Jacksonville ready for title chase in 2015
The beginning of the 2015 Arena Football Season is a bittersweet one for me. While I absolutely love the sport, this marks the first season I will have to try and stay interested without my hometown team to root for.
As many fans know, the Pittsburgh Power folded during the offseason, and the team I’ve loved and worked for as a radio host, color analyst and eventually public address announcer was no more. To see a team go from title contender to non-existent in the same offseason was a stunning turn of events.
It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I knew the fire for this sport still burned within me, and I just needed a new team to turn my attention to. Fortunately for me, ArenaFan needed a writer to cover the Jacksonville Sharks, and the Sharks just so happen to have a few former Power players I know well. So that means you guys are stuck with me, and I’ll try my best to not let the bitterness I feel over losing my Power influence the fun I expect to have watching the Sharks this season.
Call me shark bit, but things are looking way up for the Sharks with all of the offseason moves they’ve made. You knew ownership was not going to stand still after a 7-11 season that ended the team’s streak of four consecutive seasons in the playoffs.
Enter Tommy Grady, Joe Hills, Tiger Jones, Derrick Ross and Wayne Tribue on offense. All of the above have earned 1st or 2nd team All-Arena honors at some point in their careers, and Grady was the 2012 MVP. The team also signed reigning 1st team All-Arena center Antonio Narcisse, but he failed his physical and did not make the team out of camp.
The Sharks didn’t ignore upgrading the defense, as they went out and got more All-Arena level talent in Joe Sykes (former Defensive Player of the Year) and Alvin Ray Jackson. Caesar Rayford will also return to the AFL after a stint in the NFL. The infusion of high-caliber talent on both sides of the ball and special teams has the Sharks thinking ArenaBowl once again, and it’s hard to dispute their claim as top contender in the American Conference.
Let’s recap shall we?
MVP level quarterback? Check.
Dynamic top level receiving corps? Check.
Best running back in the AFL? Check.
Strong pass rush? Check.
Strong secondary? Check.
Playmaking kick returner? Check.
All the pieces are in place for a championship. The only problem facing the Sharks as I see it is how to keep all the stars happy on offense.
As many would say, that’s a good problem to have sometimes. The team has been assembled, all that’s left to do is go out there and do the job.