After falling short 59-42 in last week's game, the Massachusetts Pirates (7-5) will have a chance at revenge on Saturday as they travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks (11-1) for the second week in a row at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at 7:00 pm. The Sharks have locked down the top seed in the playoffs and are currently riding a league-high 11-game win streak, as their only loss came back in week one against the New York Streets. The matchup for the Pirates should provide a solid glimpse of what is to come as the playoffs are right around the corner.
Pirates MVP quarterback Sean Brackett has turned a team once sitting at 1-4 into a championship contender. He has completed 63% of his passes which puts him at second in the National Arena League in passing percentage. His 2,391 yards and 51 touchdowns both currently rank second in the league, which shows how efficient Brackett is to the team's success. Brackett’s rushing ability was on full display last game as he rushed for 48 yards and two scores, putting his total rushing numbers at an impressive 155 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is the leading rusher for Massachusetts, so teams must be wary of his skills beyond the line of scrimmage. Sharks quarterback Jonathan Bane has played at an elite level all season long and showed it in his last game when he threw for five touchdowns. On the year he has completed 56% of his passes for 1,712 yards, 37 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He’s added another 40 yards and three touchdowns rushing.
The Pirates can call on fullback Quayvon Hicks, who is the go-to guy when the team needs a short-yardage play. He has gained 115 yards and scored five touchdowns through 10 games this season. Jacksonville’s Alstevis Squirewell has taken the load in the Sharks backfield all season long. He had quite the night against the Pirates defense last game when he rushed for 40 yards and two touchdowns, including a 30- yard score when he dashed through the middle of the defense.
The Sharks and Pirates both display elite receivers to complement their high-level QB’s. Pirate’s speedy receiver Mardy Gilyard is tied for the top overall spot in receiving touchdowns in the NAL with 26. He put up a monster nine catches for 95 yards and three touchdowns against the Sharks in the last meeting. Pairing up with Gilyard is Devonn Brown, who has snagged 45 balls for 549 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year. Jacksonville wide receiver Devin Wilson is third in the league in touchdown receptions with 25, while also hauling in 90 passes for 1008 yards. Alongside Wilson stands Jarmon Fortson, who caught a 44-yard touchdown pass on Saturday night.
Pirates’ defensive back Lawrence Austin has been making huge plays on defense all season long and is currently second in interceptions with eight. His 55 total tackles, 21 pass breakups, and two pick-sixes show his versatility. Defensive lineman JD Griggs has nine-and-a-half sacks and 12 tackles for loss this season, which both rank second in the NAL. He also has 24 total tackles, five pass breakups, seven quarterback hits, and a forced fumble on the year. The Sharks defense is led by Seth Ellis and Cody Saul. Ellis is leading the NAL in interceptions with 13 picks. He also has 39.5 total tackles and 23 pass breakups on the year. Saul leads Jacksonville in tackles with 59.5 and has gathered five interceptions and 3 pass breakups so far this season. Saul also intercepted Brackett on Saturday night.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Franklin St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For group outings please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook at Facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates.