You can measure the resolve of a boxer by the way he picks himself up off of the canvas after a knockdown. The Massachusetts Pirates (0-1) need that same kind of moxie as they face the defending National Arena League Champion Carolina Cobras (1-0) this Saturday night in the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Pirates were knocked down a few times last weekend at home losing to the Cobras 54-22. It was the fewest points scored in a game by the Pirates in the history of the franchise. This week Massachusetts needs a quick turnaround.
Pirates’ defensive back Al Louis-jean sees Saturday’s contest as a way to right the ship in a hurry.
“It’s actually a great opportunity. We didn’t get the result we wanted last week, but we have a fresh chance right away to redeem ourselves and put that fire out,” he said.
Defensively, Massachusetts struggled to find the answer on how to slow down Carolina quarterback Charles McCullum who was 23 of 35 for 248 yards with six touchdowns and just one interception. Receivers Jordan Jolly who had nine receptions for 109 yard and three touchdowns and Fabian Guerra, who added six catches for 84 yards and a pair of scores, had their way against a revamped Pirates defensive backfield. Louis-Jean knows the Cobras quarterback and receivers are formidable, but not unsolvable. “They’re decent, Louis-Jean said. They have a lot of chemistry. That’s what they do have but I don’t think it’s something we can’t handle.”
The Pirates won’t make excuses, but the facts are that wide receiver Devonn Brown, who led the team with 25 touchdown receptions and yards per catch (19) was absent as he was working out for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League and center Thomas Claiborne was placed on short term injured reserve due to a leg injury. Two others, WR Tavares Martin Jr. and DL Dajaun Drennon were also unavailable. The Pirates missed Brown’s speed and Claiborne’s presence up front.
There were bright spots as Mardy Gilyard returned three kicks for a total of 102 yards and added two touchdown receptions, fullback Quayvon Hicks ran for 26 yards on six carries and also found the end zone, and rookie receiver Thomas Owens pulled in three balls for 54 yards.
Brown will return this week which will give Massachusetts quarterback Sean Brackett another high powered weapon.
“There’s definitely a sense of urgency because if you go 0-2 in this league you’ve got to dig yourself out and that’s not what we are about,” Brackett said. They came in here and handled business in our house. Now it’s our job to go down there and handle business. So it’s big, especially against a team of that caliber to split the series and just get back on the winning track ourselves,” he added.
Brackett went on to say, “We are used to putting up 50 to 60 points at a time and having 22 on the scoreboard was not a good feeling especially for a quarterback and leader of the offense, but it really comes down to little things; just executing. Handling the small details, knowing where everyone is supposed to be, and have everyone on the same page. We’re cleaning that up already, we’ve watched the film, we’ve had a couple of good days of practice and I think we’ll be ready to roll on Saturday.”
The Pirates battle cry for the season is to “complete the mission” and to win the title that eluded them last season. Brackett say’s that hasn’t changed.
“We had high expectations for the first game. I think we tried to send a message to the rest of the league and that wasn’t the message that we wanted to send, but it’s a long season, that’s our mind set. We just have to keep on improving and getting better every single day. The expectation has not changed for the year. We’re a championship team and we expected to compete for a championship. We’ve got to win games. It’s definitely a revenge game already. They came down here and handled business and it’s our job to do the same to them in their house this weekend,” he added.
Defensive end JD Griggs say’s the results of last Saturday’s setback has given the Pirates new purpose.
“I think it’s about preparation now. We realize that we weren’t mentally prepared so this week we have to be overly prepared because we are playing the same team so this week a sense of urgency is well needed. Today it picked up in practice a little bit. You see that people want it now. They will buy into the system and everybody wants to learn now. We had a well needed practice. We needed teaching.
The Pirates look to come out swinging as the bell for round two rings at 7:00 pm in Greensboro this Saturday.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster 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.