After kicker Mike Weaver booted an unforgettable 60-yard field goal as time expired against the New York Streets, the Massachusetts Pirates (7-4) have a tall task ahead as they prepare to battle the first place Jacksonville Sharks (10-1) at the DCU Center in Worcester on Saturday night. The teams battled back on May 4th as the Sharks dominated in a 55-36 win. The Pirates are an improved team since then, but they face their biggest test yet as they hope to halt Jacksonville’s league-leading 10-game win streak and continue their own win streak to seven.
For the Pirates, the high-level play of MVP quarterback Sean Brackett is the main reason for the impressive turnaround. He has completed 63% of his passes which puts him at second place in the NAL in passing percentage. His 2,193 yards and 47 touchdowns both currently rank third in the league, which shows how efficient Brackett is to the team's success. Brackett’s sneaky rushing ability has put him atop of the NAL in rushing touchdowns with 10 to go along with 107 yards on the season.
The Sharks are led by quarterback Mike Fafaul, who through eight games has completed 101 of 157 passes (64.3%) for 1,107 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Each team has talented receivers. Jacksonville wide receiver Devin Wilson leads the league in touchdown receptions with 24, while also hauling in 86 passes for 977 yards. Alongside Wilson stands Jarmon Fortson, who has been an excellent second option. He’s caught 62 passes for 707 yards and 15 touchdowns so far this season. Close behind Wilson’s touchdown total stands Pirates speedy receiver Mardy Gilyard, who is tied for second in the NAL in touchdown receptions with 23. Gilyard has 65 receptions for 782 yards. Gilyard leads the NAL with 27 total touchdowns this season. Pairing up with Gilyard is Devonn Brown, who has snagged 40 balls for 492 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year.
Regarding the running game, the Pirates have the second overall rusher in the NAL in fullback Quayvon Hicks who has gained 127 yards and scored five touchdowns through nine games this season. Jacksonville’s Alstevis Squirewell has taken the load in the Sharks backfield all season long, as he’s rushed for 109 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games.
Pirates’ defensive back Lawrence Austin is currently in second place in interceptions with eight. His 53 total tackles, 18 pass breakups, and two pick-sixes shows versatility when trying to stop an opposing offense. Defensive lineman JD Griggs has seven-and-a-half sacks this season which lands him in second in the NAL in that category. He has 19.5 total tackles, nine-and-a-half tackles for loss, five pass breakups, five quarterback hits, and a forced fumble on the year.
The Sharks defense is led by Seth Ellis and Cody Saul. Ellis is leading the NAL in interceptions with 13 picks. He also has 36 total tackles and 23 pass breakups on the year. Saul leads Jacksonville in tackles with 58.5 and has gathered four interceptions and 23 pass breakups so far this season.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Franklin St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For group outings please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook at Facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates.