There is always added importance to divisional games in arena football. That, in turn, adds extra emotions.
When you include the Spokane Shock's previous game against the San Jose Sabercats into the mix, Saturday's 7:00 p.m. matchup at the Spokane Arena should an emotionally charged affair.
"I know it's going to be intense, I know it's going to be very physical up front," Shock head coach Andy Olson said. "Hopefully everything stays between the whistles."
The Shock went down to San Jose and came away with a 69-47 win over the San Jose on April 19. Paul Stephens' AFL record five interceptions on that day essentially closed the door to veteran quarterback Aaron Garcia, whom the Sabercats promptly traded to Orlando.
"They're going to try to come in here and do the same to us," defensive back Patrick Stoudamire said. "But we aren't going to let that happen."
Garcia's replacement, Russ Michna, has plenty of respect from the Shock. That being said, Olson is hoping Michna's pair of interceptions last week against Utah is a downward trend that will continue in Spokane on Saturday.
If the defense is able to propel the Shock to another win over San Jose, it will do wonders for them in the standings. Spokane currently sits in third place at 7-3, a half-game behind the 7-3 Sabercats.
Physical play will be key
It won't be easy to duplicate the early-season win against San Jose. If the Shock want to complete the season sweep, physical play will be key.
"They're going to come into here and try to out physical us for sure," Olson said. "Up front, they're as good as anybody – offense and defensive line. They're going to press us and really force us to put touch on the ball and make big catches down the field."
In the last meeting, the Sabercats were able to record both a sack and fumble recovery.