04/09/2012 5:15 PM - JACKSONVILLE – Following the team’s second bye week of 2012, the ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks have returned to the practice field to prepare for the team’s game against the Utah Blaze on Friday, April 13 on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Friday’s game is set to kick off at 8:00 p.m.
For the Sharks, the upcoming contest serves as an opportunity to move past the team’s last-second 71-69 loss at Tampa Bay on March 30. In that contest, Jacksonville took a 69-65 lead with 4.5 seconds remaining in the game before the Storm scored the game-winning touchdown as time expired.
This week, wide receiver Terrance Smith will look to build on his strong start to the 2012 season. Smith heads into this game fresh off a five-touchdown performance against Tampa Bay. In that game, the second-year veteran caught three touchdown passes, returned a pair of kickoffs for scores and racked up a season-high 259 all-purpose yards. That performance earned him a selection as the AFL Playmaker of the Week for Week 4.
While Smith has received the league accolades, fellow receiver Jeron Harvey has been a consistent presence for the Sharks’ offense this season. Harvey has recorded at least eight receptions in each of the first three games this season and has matched Smith with five touchdown receptions in 2012. Harvey’s 12 catches and 129 receiving yards against the Storm stand as the team’s season highs in those two categories.
Defensively, the Sharks will look to generate more turnovers going forward. The team has just two total takeaways in the last two games and has not recorded an interception since the season opener. Getting an extra possession or two via a key turnover could make the difference in what should be a competitive contest.
Hollywood Award Night
Friday night will be “Hollywood Award Night” at Sea Best Field, as the Sharks pay tribute to the stars of the silver screen. Fans will be able to walk the red carpet at the arena entrance, and many of the in-game promotions will emphasize this Hollywood atmosphere.
Those attending the game are encouraged to dress as their favorite actor or actress, as those who show up in the best costumes will have a chance to win a 2012 “Sharkie.” The awards will be presented throughout the course of Friday’s game.
Know Your Foe
Like the Sharks, the Utah Blaze enjoyed a bye week in Week 5. Utah enters this week’s tilt at 2-2, and has remarkably both scored and given up exactly 234 points. To this point, the Sharks and Blaze have not had any common opponents, though Utah did fall to the South Division’s New Orleans VooDoo on March 31.
Utah is led by veteran quarterback Tommy Grady, who is in the midst of his third AFL season and fourth year of arena football overall. In 2011, his first year with the Blaze, Grady tied a franchise record with 107 touchdown passes against just 11 interceptions. Before joining Utah, Grady played for the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz for two seasons, as the team competed in af2 in 2009 and the AFL in 2010.
This year, Grady has found early success thanks to a trio of potent receivers. Aaron Lesue, Ernie Pierce and Alvance Robinson have all caught at least 27 passes for 330 or more yards. Lesue ranks tied for fourth in the AFL with 12 touchdown receptions this season.
On the other side of the ball, the Jacksonville offensive line will have their hands full with a Blaze defensive front that leads the league with 16 sacks – six more than any other team in the league. Mike Lewis has led that relentless pass rush with six sacks, an individual total that ranks him tied with or ahead of 12 AFL teams.
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and back-to-back South Division Champions are presented by Sea Best Seafood and play all home games on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Season Tickets for the 2012 season are now available, two tickets as low as $123. To reserve your season tickets or for more information, please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance.