Shock: Wilkes-Barre doesn't have weaknesses - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Spokane Shock - ArenaCup 2009

Shock: Wilkes-Barre doesn't have weaknesses

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Shock DB Aaron Williams thinks the Pioneers are the best team he's faced this year (Photo: SWX) Shock DB Aaron Williams thinks the Pioneers are the best team he's faced this year (Photo: SWX)

Shock to hold final practice before Saturday's championship game

The Spokane Shock are in Las Vegas making final preparations to face Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Saturday's ArenaCup at the Orleans Arena.

The Shock and Pioneers will meet for the second time this year.  The Shock won the first meeting during the regular season, thanks to Markee White's one-handed fingertip catch with 23.9 seconds remaining in the game.  But things are different now.  Most, if not all, of the Shock players consider the Pioneers to be the best team they played during the season - even better than the Iowa team that handed them their only loss.

af2 ArenaCup 2009


Spokane Shock
vs.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers

Sat., Aug. 22
7:00 p.m.

Internet: www.niftytv.com/af2

Radio: 105.7 FM The Peak

"They're definitely looking for payback," said defensive back Aaron Williams.  "They're the best team that we played all year, so it's going to be a great matchup.  They're great all around the board, they don't have weaknesses.  So, it's going to be a good game."

Saturday's game will pit the Spokane offense, which averaged more than 57 points per game during the playoffs, against one of the most talented defensive systems in the af2.  The Pioneers' Micheaux Robinson was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year after posting incredible numbers during the regular season.  Robinson led the league in pass breakups (35), hauled in 14 interceptions and was second in the league in tackles (99.5).

"Robinson makes the defense go," said Shock assistant coach Rob Keefe.  "He's the best cover corner I've seen in the league."

Robinson was responsible for one of Shock QB Nick Davila's interceptions when the two teams played during the regular season.  Davila threw two picks in that game at Spokane Arena - his highest single-game total of the season.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton also boasts a strong defensive front.  Their defensive line accounted for 38 sacks this season (one more than Spokane), the second highest total during the regular season.  DL Justin Parrish, who didn't play against Spokane, and DL Royce Morgan tied for the team lead in sacks (11).  In the postseason, the Pioneers lead the league in sacks with 11.

As good as the Pioneers' defensive line is though, the Shock's offensive line has provided excellent cover for Davila all season long.  The Shock quarterback has been sacked just once during the postseason, while throwing 14 touchdown passes without a single interception. Last week, Davila threw six TDs - his highest total of the postseason.

Davila will be throwing to an exceptional group of receivers.  WR Andy Olson leads the team in receptions (23) and is second on the team with TD receptions (4) during the postseason.  Rookie Markee White has also proved to be a threat to opposing defenses, as he leads the team in touchdown receptions (5), including last week's game winner against Tulsa.

Of course, the Pioneers also have a talented quarterback in Ryan Vena.  Shock head coach Adam Shackleford said the af2 veteran is a big reason for Wikes-Barre's success in the postseason.

"I think Ryan Vena is playing a lot better right now than he did last time we played them," Shackleford said.  "As a team they are much more consistent.  They are a very well-coached team, and a very talented team, there is no denying that."

Shackleford said he plans in using his powerful defensive line to attack the Pioneeers' offense and disrupt Vena's rhythm.  During the regular season, Shock DL Ben McCombs led the league in sacks (15.5).  Frank Morton has also come on strong as of late, as has Caesar Rayford.  Morton leads the team in sacks during the postseason (2), while Rayford and McCombs have one sack apiece.

"I think this game is going to be a lot like last week's game and a lot like the first time we faced them," explained Shackleford, who will be coaching in this third ArenaCup.  "I think whenever you have two good football teams the game isn't decided until the end.  Saturday shouldn't be any different."

The ArenaCup will not be broadcast on TV, but is available for viewing live on the Internet through NiftyTV.com (www.niftytv.com/af2/).  The game can also be heard on the radio in the Spokane area on 105.7 the Peak.  Highlights and postgame reaction can be seen on KHQ and SWX, as well as on KHQ.com and SWXRightNow.com Saturday night.

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