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Week 2 Preview: Sharks face Firebirds for 2017 home opener

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JACKSONVILLE – The (1-0) Jacksonville Sharks return from their road victory against the Columbus Lions and now set their sights on their home opener against (0-1) Georgia Firebirds at the Shark Tank on Saturday, March 25 at 7:00 p.m. for Superheroes & Villians Night. This is the second matchup between the two teams, having previously faced off in a preseason showdown where the Sharks defeated the Firebirds 39-24 before finalizing their roster for the 2017 season.

On offense, fullback Derrick Ross set the stage for his upcoming season, scoring three touchdowns and rushing for 50 yards in his National Arena League debut. The Sharks will rely on more than just their run game to clinch their first home victory this year as quarterback Tommy Grady will be expected to have another big night following his season debut in Columbus, where Grady threw three touchdowns and passed for 182 yards without allowing a single interception. On defense, the Sharks secondary tore apart the lions passing game, forcing four interceptions including a pick-six by defensive back Marvin Ross and another pick-six by linebacker Charlie Hunt during a Lions two-point conversion. The Sharks face a pass heavy Firebirds team that fell into the negatives for rushing yards in their home opener against the High Country Grizzlies.

Despite their lack of a run game, the Firebirds did prove that have threats at the receiving core both 6-6 wide receiver Terence Ebagua and 5-7 wide receiver Kurtis Green both caused problems for the Sharks in the 2nd quarter as the Sharks gave up 17 points before the end of the half in the preseason showcase.

The keys to success for the Sharks Saturday will be to shut down Georgia quarterback Jeffrey Legree early. Legree proved in week 1 that he has no problem moving the ball down the field against the Grizzlies, throwing for 141 yards but Legree did struggle heavily to find the redzone and was 1 for 4 on fourth down conversions. For the Sharks offense, taking the lead early and driving the ball down the field with minimum turnovers will be critical to Sharks success. Jacksonville will also have to improve on their goal line situations as they struggled to punch the ball into the endzone in the second half against the Lions and can’t continue to turn the ball over late in games.

Grady’s will look to his new arsenal of talent at the receiver position to put this game away for Shark Nation as receivers Mo Williams, Will Dukes and Thyron Lewis each scored touchdowns between the preseason and season opener and have proven to be reliable targets in the open field. However it was the offensive balance provided by Sharks All-Arena fullback Derrick Ross that kept the Sharks drives alive. “The Boss” will be expected to have an encore performance for the season opener in Jacksonville to continue his reputation as one of the best fullbacks in arena football. This Saturday night showdown will kick off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted locally on CW-17, fans outside of Jacksonville that wish to watch the game online will be able to watch the game via webcast on Youtube Live, a link to the live feed will be available on nationalarenaleague.com and will be provided on Shark’s social media prior to kickoff.

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 facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter and Instagram @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks

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