Just a couple weeks into 2009, the Tennessee Valley Vipers have some of the most important figures from the defending Arena Cup championship team signed and returning for another run at the title.
Eric Scott is one of those slated to return to the Vipers. Scott was in negotiations with the Orlando Predators before the AFL abruptly ended business for this upcoming season.
Scott recorded 33.5 tackles including 18.5 tackles for loss. 17.5 of the tackles for loss were quarterback sacks. Scott also blocked two field goals in the regular season and one in the Arena Cup. His 22 quarterback hurries were tops on last year's team.
Joining Scott again on defense is RaJohn Myles. Myles finished last season with 8.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries. From his MLB position, Myles was the leader and the force that made opposing offenses fear throwing across the middle.
Also, returning from last season will be defensive backs, Darren Garrigan, Desmon Foster, Demetrius Derico, and Travis Blanchard.
Blanchard is almost a household name in Huntsville. His picture graces each Vipers billboard and everyone loves No. 7. Garrigan was green in his first few games with the Vipers, but as the playoffs came around, so did Garrigan. He matched his three pass break-ups in the regular season with three in the Arena Cup alone and nine in the four playoff wins.
Derico led the Vipers all season in interceptions and was among the league leaders as well with nine picks.
Foster set an Arena Cup record with 13.5 tackles. He also had three picks in the regular season, five in the post season, including one in the Arena Cup.
Offensively, returning for the Vipers will be backup signal caller and Arena Cup MVP Tony Colston. Colston returns as the starter as of right now.
With the receiving corps returning for the Vipers, it won't be hard for Colston to look like an NFL prospect. Maurice Brown, Alonzo Nix, Jeremy Stephens, and Michael Johnson all return. Also Chris Bocage was added from the Albany Conquest and two rookies from the University of North Alabama also thrown into the mix, one of which was in camp with the Colorado Crush before the AFL suspended the 2009 season.
Brown led the team with 108.8 yards receiving a game and 29 scores before being injured. Nix hauled in 23 scores of his own and 85 yards a game. Johnson posted three touchdowns in three games and 65 yards receiving per contest.
In the playoffs, Nix hauled in nine scores and averaged 131.8 yards a game.
Some other new faces joining the Vipers will be OL/DL John Scott of Jacksonville State and FB/LB and DE Keller Speakes, also of Jacksonville State. Speakes has two years experience with the Louisville Fire. Scott is a rookie who was in camp with the Tennessee Titans the last two years.
Once again, the Vipers roster is shaping up tremendously and in 2009 the HISS is BACK!