03/15/2013 11:20 PM
JACKSONVILLE – The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks took to Sea Best Field for the first time in 2013 on Friday, falling to the Orlando Predators by a 41-20 count in the teams’ preseason scrimmage at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
Though the Sharks did not walk away with a win on the scoreboard, the four quarters of Friday’s scrimmage served as a great chance for many of the team’s rookies and new faces to get accustomed to taking their game between the walls. In fact, many of the Sharks’ returning veterans played very few snaps, giving their younger teammates a chance to get their reps in.
One veteran who did make an early impact, however, was defensive back LaRoche Jackson. After Orlando scored the first 13 points of the game, Jackson ran the ensuing kickoff back for an electrifying score that pulled the Sharks to within a 13-7 margin.
After the Predators again extended their lead, two of the Shark rookies began to make an impact. Both Charles Gilbert and J.J. Hayes entered Friday’s scrimmage without having played a single snap on an actual arena football field, and both players impressed. Gilbert hauled in a nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Bernard Morris in the second quarter, while Hayes made several plays in the second half, including a big 4th-and-long conversion on a pass thrown by R.J. Archer.
Each of the Sharks’ three quarterbacks saw at least two series on Friday night. Morris started the game and played the entire first half, showcasing his trademark scrambling ability on two occasions. After halftime, Archer entered and played into the fourth quarter before giving way to rookie Lee Chapple. In the game’s final seconds, Chapple ended the contest on a positive note with a 10-yard touchdown run.
With the preseason scrimmage in the books, the Shark coaching staff must turn around and make some tough roster decisions. After opening training camp with a 35-man roster nearly two weeks ago, then practicing for the past week with a 28-man squad, head coach Les Moss and his assistants must submit a 24-man roster by Saturday evening. While the film from tonight’s scrimmage will no doubt play a role, each player will be evaluated on his overall body of work throughout training camp.
Shark players, staff and the Attack Dance Team will take part in tomorrow’s Kickoff Bash at Burrito Gallery, located at 21 E. Adams St. in Jacksonville. All Shark fans are invited to attend the event, which will feature player autographs, a live DJ, $5 burritos and a whole lot more. The Kickoff Bash is set to run from 4:00-7:00 in the evening.
After Saturday’s personnel decisions and the Kickoff Bash, the Sharks will return to the practice field early next week in preparation for the season opener in Tampa Bay against the Storm, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 23.
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and back-to-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 2013 season are now available, two tickets as low as $185. 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 and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.