head coach.
The KISS’ success hinges on the success of the new quarterback, Nathan Stanley, who is already accustomed to the coaching style of head coach Smith. The team also added in receivers DJ Stephens, Brandon Collins and Amarri Jackson to provide Stanley with support.
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 2016 season are now available, two tickets as low as $99. To reserve 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.