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Struggling ’Cats brace for Shock

May 16, 2009
By RYAN RYLES, Special to the Breeze

Typically at the season's midway point, the Florida Firecats are maneuvering for a playoff position. At 3-4 entering tonight's game against the undefeated Spokane Shock at Germain Arena, maneuvering for a playoff position is far removed from their minds.

It's fair to say a number of things have conspired to put the 'Cats in their current position.

With the addition of the Kentucky Horsemen to the American Conference West Division in a league offseason realignment, every team in the division was a playoff team last season. The 'Cats' out-of-division schedule includes two of the top teams from last year - Arkansas Twisters and Spokane Shock - making their overall schedule one of the toughest in the league.

Throw in a mostly rookie class on the defensive side of the ball, and it's easy to understand why the Firecats find themselves in such an unfamiliar position.

"No doubt about it, our schedule this year has been brutal," said Firecats coach Kevin Bouis. "Our schedule this year is by far the hardest schedule we've ever faced since I became coach."

In spite the schedule difficulty, the Firecats still have to play each week, and tonight's test could be the toughest of the year.

The Shock (6-0) are the league's only unbeaten team left. They have lost only two games in the last two seasons, and are fresh off an appearance in the 2008 Arena Bowl.

"They like to go up and down the field and rely on long touchdowns," said Bouis. "Fortunately, we haven't given up that many of those this year so that is a plus for us. It all starts with their quarterback. It seems like every week we are facing one of the top quarterbacks in the league."

Although Shock QB Nick Davila is ranked eighth in the league in passing yards per game, he is on pace to set the league record in touchdown completions.

"We have been watching a lot of film this week on them," Bouis said. "If we can play mistake-free football we should have a good chance to upset these guys."

The Firecats and Shock kick it off at 7:35 Saturday night at Germain Arena.



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