Phoenix, Ariz. – The Arizona Rattlers (10-3) have an opportunity this weekend to take the National Conference title and with it, home field advantage leading up to the ArenaBowl. Winning the division would mean the Rattlers have won their division/conference (until this season, the teams were divided into divisions) six straight times.
The Rattlers can clinch this title with a win this Saturday or a loss by the Cleveland Gladiatiors (7-6).
Arizona earned a first round home game in week 13 with a win over the LA KISS (5-7). The team that stands in their way from clinching the conference this weekend is the Jacksonville Sharks (5-7), who are desperately trying to host a first round game themselves.
For the Rattlers, Saturday’s game is a must win to keep pace with the Orlando Predators (11-2) and continue to control their own destiny. For the Sharks, the matchup is a must win to earn that fourth seed and a home playoff game.
The Rattlers will enter Saturday riding a four-game win streak, and is one of the hottest teams in the league. Led by the defense, Arizona is coming off a huge 64-49 victory over conference rival LA. Defensive back Jeremy Kellem earned the Riddell Defensive Player of the Week award for a second straight week after notching 4.5 tackles and two interceptions. He also returned a PAT attempt for two points. The Rattlers kept the KISS out of the end zone in the fourth quarter, the fourth time this season they held an opponent scoreless in the closing stanza.
Offensively, fullback Mykel Benson helped close the game out, rushing for both Arizona’s fourth quarter scores. Overall, Benson scored touchdowns on Sunday, three on the ground and one in the air. Quarterback Nick Davila completed 20 of 33 passes for five touchdowns and two interceptions in the game.
The Sharks, on the other hand, are struggling to stay afloat. They have lost two straight games and three of the last four, and now sit two games behind the Cleveland Gladiators (7-6) for the fourth seed. In week 13, Jacksonville took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter, but was outscored 21-7 in the fourth and ended up losing by one, 48-47.
Jacksonville’s quarterback Tommy Grady completed 26 of 38 passes for six touchdowns, in the effort; however, he did throw one interception and was sacked three times.
If the Rattlers win on Saturday, they will sew up the number two seed, and have their sights set on the top seed and having the ArenaBowl in Phoenix.
The game will be at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday, at 6:30 p.m. PDT and will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network.
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