Tag Archives: Kyle Rowley

Game Preview: Portland Thunder (3-8) vs. Spokane Shock (3-8)

Let’s just call this one #TheStruggle. The Thunder enter the game coming off a four-game losing streak. The Shock have a three-game losing streak of their own. The teams struggled to score in their opening matchup, with Portland securing a four-point win, 47-43.

Game Day Breakdown: The Thunder have advantages in: Offensive turnovers, Defensive Yardage, Points Allowed. The Shock have advantages in: Offensive Yards, Points, and Success Rate; Defensive Success Rate and Turnovers Forced. Watch for Jared Perry, who went for 150 yards and 4 TDs last week.

In that game, Bryce Peila came up with an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble return for a touchdown helping overcome a 29-20 Shock lead at halftime.

Of course, in that game, Mike Washington led the Shock and Jamar Howard led the Thunder in receiving yards. Neither is expected to play. Former Thunder quarterback Danny Southwick is now a former Shock QB as well; he’s landed in Los Angeles and has helped them as they mount a turnaround on their season. Kyle Rowley may be backing up recent acquisition Alex Carder at quarterback for the Thunder.

With a previous matchup that went down to the wire and several differences in lineups since then, combined with mounting losses on the field, both personnel and record-wise, it’s tough to determine who has the advantage this week.

One thing’s for certain: After the recent wins by Los Angeles and Las Vegas, these two teams enter needing a win in order to feel comfortable heading into the final third of the season. Both teams trail the Outlaws by a game and both are ahead of the previously left-for-dead KISS by just a game.

And Duane Brooks will be exciting in the return game. He’s either one or two kick return touchdowns away from an AFL record for return touchdowns in a season. He’s also returned two for touchdowns in each of the past three games (unfortunately, one may count as a fumble recovery because he fumbled (and recovered) right before the line and another was called back on a phantom hold), so it’s not crazy to expect a couple on Sunday.

I said in my picks over on ArenaFan that Spokane would get even for the last game, and that the difference between this week and the last one is that Shox the Fox won’t interfere with their receivers. I won’t be that guy who picks both sides of a game, so I’m picking Spokane to win another tight game, 46-43.

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Game Photos: Arizona Rattlers 69, Portland Thunder 42

While I was covering Friday’s game, I was also taking photos. A few of the photos I took are up on Flickr now (it’s just so much easier to batch upload). Includes terrible refereeing, big plays, and fine work by a guy out there on the field for the pizza promotion.

In fact, I liked his action sequence so much I won’t make you go to Flickr to see it.

Pizza Challenger

Game Preview: Thunder vs. KISS

These teams epitomize the old maxim: The best kind of ability is availability. Unfortunately, they’re displaying its validity through their struggles with consistency due to injuries.

The Thunder (2-4) are coming off a bye, which fortuitously arrived after a brutal three-game stretch where they played consecutive road games against the three-time defending champions and both of the league’s currently undefeated teams. With a week of rest, they’ll look to topple the team who they beat to start the season, the Los Angeles KISS (0-7). After playing the Thunder close in Week 1, the KISS have been punching bags for the rest of the league, their smallest margin of defeat being 13 points.

Game Day Breakdown, Portland Thunder vs. LA KISS. Thunder 246.7 yards/game; KISS 265.3. Thunder 44 points/game; KISS 36.1. Thunder 12 turnovers; KISS 14. Thunder defense is surrendering 291.7 yards/game; KISS 268.9. Thunder surrendering 52.5 points/game; KISS 57.6. Thunder have forced 9 turnovers; KISS 5. Watch out for Darron Thomas, making his first start since the final game of 2014. Continue reading Game Preview: Thunder vs. KISS

You Can’t Go Home Again (Especially Wearing the Road Team’s Uniform)

Former Thunder QB Danny Southwick was the starter for the Spokane Shock as they visited Portland on April 9. Did his time in training camp help him or the Thunder? Were there any conflicts of interest among his former teammates? Why was he still in Portland throughout the weekend? Find all the answers in my newest article on ArenaFan.

Photos: Portland Thunder 47, Spokane Shock 43

Photos: Tampa Bay Storm 54, Portland Thunder 48

Jamar Howard’s Offseason Workout Plan

While wide receivers Eric Rogers (now in the CFL) and Douglas McNeil (now in the NFL) got the attention that comes with all the touchdowns last year, Jamar Howard was performing at a level rivaling them by the end of the 2014 season.

With those two gone to begin the season in 2015, Howard is now getting those end zone opportunities and putting up putting up numbers that compare favorably to last year’s top performers.

2014, Final 5 games Howard McNeil Other WRs combined
Receptions 39 40 42
Yards 558 443 412
TD 5 15 5

He also put in the work in the offseason to get himself ready to be the No. 1 receiver.

“My offseason was critical. I got in the best shape of my life, I lost 25 pounds – I just know my mind’s set on my ultimate goal, said Howard. “I worked my ass off to get to this point.”

Thunder Head Coach Mike Hohensee agreed: “He came in in tremendous shape. He really reinvented himself in the offseason; he wanted to be the guy we went to, and at this point, he is.”

The program was simple, consisting of a few simple steps:

  • Hit the weights. Howard had never considered that a priority before this offseason, and now he’s spending time in the weight room, shedding calories and maintaining muscle mass he’s gained.
  • Keep on schedule. Gone are the days where he’d be up late at night and make a run to McDonald’s or other fast food locations. Now he doesn’t eat after 10 p.m. and works on five smaller meals per day. He’ll have a cheat day here and there, but he’s “working out so much it doesn’t really matter.”
  • Cut the sweets. He also stopped eating candy and drinking soda. “I love drinking water now,” Howard said.
  • Run. From running routes while working out with quarterbacks Darron Thomas and Kyle Rowley to just plain running to build up cardiovascular endurance, he credits running with helping to keep him a step ahead of defenders, especially late in the game.

In addition to having the opportunity to “become unstoppable,” as Hohensee says, both Howard and Coach Hohensee have the same goal for Howard this season.

“I want him to be a champion,” said Hohensee. “I think he’s taken that to heart. Besides being a great receiver, he’s taken a leadership role. A lot of different issues have happened on and off the field with the team, ownership, whatever it is – he’s done a great job handling that. It’s a shame he’s not one of the captains, because he’s one of the guys that’s acting like one.”

For now, performing like a champion includes pushing himself harder than he’s ever pushed in practice, something that he sees his teammates doing along with him.

“I’m pushing myself in practice. I’m practicing a lot harder. I think we all do – we compete,” said Howard. “At practice, the defense doesn’t like us and we don’t like them. But when it comes time for the game, we’re all like brothers. We love each other.”

Howard leads the team with 114 yards receiving and three touchdowns after a star turn against the Los Angeles KISS. He also earned Highlight of the Week honors after catching a pass that sent him flipping over the wall in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. He’ll take the field hoping to exceed even that performance this Friday against the Tampa Bay Storm.