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Green Bay has best team performance against Brock and Peoria

Andrew Pekarek
Sunday June 1, 2008

“This is weird,” said Robert Garth as he stepped up to the podium for the post-game press conference after the Green Bay Blizzard (6-3) defeated the Peoria Pirates 51-33 at the Resch Center on Friday night.

What’s weird about it is a couple of weeks ago he was playing for the Pirates, and was the reason Blizzard kicker Bob Forstrom got a second chance to beat the Pirates with a game-winning field goal in the previous meeting between the two teams in Peoria that Green Bay won 37-36.

Garth lined up at defensive end shaded outside the tackle on Forstrom’s first attempt, which is an illegal defense in arena football, but after a couple of weeks he found himself lining up for the Blizzard once again at Jack linebacker and wide receiver.

“I had butterflies. I was dropping passes in pre-game,” Garth said about his return to Green Bay.

Garth, also known as Superman, played with the Blizzard from 2003-2006.

He was the last original member of the inaugural Blizzard team left in 2006 when Green Bay played in the ArenaCup against the Spokane Shock.

In 2007, he played for the Tri-Cities Fever with quarterback Collin Drafts, who is now the Blizzard’s starting quarterback.

Drafts saw his first action with the Blizzard at Peoria, and since then has taken command of the quarterback job.

He hopes to be the next Blizzard quarterback to lead the team deep into the playoffs after getting the job at the midway point of the season.

In 2006 James MacPherson did it. He was the signal caller for the ArenaCup team, and last year, Zeke Dixon did it too, by leading the team to the American Conference championship game.

The Blizzard is also where Georgia Force quarterback Chris Greisen learned the game of arena football before he broke the single-season record for touchdown passes in 2007 in the Arena Football League.

“I played with Greisen. I played with MacPherson,” Garth said. “Collin ranks right up there.”

Drafts was 18 of 25 for 227 yards and had five touchdowns to three different receivers, and most importantly, no interceptions against the Pirates.

His statistics from Friday’s game say a lot about his talent, but after being knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a knee injury and coming back in to lead the team to the win say even more about his capabilities of being a leader for the team.

“I finally found some true heart in people,” said Blizzard head coach Bob Landsee.

Landsee was talking about the entire team, but specifically pointed out Drafts.

The Pirates (3-6), however, had the best player on the field.

Phillip Brock did everything for Peoria, but drive the bus to Green Bay.

He had eight catches for 115 yards, six rushes for 24 yards, seven kick returns for 77 yards and scored all of the Pirates’ five touchdowns.

“He’s probably one of the best players I’ve seen,” Garth said of his former teammate. “He’s good for the arena game because he so exciting...every time he touches the ball you got a chance of something big happening.”

The problem for the Pirates is the rest of the team totaled 36 yards in rushing, receiving and kick returns, and Brock didn’t score any of his touchdowns in the fourth quarter when the Blizzard finally pulled away from the Pirates.

The Blizzard defense couldn’t stop Brock, but held the Pirates to only 33 points and recorded four sacks. Three of those were by defensive end Joe Sykes, who now has 12.5 on the season and already has set the team’s single-season and all-time record for sacks.

Landsee, however, felt the offense stood out in this game, and called the unit’s play refreshing. He also said Drafts is the guy at quarterback, which means the weekly competition for the job has ended.

It may have taken the Blizzard half of the season to find a quarterback for the third straight season, but is that weird?

No, it’s just a habit, which fans in Green Bay won’t mind if it results in an ArenaCup championship.

Andrew is a senior at UW-Green Bay and has written for the student newspaper. He began following arena football in 1998 as a fan of the Green Bay Bombers (IFL). Was a programming intern for Sports Radio 107.5 & 1400 The Fan and is currently pursuing a career in radio broadcasting.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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