(SAN JOSE, CALIF.) – The National Conference leading San Jose SaberCats (12-1) will play on the road for the second straight week to take on the Spokane Shock (4-8) on Friday, June 26, with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m. PDT.
The Pacific Division rivals have squared off twice this season, with San Jose outscoring Spokane by a combined score of 138-54. The third time around will feature quarterback Erik Meyer’s first game at Spokane Veteran’s Memorial Arena as a SaberCat. Meyer, who spent the first five seasons of his career with the Shock, winning the 2013 Arena Football League Most Valuable Player award, has thrown for 61 touchdowns and ranks in the top-five of nearly every passing category this season.
While San Jose possesses a former league MVP, the starting receivers have been the catalyst for the offense. Setting the pace is Reggie Gray, whose 110 receptions, 1,195 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns leads the SaberCats and is also among the top-five in the league.
Additionally, Adron Tennell has been critical to the success of the offensive attack. Tennell, who won the 2013 AFL Receiver of the Year as a member of the Shock, is second on the team with 18 touchdowns and has added 586 receiving yards, providing the ability to move the chains as well as be a threat in the red zone.
A versatile playmaker, Darius Reynolds has excelled as a receiver, on special teams and occasionally, filling in defensively. Reynolds has totaled 13 touchdowns, hauling in nine touchdown receptions adding four on the ground, while notching 12 tackles this season. Averaging 59.4 points per game, the SaberCats’ potent offense remains the best in the league.
Offensively, Spokane has turned to Carson Coffman as the starter under center. Coffman led the Shock to a 69-54 victory over the Portland Thunder, completing 20-of-32 passes for 328 yards and a season-high nine touchdowns.
Last month, Spokane added receiver Jabin Sambrano to go along with Anthony Amos and Nick Truesdell. Sambrano, who has spent the past three seasons in the National Football League, most recently with the Atlanta Falcons, led the Shock last week with eight receptions and 125 yards, adding two touchdowns.
Similarly, Truesdell is coming off his best performance of the season last week against the Thunder. Entering the matchup, Truesdell (6’7” 240) had 12 touchdowns through nine games, but in a breakout performance, he added five touchdowns on seven receptions and 124 yards. Meanwhile, Amos currently leads the team among active players with 70 receptions for 758 yards this season.
Defensively, the SaberCats are led statistically, by Ken Fontenette, Jason Stewart and Francis Maka. Fontenette has had a nose for seeking out the football, leading the league with 98.5 tackles and is second in the league with 10 interceptions. Meanwhile, Maka ranks third in the AFL with 8 sacks, two safeties and has added 17 tackles his season. The 2014 Defensive Player of the Year, Jason Stewart has been a menace in the middle of the SaberCats’ pass rush. Stewart is right behind Maka with 7.5 sacks and has 17.5 tackles with eight going for a loss. The crushing San Jose defense has allowed just 37.2 points per game, to lead the AFL, though they will be tested against a Shock offense that is coming off a 69 point outing last week.
San Jose’s defense has a league-high 24 interceptions and has only surrendered 48 passing touchdowns, the fewest in the Arena Football League by a margin of 11.
The Pacific Division matchup can be seen live on ESPN3, the Watch ESPN app or on radio 1220AM KDOW.