ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) — The two regular-season meetings between the Albany Empire and the Jacksonville Sharks serve as no indication of what is to come in round three Saturday night. Just ask Empire head coach Tom Menas.
“It’s going to be three completely different games,” said Menas. “Personnel has changed over there so much that it’s like playing a new team. We’re scouting them based on their last couple games; not when we played them.”
And if those last couple of games is any indication of what challenges lie ahead for the Empire, coach Menas’ staff is going to have their hands full. The Sharks are 6-3 since the last meeting between these two teams on May 22.
The most significant change to Jacksonville’s squad comes at the quarterback position. Arvell Nelson, a mid-season acquisition, did not play in either regular season matchup. Arvell has thrown for 40 touchdowns in just 9 games and displayed great mobility with nine rushing touchdowns.
Yet Nelson might not even start Saturday night. Former Empire signal caller Mike Fafaul started last week for the Sharks, tossing five touchdowns, and throwing three interceptions in a losing effort against the Carolina Cobras.
NEWS10 reached out to the Sharks organization, and director of multimedia Steven Shotola said the man under center for Jacksonville will be a game-time decision. On the outside, Nyqwan Murray poses the biggest threat at receiver with 19 receiving touchdowns on the year.
The Sharks will be without star-wideout Devin Wilson, who’s suspended from the league indefinitely. Regardless of who Jacksonville features on offense, Menas knows his defense holds the key to victory.
“In the last two games, we’ve only given up 21 points total in the second half, which is unheard of in indoor football,” said Menas. “My objective is we would like to have two stops a quarter. That’s setting the bar pretty high, but that’s our goal. And if we can accomplish that – with our offense – then I know we’ll be coming out on the right end of this.”
Saturday night’s playoff game kicks off at 7 p.m. inside MVP Arena.