03/14/2017 9:03 AM -

JACKSONVILLE – Following their preseason win, the Jacksonville Sharks open the 2017 season in Columbus, Georgia against the Columbus Lions at the Columbus Civic Center on Friday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m ET.  This is the eighth season for the Sharks and their first season in the National Arena League. Friday’s game will be the first time the Sharks will take the field against the Columbus Lions, a team that has won three league championships and three division championships in their ten years as a franchise.

The Sharks announced their final roster for 2017 on Sunday and now proceed to the regular season with eight Sharks veterans and 16 new additions to the team. Since the Sharks joined the National Arena League, the Columbus Lions have been anticipated to be the Sharks’ new rival in the NAL. The Lions, have previously been a part of five different leagues, most recently coming from American Indoor Football. Last season in the AIF, the Lions had a perfect record as they dominated the league to win the AIF Championship. Prior to that in 2015, the Lions were a part of the Professional Indoor Football League, where they won the PIFL Cup IV.

The Sharks went 7-9 last season including a 1-3 start to their 2016 record. This season with new additions to the coaching staff including Head Coach Mark Stoute and Defensive Coordinator Joey Smith, the Sharks are looking for a great start to the 2017 season. Quarterback Tommy Grady returns after leading the Arena Football League with a QB rating of 125.39. He’ll be looking to receivers Will Dukes, Thyron Lewis, Darryl Thompson, and Maurice Williams for another great season under center.

The Sharks defense lead by coach Joey Smith are hoping to have another 1st quarter shutout as they did in Albany against the Firebirds. Jacksonville’s defense will be led by veteran stars DL Jermiah Price, LB Charlie Hunt, DB Laroche Jackson and AFL Rookie of the Year DB Marvin Ross. Other new additions to the roster that are expected to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball are former Orlando Predator DB Erick McIntosh who had a interception for a 40 yard return in the preseason opener and IFL Rookie of the Year Jabari Gorman.

This is the first of two games that the Sharks will play against Columbus, the second matchup will occur at the Sharks Tank in the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday, April 29 for Redneck Night.

About the Jacksonville Sharks

The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and four-time South Division Champions play all home games at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Sharks Nation Memberships for the 2017 season are now available. Shark Nation Memberships start as low as $99. To become a Shark Nation member or for more information please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on facebook at and on Twitter and Instagram @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at and Chum at