Originally created 04/09/00

Despite loss, Stallions remain upbeat



JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Mistakes cost the Augusta Stallions Friday night in their inaugural game. Still, head coach Mike Neu felt good about his team after the game.

"I'm encouraged because I know we're going to get better," Neu said. "We had one ball off the net which was a mishap. That will get better with practice indoors."

The 37-35 loss to Jacksonville could have been an Augusta win if, with a minute left in the first half, the Stallions would have cleanly fielded a ball which bounced off the net, off the turf and into the hands of a Tomcat defender. That play led to a Jacksonville touchdown and an eight-point halftime lead.

Quarterback Aaron Sparrow said it was just one of those things that happen in the indoor game.

"Things happen in Arena football," he said. "During the kickoff, (the ball) takes funny bounces. It just went their way. We can't worry about that stuff."

Meanwhile, a poor block by an offensive lineman led to a safety in the second quarter when quarterback Aaron Sparrow was sacked in the end zone. In addition, the Stallions were assessed eight penalties in the game.

"We made one too many mental mistakes," wide receiver/defensive back R.J. Anderson said. "But then again, it's a great starting point. We know where we need to improve on offense, on defense and special teams."

"We know how and know where we need to get better at," Neu said. "Now it's my job as coach to review the film and address those problems that we can correct. They're all correctable problems, which is encouraging to me."

For several players, Friday's game took a toll after having to play on both sides of the ball.

"I don't think it played a big role, but that's something we can always get better at," Anderson said. "I think we're in good condition. For the past two weeks, coach has prepared us well for conditioning. You can always get in better shape, and that'll come as we go into the season and get acclimated into our arena when we get in there."

Augusta will continue to practice outdoors at Augusta State University's soccer field this week in preparation for its game at the Charleston Swamp Foxes on Saturday at 7 p.m.

"It's a long season," Sparrow said. "We've got 15 games left. And I guarantee you, if it's God's will, we will be in the championship."

NOTES:

The Stallions took a big hit Friday night when newly acquired fullback/linebacker Nakia Thomas went down with an ankle injury in the second quarter. The 6-foot, 250-pound Thomas, who stuffed Jacksonville's Terrence Flagler for a two-yard loss on the Tomcats' first play from the line of scrimmage, did not return to the game and is questionable for Saturday's contest.

Word around the arenafootball2 league is that Friday night's contest between Augusta and Jacksonville may have been a preview of the inaugural ArenaCup, the arenafootball2 equivalent of the Super Bowl.