04/13/2016 12:22 PM
JACKSONVILLE - The Jacksonville Sharks look for a second straight win as the team will open up its 2016 home slate against the in-state rival Orlando Predators on Monday, April 18. Kickoff for “Redneck Night” at Sea Best Field is set for 7:00 p.m.
Monday’s game will be the first of three meetings between Jacksonville (1-1) and Orlando (2-0) this season. The Predators took two of the three regular-season matchups a year ago, but the Sharks won when it mattered most, defeating Orlando by a 55-33 count in the opening round of the playoffs.
Last week, the Sharks fired on all cylinders, never trailing en route to a 59-41 victory over the Philadelphia Soul. The game remained close into the third quarter before Jacksonville broke it open by scoring 24 consecutive points.
Tommy Grady was a nightmare for the Soul defense throwing an impressive 21 completions for 326 yards and seven touchdowns with no turnovers. With his dominant performance, Grady became the league leader in passing yards with 605 total yards in two games. Grady’s chemistry with Joe Hills, continued this week, as they connected for nine receptions for 154 yards and four touchdowns. Hills maintained his spot atop the league leaderboard with 305 yards on the season so far. A key factor in Grady and Hills’ performance was the play offensive line, which did not allow a sack for a second straight week.
The Sharks’ defensive unit looked stellar against the Soul, collecting an impressive four turnovers with three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Greg Reid led the Sharks with his 10 tackles, two key interceptions and forcing one fumble that kept the momentum in the team’s favor. At one point, the Sharks forced a turnover on three straight Philadelphia possessions.
Jacksonville’s special teams unit also operated in smooth fashion last time out, as Marco Capozzoli connected on all extra points and hit a 26-yard field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
This week, the face a Predator team which ranks second in the league in both scoring offense and defense. The Predators come to Sea Best Field after a close win against the Portland Steel at Amway Center last Saturday night. Orlando took a late lead on a rushing touchdown by quarterback Randy Hippeard with 26 seconds left before Kent Richardson’s interception sealed a Predator victory.
In his second season with Orlando, Hippeard leads the league with 12 passing touchdowns and has proven to be accurate, completing 34 of his 58 attempts with no interceptions. He connected with each of his three main receivers at least four times and each had a receiving touchdown. With two rushing touchdowns as well, Hippeard will need to be shut down in order to keep the Sharks in the game.
The Predators defense is tied for third in the league in interceptions and has opened the season with back-to-back solid performances. A new addition to the Orlando squad this season, defensive back Varmah Sonie is third in the league with 14.5 tackles and has recorded a pair of picks.
The Sharks’ main focus this week will be to keep the defensive unit strong and give the offense help in controlling the tempo of the game. If the Sharks continue their success on the defensive side, the team will give itself a good chance to come out with a win against the in-state rival Predators.
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.