Arena Football: Vipers-Wildcats Vie for Division Lead

Chris YowAnalyst IApril 10, 2009

Picking up where the series left off, the Tennessee Valley Vipers and the South Georgia Wildcats find themselves in a familiar situation: competing for the lead in the af2's American Conference South Division.

Tennessee Valley is coming off an emotional and rather easy victory over Quad City, while both the Wildcats victories have come at the expense of another division foe, Florida.

South Georgia began the season with a sort of quarterback controversy, however, sickness forced Cecil Lester out of last week's win over the Firecats and rookie Darnell Kennedy played all four quarters and won the team's starting signal caller position.

Kennedy, a first-year player out of Alabama State, is poised and athletic according to Vipers head coach Dean Cokinos.

"He will run," said Cokinos of Kennedy.

It's no secret that Wildcats coach Rodney Blackshear is a fan of running quarterbacks. Blackshear spent the last two seasons in Lubbock and put Robert Kent in charge of his offense there. Kent posted 186 rushing yards and 16 scores after bolting the pocket.

This season, Kennedy is leading the team in rushing with 82 yards on 14 attempts and five touchdowns.

His dual threat ability has earned Kennedy the most touchdowns in the league by any player at any position. His passer efficiency rating puts him at fourth in the league, and he's only thrown one interception.

Oddly enough, Kennedy's favorite target was Kent's favorite target just one season ago. Alvance Robinson came to South Georgia with Blackshear and has had great success. In just two games, Robinson has hauled in 18 catches for 261 yards and six scores.

Clenton Rafe and Antwone Savage round out the top receivers on the squad. Rafe has three touchdowns within his 15 catches and Savage has four scores on 18 catches.

Defensively, the Wildcats have put up four sacks already, Kenyon Scott leads the way with 1.5 sacks. South Georgia has only caused three turnovers, however.

Overall, the Wildcats will rely heavily on the strength of Kennedy. With his success comes South Georgia's success.

Attempting to ruin the undefeated start for the Wildcats and disrupting Kennedy's spectacular play will be a Tennessee Valley Vipers team led by Eric Scott.

Scott is in his third season of af2 football and is looking forward to the day he plays in the AFL. Scott signed a contract with the Orlando Predators, but was released when the AFL suspended play for 2009.

Scott and Marcus White lead the Vipers with 1.5 sacks each on the year, but the Vipers have recorded seven so far this season.

Quarterback Kevin Eakin will lead the Vipers offense once again. Eakin had a strong outing last week against Quad City after throwing an interception on the game's first drive.

Eakin's completion percentage is third in the league, with backup Tony Colston one spot ahead of him.

Spreading the wealth to receivers seems to be a big theme of the offense, as Michael Johnson, Chris Bocage, and Bradly Chavez have nearly equal stats. Chavez leads the team in touchdown catches with five. Bocage follows with four and Johnson has three.

Bocage showed his athletic ability last week, returning a kickoff 58 yards for a touchdown.

Special teams played a huge role in last week's win as the Vipers scored one touchdown on Bocage's return, but also recovered a fumble on the second half kick off in the end zone for a touchdown. Kicker Nick Hayes also nailed all ten extra points for the Vipers.

With the South Division on the line, both squads will be ready to lock horns and battle for the early division lead.

Pit Prediction:
Vipers 56
Wildcats 51

Key Players:
Vipers - QB Kevin Eakin, WR Chris Bocage, DE Eric Scott
Wildcats - QB Darnell Kennedy, WR Alvance Robinson, C Rico Ochoa, DB Quentin Burrell