Week 9 Preview: Sharks vs. Cobras
Must Win game for Jacksonville to Hold 4th Playoff Seed
JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville Sharks play their final regular season home game this week with the postseason right around the corner. Last week the Sharks suffered a rough 67-35 loss against the Columbus Lions (5-1) in the Sharks Tank. Jacksonville started the game driving down the field but a forced fumble in the endzone was returned for a Lions touchdown striking an early blow to the Sharks and setting the tone for the game. Despite Danny Southwick's strong start going 7 for 7 on his first two drives capped off by a touchdown pass to Jalen Rima, the Lions continued to score on offense and defense putting them up 15-7 towards the end of the first quarter. Eerily similar to the home opener the Sharks starting quarterback went out of the game due to injury. From there the game deflated for Jacksonville, despite great plays on both sides of the ball Jacksonville could not erase the Columbus point deficit going down 39-14 at halftime and closing out the game with the 67-35 final. Now 2-4 the Sharks must win to hold the 4th NAL playoff spot as they face a hungry Carolina Cobra (1-5) team. They lost by three-points to Orlando on Saturday and three-points to the Sharks last time they played in Carolina . To add pressure the Cobras are not out of the playoff race, if they win both of their final games and the Sharks fall in the last two they could advance to the playoffs with a Jersey Flight loss in week 10. With the playoffs on the line the Cobras signed a new quarterback Aaron Aiken who threw 10 passes for 189 yards and three passing touchdowns while also rushed eight times for 20 yards and punching in a rushing touchdown against the Predators on Saturday. The Sharks defense will have to adjust to the dual-threat attack this week compared to the pocket passer presence of Mason Epinsona and the Lions.
Last week, the Sharks struggled with adversity, the most severe of which were injuries and turnovers. Going into the game the Sharks were without All-NAL lineman Derrick Ziegler, All-NAL fullback Alstevis Squirewell, All-NAL linebacker Zack Brown, and one of the Sharks top targets on offense Jordan Williams, who also has been the Sharks primary kick returner. During the game the Sharks lost quarterback Danny Southwick forcing the coaches to play a backup quarterback with a backup center against one of the top teams in the league and the #1 defense in the NAL this season. Despite the extreme circumstances the Sharks defense did make plays through the adversity Justin Marcus had six tackles, two blocked passes, a forced fumble and recovery against the Lions while Jonathan Taylor racked up two tackles for a loss. On offense Jalen Rima made his Shark Tank debut with 10 catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns, proving himself as a young upcoming talent within the Jacksonville Sharks talent pool. Connor Kaegi filled in for an injured Southwick, the local Bolles School Quarterback was 14 for 21 with 160 yards and throwing four touchdowns for the Sharks. On special teams, Paris Mack filled in for the injured Jordan Williams, Mack earned the Duval Honda Special Teams player of the game with his three returns for 50 yards including one that was almost returned for a touchdown. Kicker Brandon Behr had a solid 5 for 5 game on points after attempts and by strategy kicked a high number of squib & onside kicks this week that lowered his attempts to make a deuce.
This week's game is scheduled for Saturday July 24, with kickoff at 7pm. Tickets for our Military Appreciation Night presented by Navy Federal Credit Union are on sale now starting at just $10 and all military active duty members & veterans will receive a buy one get one free discount to this week’s game. The easiest way to purchase Sharks tickets is online at jaxsharks.com or you can call David Diana at 904-621-0700 ext. 717 or visit the arena box office. If you can't make it to the game you can watch the game locally on television’s CW-17 broadcasted throughout Northeast Florida & South Georgia or you can watch the Sharks world-wide on the NAL YouTube channel for our full game live stream.
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The 2019 & 2017 NAL Champions and ArenaBowl XXIV Champions play all of their home games at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Shark Nation Memberships for the 2021 season are still available. Call David Diana at 904-621-0700 Ext. 717 or visit jaxsharks.com