08/03/2016 11:29 AM -
JACKSONVILLE - The Jacksonville Sharks begin the postseason this Saturday, August 6, going up against their in-state rival, the Orlando Predators. Kickoff is set at 7:00 p.m. at Amway Center.
Saturday’s game will be the fourth time the Jacksonville Sharks (7-9) see the Orlando Predators (12-4) with the Sharks trailing the series 1-2. Each game between the Florida rivals have been close with all being decided in the fourth quarter and both teams 10 or less points away from the other. With all three previous games being nail biters, this contest is sure to have the spotlight of the first round. Last year in the postseason, the Sharks were able to steal a win at Amway Center to advance to Philadelphia for the conference final. The winner of this game will play the Philadelphia Soul or the Tampa Bay Storm.
The Sharks come into the postseason on a two-game winning streak. Last week, Jacksonville dominated the Tampa Bay Storm winning 54-35. The offense pushed for an impressive 19 first downs and completed all three fourth-down conversions. Throughout the contest, the Sharks were efficient scoring on all but one play which resulted in a turnover.
Tommy Grady finished the game with an impressive eight touchdowns and 254 yards with no turnovers. This game would solidify Grady as the most efficient signal caller in the league leading in interceptions (7), yards (4495) and completions (400). Grady wouldn’t be the only one with a huge night as Joe Hills would break 2,000 yards this season. Hills dominated all wide receivers this year with over 400 more yards receiving and 10 more touchdowns than Rod Windsor who was second in the league. With Grady under center with a medley of receivers at his disposal, the Sharks offense is looking to continue their run in the postseason.
Jacksonville’s defense has gone two weeks recording two sacks. The defensive line put enormous amounts of pressure on Tampa Bay Quarterback Jason Boltus resulting in a 17-for-36 completion rating. The Sharks have been fortunate in the variety of defensive backs which changes game plans for opposing teams and keeps offenses on their heels. David Hyland, Keon Lyn and Greg Reid all stopped Boltus on huge fourth down conversions which could have been momentum changers.
On the other side, the Predators start Bernard Morris, a mobile signal caller who leads the Predators and is fifth in the league in rushing. The Sharks have had difficulty defending against scrambling quarterbacks and will need to apply the pressure on the line quickly to set the tone. Through the air, Brandon Thompkins has caused problems with his speed for defenses all season long listing third in the league.
The Predators have been able to play with no weakness on the defensive side doing fairly well on the defensive line and the secondary. Varmah Sonie is second in the league in tackles (98) and with Paul Stephens are third in the league in interceptions (combined 12). Thompkins again shows problems as the league leader in kick returns and will put immediate pressure on the Sharks special teams.
The Sharks have a tough first round matchup ahead going to Orlando, but have shown competitiveness the last two weeks under new head coach Bob Landsee. With the team playing to its highest caliber, the Sharks favor to win this matchup especially with Orlando coming off of a loss last week against Philadelphia.
The Sharks enter the postseason on back-to-back wins and hope to continue their streak in Orlando. Saturday’s kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.
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 2017 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.