BY: PAUL ZUKAUSKAS
MESA, Ariz. – Despite having just returned home from Spokane, the Rattlers will be turning around and heading west once again to battle the (5-2) San Jose SaberCats on Saturday, May 7 at the HP Pavilion at 7:30 pm. The game marks the third consecutive division contest for the Rattlers, and a loss would drop them to second place in the division for the first time all season.
After suffering a close loss in Spokane, the sky is not falling for Arizona quite yet. Despite trailing by 14 on the road to the Shock with less than a minute remaining, Arizona came back and had three chances to win the game. At 6-1 the team shares the top record in the AFL with the Jacksonville Sharks. The Sharks only blemish this season came at the hands of the Rattlers in Week One, 55-52.
The Rattlers offense has come alive in recent weeks, and the team ranks in the top five of every major statistical category. Leading the way are QB NICK DAVILA and his two premiere targets, WR TRANDON HARVEY and WR ROD WINDSOR. Davila has thrown 19 touchdowns and only two interceptions in his previous three starts. Harvey has averaged 9.5 receptions for 114.5 yards and two touchdowns in his last two starts; and the former AFL Rookie of the Year, Windsor, has averaged 15.67 receptions for 181.67 yards and three touchdowns per game in his previous three contests.
The SaberCats’ defensive front four has proven to be formidable throughout the first half of the season. The defensive line for San Jose leads the AFL in sacks with 15, and ranks fourth in Rushing Defense. Despite a strong line, the San Jose secondary is susceptible to big plays. As a defensive unit, the SaberCats rank last in Pass Defense and last in Total Defense.
Arizona has lost seven straight games against San Jose, and nine of the last ten. A win Saturday will give the Rattlers a two game lead in the division, but a loss will set the team back to second place for the first time all year.