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Despite Short Turnaround, Sharks Hope to Win It in the Desert

With less than four days rest following Monday night’s 64-55 victory against the Georgia Force, the Jacksonville Sharks hope to notch their first Arena Bowl championship in the franchise’s short history when they take on the league-leading Arizona Rattlers (18-2) tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the US Airways Center in Phoenix.

Arizona, which defeated Jacksonville 55-52 in the season opener back in March, is riding an eleven-game winning streak entering tonight’s contest.

In their previous meeting, the Sharks missed three point-after-touchdown attempts, proving to be the difference in that hard-fought game. Arizona, which lost only one game at home all season — losing a 50-49 nail-biter to the Chicago Rush on May 14 — scored 22 fourth-quarter points in defeating Jacksonville on March 18.

If the Sharks (16-4) had won that game, they would be hosting ArenaBowl XXIV at Jacksonville’s Veterans Memorial Arena tonight instead of traveling to the desert for the second time this season.

The Sharks, who are currently nursing a three-game winning streak of their own, rebounded magnificently from that early season loss to the Rattlers, reeling off an AFL single-season record of 13 consecutive victories to clinch the South Division title while guaranteeing themselves home field advantage in the first two rounds of the American Conference playoffs.

Jacksonville’s Aaron Garcia, who was named the Arena Football League’s offensive player of the year earlier this week, will be playing for his first AFL title tonight in a career that has spanned 17 years.

The 40-year-old Garcia broke a myriad of AFL career records this season for completions, touchdowns and total yards, including a career-high 128 touchdowns and 5,414 passing yards.

Despite having to play twice in the span of four days, some believe the short layoff could actually aid the Sharks. Among them is Arizona coach Kevin Guy.

“I think that goes in their favor,” Guy told the Arizona Republic on Tuesday. “You come out of a game healthy, you're right back into the next game and you keep the ball rolling. To me, we're not looking for any excuses and neither are they. You've got the two best teams in the league facing each other Friday night. It's going to be a heck of a battle.”

Tonight’s game will be broadcast live on the NFL Network.


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