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Jacksonville Sharks (1-1) at Massachusetts Pirates (1-2)

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Saturday, May 4 DCU Center, Worcester MA 8:20 PM

By Mick Moninghoff

Local Radio: 98.9 Nash Icon 8:15 PM
LIVE Streaming: NAL YouTube
PBP: Mick Moninghoff


For the Record

After winning its first game of the season last week 45-12 over Orlando, the Pirates look for a second straight vs. Jacksonville. Last weeks’ victory at the DCU Center stopped Massachusetts three game losing streak that dated back to last seasons’ playoffs. Jacksonville is on a one game winning streak having defeated Columbus 48-24 on April 19.


Pirates by the Dozen

  1. Pirates receiver # 1 Mardy Gilyard leads the NAL in kickoff return yards and average.
  2. Pirates look for second win to get to .500.
  3. Lawrence Austin is tied for the league lead in interceptions with three.
  4. The Pirates have four All-League performers from a year ago, Quayvon Hicks, Sean Brackett, Devonn Brown and JD Griggs.
  5. Mardy Gilyard leads the team with five touchdown receptions.
  6. The Pirates scored six touchdowns last week in a 54-12 win over Orlando.
  7. DB Lou Figaro has 7 passes broken up this season.
  8. The Pirates will start at 8:20 PM this week due to an afternoon event in the DCU Center.
  9. The Pirates have used nine new players on offense and defense so far this season.
  10. #10 MVP QB Sean Brackett had a hand in five of six scores in last weeks’ victory.
  11. DB Lawrence Austin leads the Pirates with 11 tackles.
  12. The Pirates allowed just 12 points last week vs. Orlando. The best defensive effort by any NAL team this season.


Last Week

The Pirates saw quarterback Sean Brackett throw three touchdown passes and run for two more scores in a 45-12 victory over the Orlando Predators. Fullback Quayvon Hicks ran for 16 yards and a TD while Thomas Owens led the receivers with five receptions for 61 yards and a score. The Pirates defense held Orlando to 124 yards of total offense and had three interceptions, two by Lawrence Austin.


The Sharks were idle enjoying their first bye week of the season.


The Series

(Jacksonville leads the series 2 -1)

Last year the teams split the two meetings in Jacksonville while the Sharks won in the DCU Center (47-42)


The Last Meeting

(July 28, Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, FL)

Sharks 45 – Pirates 36

The Pirates lost more than the game in losing to the Sharks. With the Pirates leading 15-7 in the second quarter Sharks defensive lineman Jermiah Price landed on quarterback Sean Brackett’s leg causing an injury that ended the MVP’s season. The Pirates went on to turn the football over six times in the defeat.

Sharks defensive back Marvin Ross collected three of five interceptions and receiver Tom Gilson pulled in three touchdowns while adding 110 yards on ten receptions.


The Coaches

Jacksonville Head Coach Siaha Burley is in his third season with the Sharks. Burley is 16-9 all-time in Jacksonville and led the Sharks to the 2017 National Arena League title. Burley is 2-1 vs. Massachusetts.


Anthony Payton is in his first season as Pirates Head Coach. Payton was the offensive coordinator of the Pirates last season. His record is 1-2 and this is his first meeting vs. Jacksonville.


The Quarterbacks

Pirates MVP quarterback Sean Brackett accounted for five of the six Massachusetts touchdowns in last weeks’ 45-12 win over Orlando. This season Brackett is 44 of 89 for 397 yards with five interceptions and eight touchdown passes. Brackett was a second team All-NAL offensive selection last season.

Sharks QB Jonathan Bane is 42 of 70 with three interceptions for 479 yards and nine touchdowns. Bane currently leads the NAL with 239.5 passing yards per game and leads the league in total offense with 498 yards and average per game with 249. The Sharks also have a league best 257 yards per game.


Players to Watch

Pirates’ fullback Quavyon Hicks who was the NAL Offensive Rookie of the Year and an All-League first team selection currently leads the National Arena League with 47 rushing yards on a league leading 15 attempts.

The Pirates leading receiver is Thomas Owens. The first year wide out has 19 receptions for 156 yards and one score while fellow WR Mardy Gilyard leads the team with five touchdown receptions. Gilyard also leads the NAL in kickoff return yards with 169 and average at 24.1. His 48 yards kickoff return vs. Carolina in the season opener is the longest in the league this season. Pirates’ first team All-NAL wide receiver Devonn Brown will miss the game as he is still listed on the short term injured reserve list.

Defensive back Lawrence Austin tops the league with three interceptions through three games. He is also the Pirates top tackler with 11 stops. All NAL first-team defensive end JD Griggs leads the Pirates with two tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and is second on the team with eight tackles.

The Sharks offense boasts four All-League performers from a season ago yet only one played with the team in 2018. Center Derrick Zeigler was a First-Team selection helping Jacksonville to earn the most rushing yards in the league. Wide outs Jarmon Fortson and Devin Wilson were First-Team performers for other clubs. Fortson joined the Sharks from Columbus while Wilson starred for Maine. One of the other top targets for the Sharks this season is receiver Durron Neal, who was a second team All-NAL choice while playing in Columbus last season.

Jacksonville defensive lineman Nick Woodman, 6’5” 250lbs (Utica College) currently leads the NAL with three sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss.  The Sharks defense also has a pair of players who were All-League second team selections in 2018.  Defensive back Chris Pickett was a second teamer while playing in Columbus and nose tackle Damien Jacobs returns to the Sharks front line this season.

Other Facts and Figures

Sharks Kicker Brandon Behr has a league best nine for nine on extra points. Pirates’ kicker Tyler Rausa ranks second in the league connecting on nine of 12.

Keeping in mind the Pirates have played three games and the Sharks just two, there are a few other trends to keep an eye on.

The Pirates have the number one rushing offense in the NAL averaging 25.3 yards per game (and 76 yards total) while the Sharks are second with 22.5.

The Sharks defense leads the NAL with seven sacks while the Pirates have allowed 11 in three games, the most in the NAL thus far.  The Sharks also have the fewest penalties in the league with six for 49 yards while the Pirates have been whistled for the most, 27 for 189 yards.

The Sharks are also the best third down team in the league converting on 58.8 percent (10-17) while holding opposing offensives to just a 23.1 conversion rate.


One More Time

Replays of this game can be seen on NESN, NESN Plus and 11 Sports USA at the following times.

Tuesday May 7 NESN Plus 7 to 9 PM

Wednesday, May 8 NESN Plus 5 to 7 AM

Wednesday May 8 NESN Primary 1 to 3 PME

Eleven Sports USA TBA

*All Times Eastern

Pirates transactions this week

OL Mitchell Bell activated from league suspension.  OL Jakobi Smith placed on League Suspension.

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