What’s needed to avoid losing season? Win out

  • By Bob Mortenson / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, June 14, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

EVERETT – The Everett Hawks need to roll a big six.

After falling to 2-8 after the latest heartbreaker – last Saturday’s 54-48 loss at Central Valley – Everett’s hopes of avoiding a losing season hinge on somehow finding a way to win six straight games.

It’s an extremely tall order for a team, which, though dramatically improved in recent weeks, mired itself into an 0-7 ditch to start its first season in arenafootball2.

The challenge starts Saturday with a road game against West division rival Stockton (4-6). The Lightning is the only opponent remaining on Everett’s schedule which has a losing record.

After closing the season series with Stockton – the teams split their first two meetings – the Hawks play three consecutive home games, facing Central Valley (6-4, June 24), Bakersfield (7-3, July 8) and Green Bay (5-5, July 15).

Everett closes out the season with games at Spokane (8-2, July 22) and Bakersfield on July 29.

If a minor miracle occurred and Everett defied the daunting odds to finish 8-8, what then?

Everett remains mathematically eligible for the playoffs. Two 8-8 teams qualified for the postseason in 2005, including Amarillo, which advanced to the second round before being eliminated.

Twelve of the league’s 23 teams qualify for the playoffs, including six from each conference. Four division champions – two from the American Conference and two from the National Conference – earn a first-round bye.

Four wild card teams from each conference square off, with the winners advancing to play against the division champions from their respective conferences in the second round.

Everett might seem easy fodder for a contender, but the marked improvement since Tony Wells was named head coach to replace Rickey Foggie on May 14 has made the Hawks a less attractive foe. The Hawks’ close road losses to talented teams (Tulsa on May 20 and Central Valley last Saturday) sandwiched around home victories over Stockton (May 27) and Birmingham (June 3) have not gone unnoticed.

“Nobody wants to play us right now,” said Wells who is 2-2 at the helm. “Talent wise we’re a lot better and we are playing with a lot more effort.”

Regardless of how the season plays out, Wells is taking the long-term view in terms of building a quality program.

“The biggest thing for me is I just want to make these guys and this organization better,” Wells said. “The wins will come.”

Of note

Xplorers rediscover top of coaches’ poll: For the second time this season, the defending ArenaCup champion Memphis Xplorers have been voted No. 1 in the weekly poll of af2 coaches. Memphis (8-2), which previously held the top ranking through the season’s first four weeks, received 255 of 264 possible points and 16 of 23 first-place votes. Florida (7-2) is No. 2.

Spokane’s two-week reign atop the poll ended with its 79-69 road loss to Louisville and the Shock slipped to No. 3 followed by Oklahoma City (7-3) and Tulsa (7-3). The Talons joined the top five for the first time this season after their 59-58 home victory over Oklahoma City.

Boise awarded af2 franchise for 2007: The af2 board of directors has approved an application from a limited liability corporation known as Idaho Sports Properties/Block 22 for an expansion team in Boise, Idaho for the 2007 season. Idaho Sports Properties – whose other ventures include the Idaho Steelheads minor league hockey team – own Qwest Arena where the as-yet unnamed af2 team will play home games.

Hawks get Satomi back: Defensive specialist Kohei Satomi, Everett’s international player who has seen limited action this season due to two major injuries (dislocated shoulder and a torn hamstring) has been cleared to play on Saturday.

“I’m excited to have Satomi back,” Wells said. “He’s a heart and soul kind of guy.”

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