Monthly Archives: January 2015

Jacksonville Sharks 2015 Schedule Preview

AFL Releases Jacksonville’s 2015 Schedule
by Erik Watkins

As an early Christmas present, the Arena Football League released their full 2015 schedule recently. For the Sharks, 2015 will be a season to rebuild and rebound from what many consider a sub-par 7-11 season. The good news is that the schedule sits in Jacksonville’s favor in two ways: fewer teams, and a better home schedule.

The Sharks have the worst road schedule in terms of strength, with teams winning only 41.4% of their games, and the 4th strongest home schedule with teams winning 56.3% of their games last year. Another good aspect is travel, as Jacksonville will travel the second fewest miles in the league during the season (only 870 miles more than Las Vegas, of all teams).

The particulars work out quite well, with the Sharks having no longer than a two-game road trip and no more than a two-game home stand. Two of the three division rivals (unless realignment changes due to the smaller league), Tampa Bay and New Orleans, will have the advantage in facing the Sharks in their building twice, whereas Orlando will come to the Shark Tank twice during the year.

Before the first bye week in Week 9, Jacksonville will only have three divisional games under their belt, and will face two West Coast teams at home in consecutive weeks, highlighted by a Week 4 rematch with San Jose, whose last visit in 2013 ended in a postgame brawl that led to a SaberCats assistant coach being charged with assault. If tempers don’t flare in the home opener against the archrival Orlando Predators in Week 2, they certainly will for that game.

Following the first bye, Jacksonville will be on the road for three of the next five, including facing an old foe in QB Adrian McPherson, who just signed with the LA KISS. Following two more divisional road games in Tampa Bay and New Orleans, the Sharks will go into the league-wide July 4 bye after hosting the defending American Conference champion Cleveland Gladiators, who notched their first win in series history last year in Cleveland, 62-20.

To close the season, Jacksonville will venture to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Portland Thunder, and after facing the Philadelphia Soul (who beat Jacksonville in the American Conference Championship game in 2012 and 2013); the season ends with three straight divisional games. Keep in mind, if the South is as close as it has been in recent years, this would be the ideal stretch to either pull away from the pack and secure a better seed or stay into a race for a division title or playoff spot.

If the VooDoo are realigned into the East division, or if the league decides to abandon divisions and opt for two six-team conferences, things look good for Jacksonville to return to the postseason. If not, then there could be more questions than answers going into 2016.

Post-Draft Interviews Part 3 – Ernest Owusu

Ernest Owusu

Fan Zone: Last year you played for San Jose, now you get the chance to play for Vegas with one of the best QB’s as head coach, how does it fell to keep playing?
Ernest: I feel extremely excited and blessed to have the opportunity to not only keep playing, but also join a new organization. I know we’re all going to work really hard to do some great things for Las Vegas.

Fan Zone: What does AFL and playing football mean to you?
Ernest: Being in the AFL and playing football feels amazing to me. God blessed me with the ability to play a kid’s game for a living, so I’m more than thankful.

Fan Zone: How do you feel about playing for Garcia?  About playing for an expansion team?
Ernest: I’m extremely excited to play for Garcia! If anyone has an understanding of how things should be done and what it takes to win, it has to be one of the most decorated and revered players in AFL history!

Fan Zone: Any pressure to perform more so than previous years?
Ernest: There’s no pressure to perform. I’m going to continue to go to work every day and lay it out on the line every opportunity I get, regardless of the situation.

Fan Zone: Will playing in Vegas be a distraction with all the things to do?
Ernest: Yeah there might be distractions because there is a lot to do in Las Vegas, but honestly there are distractions everywhere. There were distractions in San Jose. My life order is God, family, football, and everything else. All of the distractions fall under everything else. So, you can bet distractions will not be an issue for me.

Fan Zone: Coming from San Jose, how different do you see it being playing in Vegas?
Ernest: I wish I could tell you how different Las Vegas is going to be, but honestly, I have no idea. Obviously a different organization will have different standards, rules etc. I’m just ready to find out.

Fan Zone: Have you ever been to Vegas?
Ernest: I have been to Vegas a couple of times over the past few years. So, I am somewhat familiar but a lot will be new to me.

Fan Zone: What benefits do you see working for an expansion team?
Ernest: I’ve never worked with an expansion team so I really don’t know. However, I do know that Las Vegas is going to be excited to have a Pro Team and I believe everyone is going to jump on board and fully support us.

Fan Zone: What is your goal for the season?
Ernest: I want this organization to come off the bat competing at a high level and show the people of Las Vegas that there’s a pro team to in the city that wants to make the people proud.

Fan Zone: Congratulations on being drafted and good luck with your season.

Post-Draft Interviews Part 2 – Gerald Young

Gerald Young

Fan Zone: Last year you played for Orlando, now you get the chance to play for Vegas with one of the best QB’s as head coach, how does it fell to keep playing?
Gerald: I’m definitely excited about the opportunity! I’ve heard about Mr. Garcia, but still don’t know much about him, but anyone with his type of resume I’m blessed to be under him and in his system.

Fan Zone:What does AFL and playing football mean to you?
Gerald: It’s a dream come true. Of course, I aspire for the NFL but AFL is professional football and I’m very proud. After God and family is football so it’s up there.

Fan Zone: How do you feel about playing for Garcia? About playing for an expansion team?
Gerald: Well I see it as they sought me out, correct me if I’m wrong…but that means a lot to me. Especially being a player ready to break out; wanting to break out .

Fan Zone: Any pressure to perform more so than previous years?
Gerald: Yea I think there is pressure…but, I put that on myself. I know what I’m capable of. I was a two-time all American in college and last year I made plays here and there but I’m ready to be a baller for Las Vegas.

Fan Zone: Will playing in Vegas be a distraction with all the things to do?
Gerald: Na. I’m pretty laid back. Love video games and movies; I’ll be fine. I’m from Miami and I didn’t get in trouble there. Lol

Fan Zone: Coming from Orlando, how different do you see it being playing in Vegas?
Gerald: Not sure. It was great playing in Orlando, close to home. Now I’m in Vegas and it’s football in another state. Same game though. I’ll miss being in front of family though.

Fan Zone: Have you ever been to Vegas?
Gerald: Never

Fan Zone: Tanner Varner was also drafted. Do you think he should come back so you two could play together again? (We’ve heard rumors he may not be back and would retire.)
Gerald: Well I’ve already spoke with Tanner. He seems excited about it so we’ll see. I think he will come back. I’d love to have him as a teammate again.

Fan Zone: What benefits do you see working for an expansion team?
Gerald: Being part of creating a new dynasty a new identity.

Fan Zone: What is your goal for the season?
Gerald: My goals are to help the team win first. Whether that is being a deep threat to open up others opportunities or being the “go to guy”. Other than the team, personally I really want to have opportunities to move up to the NFL, so I hope this season can show my capabilities.

Fan Zone: Congratulations on being drafted and good luck with your season.
Gerald: Thank you.

Post-Draft Interviews Part 1 – Moe Williams

In part 1 of this series Fan Zone writer/photographer Sharon Soares interviews newly acquired Las Vegas Outlaws WR, Moe Williams.

Fan Zone: Last year you played for Jacksonville, now you get the chance to play for Vegas with one of the best quarterbacks to play the game, now as head coach, how does it feel to keep playing
Maurice: I’m excited. I played with Aaron in 2013 with Orlando and briefly last year with the Kiss. I know his offense and I’m excited to play for him after playing with him.

Fan Zone: What does AFL and playing football mean to you?
Maurice: The AFL gave me my second chance. I played just one year at Pitt due to not being the best student athlete I could have been. Playing in the AFL has been my second chance and allows me to provide for my family. I signed with the Colts in 2013 and have had several NFL workouts. If I wouldn’t have played in the AFL, I certainly would have never have gotten those opportunities with my limited college experience.

Fan Zone: How do you feel about playing for Garcia? About playing for an expansion team
Maurice: I feel excited for both. To be apart of something new is special.

Fan Zone: Any pressure to perform more so than previous years?
Maurice: No. This is my occupation and you have to approach it that way.

Fan Zone: Will playing in Vegas be a distraction with all the things to do?
Maurice: No. There is a time and place for everything, but the first focus in going to Vegas is football.

Fan Zone: Coming from Jacksonville, how different do you see it being playing in Vegas?
Maurice: I think the offenses will be pretty similar. Still in a place with nice weather. I am not too sure right now outside of that, but I’m excited to see.

Fan Zone: Have you ever been to Vegas?
Maurice: No

Fan Zone: What benefits do you see working for an expansion team?
Maurice: Just being a part of something that is “the first”.

Fan Zone: What is your goal for the season?
Maurice: Win a championship and get back to the NFL!

Fan Zone: Congratulations on being drafted and good luck with your season.