Following the River City Raiders’ 45-34 season-opening victory over the Alabama Outlawz two Saturdays ago, one could easily notice a little extra pep in Greg Moore’s step.
A well-seasoned sideline sage of local semi-pro football, the “Chief” had experienced plenty of winning campaigns, some of which were highlighted by national championships, but the Raiders’ 11-point triumph at Family Arena helped Moore reach a new personal benchmark.
“I’m not new to the game, but this is my first head coaching assignment in arena football…and it feels good,” he said of the win.
This Saturday, Moore and the Raiders (1-0) continue their inaugural voyage in Arena Pro Football (APF) in a turf tussle against the Florida Tarpons (2-0). Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and admission is free with tickets acquired at this link.
The battle between unbeatens is the second of three consecutive home games at Family Arena and River City looks to re-create winning ways in the showdown.
“We have to build on our advantages and our strengths,” said Raiders’ quarterback Kevis Hamilton, who finished the home opener with four end zone passes.
Receiver DeAndre Jackson was significant in scoring with a pair of end zone snares as well as an Alabama missed field-goal returned for a touchdown.
Alongside the veteran, Raiders’ catching corps will be paced Saturday by Johnnie King III and Gary Jackson, who each snagged six-point strikes at the season opener. The offensive line will be stacked by Anthony Jackson, Darrivs Ford and Lawrence Smith.
River City’s defense also rose to the occasion while the clock ticked away. While the squad scored 17 points uncontested over the span of two quarters, the defense – paced by linebackers Kris Williams and Rodarious Whittier, defensive backs Tim Hamm-Bey and Bryan Lowery and linemen Kevin Adams, Darrivs Ford, Bernard Quinn and Keenan Mace – held the Outlawz to seven points altogether in the second half.
“They were really, really important,” said Jackson of his teammates’ stoppages. “They played their butts off and I want to give a big shout out to them.”
Kicker James Neal, who played at Lindenwood University, had a solid AFP debut with 4-of-6 PATs converted and a 43-yard field goal for seven total points.
Saturday’s opponent is a seasoned squad that is already projected to be a potential entrant for the APF title game based on their pair of very powerful wins duly claimed.
The Florida Tarpons were christened as a franchised five indoor football seasons ago and during that span have appeared in four title games and have claimed a pair of national championships. Last year, the Tarpons were eliminated in the national semifinals of the American Indoor Football (AIF) playoffs.
With enthusiasm found as a newcomer to the six-team APF, the Germain, Florida collective have punished in-league opposition at a pair of home games. Their 42-18 triumph over Alabama Outlawz in early March was followed by a 70-26 thrashing of Savannah Coastal Outlaws later that month.
Led by quarterback Austin Trainor, the Tarpons receiving roster contains veterans David Lewis, George Whigham and Zach Culvahouse while 6-2, 270-pound crusher Rob Taylor churns the running game. Offensive lineman Mike Dunn is also known for snaring passes for touchdowns.
In short, this multi-faceted team is about as dangerous as it gets for the locals. When looking at triangulation involving common opponent Alabama, both the Raiders and the Tarpons scored similar points yet the Floridians surrendered fewer points.
That being said, the Raiders’ second-half lock down of the Outlawz after adjustments was spot-on and that play must be present again Saturday.
“We’ve got to handle our defensive assignments a little better,” assessed “Chief” Moore.
As projected, Saturday’s showdown is anticipated to be a barn-burner.
For more information on the River City Raiders, go to their official website.
Arch City Sports will have a recap from the game posted Sunday.