Vipers Closing in on Division Title

Chris YowAnalyst IJuly 9, 2009

Saturday night could mean much more than being just the Tennessee Valley Vipers' 11th win. With a win and a South Georgia loss the Vipers would clinch their first division championship since a Mid-South division title in 2004.

But first, the Vipers must once again tame the league's No. 1 offense, and it is once again the Kentucky Horsemen.

Kentucky leads the league in scoring offense at 62.4 points per game, while Tennessee Valley is still second in scoring defense at 36.5 points per game, just two-tenths of a point from the leading Spokane Shock.

The Horsemen have been spectacular at home this season, collecting a 5-1 record. On the opposite side, Tennessee Valley has gone just 3-3 on the road this season.

Jared Lorenzen still leads the Horsemen in both rushing and passing. He has thrown for 54 touchdowns and rushed for 19, while throwing just three interceptions and fumbling just once.

Lorenzen is also still sharing the snaps with Justin Rascatti. The duo have worked well this season in the shotgun and Rascatti has tossed 21 touchdowns to just three picks.

Lonnell Dewalt leads the team in receptions and touchdowns. Dewalt's 30 touchdowns also ranks in the top ten of the league. Harry Lewis and John Cooper also haul in the passes and Lewis leads the team in receiving yards.

Defensively, the Horsemen will put a mid-pack scoring defense on the field against a mid-pack offense.

Kentucky does, however, have more interceptions than anyone in the af2 with 29.

Kevin Eakin will lead the Vipers into Rupp Arena and attempt to avoid any misfires just as he did the last time the two teams met on the field of battle.

Eakin has continued his exceptional play over the last few weeks. His 11-1 touchdown/interception ratio is one of the tops in the league. Considering all but one of those interceptions came in the first three weeks of the season, his touchdown/interception ratio then becomes 55-1.

Jeremy Grier leads the receiving corps this week. Along with him will be Larry Shipp, who hauled in four scores in the Vipers last game, and Michael Johnson will round out the starting receivers.

It has been rumored that former receiver Gary Elliot will join the team this week as well. Elliot set an Arena Cup record last season with four touchdown catches in the championship game.

Defensively, Tennessee Valley has continued to shut down top offenses this season. Three teams have played the Vipers with the top ranked offense and have been held to 22 points or more below their average each time.

Henry Freeman, the full-time firefighter and part-time Viper came through in a major way last week at linebacker. He was second on the team in tackles and had a half tackle for loss to stop the Tulsa Talons on a fourth down.

Tennessee Valley will look to continue its winning streak and attempt to gain a winning record on the road for the first time this season with a win over Kentucky.

But it will have to happen in front of a "Rupp" crowd.

Pit Prediction
Tennessee Valley Vipers - 46
Kentucky Horsemen - 30

Key Players
Tennessee Valley Vipers - QB Kevin Eakin, JLB Henry Freeman, WR Larry Shipp
Kentucky Horsemen - QB Jared Lorenzen, QB Justin Rascatti, DB William Mulder