After playing in two opponents' home openers, Derrick Reeves is ready for tonight's game.
Reeves, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound offensive/defensive lineman, played at Butler High School before playing at Georgia Southern. Now local fans can watch as he takes his game indoors.
The Augusta Stallions will open their inaugural arenafootball2 season tonight when they play host to the Jacksonville Tomcats at 7:30 in the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center. Tickets are still available.
"It's real exciting that we've been to two games, and they've both been home openers for the other teams," Reeves said. "I'm real anxious to see how our fans are going to be and how they react to the game.
"When we went to Jacksonville, even though it was their home opener, it was my first game playing arena ball, and I was jacked up. The fans were talking trash and leaning over the boards. I was into the game."
The Tomcats won their earlier meeting with the Stallions 37-35.This time Augusta may have the advantage, the Stallions say.
"It'll finally be nice to come out of the locker room and not get booed," offensive/defensive lineman Matt Kinsinger said. "Jacksonville had a packed house, and it was loud. Whenever we ran our offense we couldn't even hear the quarterback cadence. So hopefully they'll cheer and make it difficult for them to hear the quarterback cadence and give us that little home-field advantage."
Tomcats quarterback Matt Vogler suffered a bruised shoulder in last week's game and is out for at least two weeks. Joining Vogler on the injury list is fullback/linebacker Terrence Flagler, who injured his hand and is questionable for tonight's game.
"They're a little battered right now," Stallions head coach Mike Neu said. "They've got a couple of different faces in there. But we can only control what we can control. We're prepared for any situation which may come up."
After a 63-47 win over Charleston last week, Neu added to the roster a pair of offensive/defensive linemen, Clarence Williams (6-4, 265) and Kelvin Frazier (6-3, 300). The team released fullback/linebacker Eric Neff.
Augusta fans will have to get used to the nets and the walls that come into play in arena football. Reeves already has begun to appreciate the walls.
"I've smashed a couple (of players) into the boards the last couple of games," he said. "I'm not looking forward to getting smashed into it myself. I've had a couple of incidents ... It's real tight over there. You hit 'em into the boards and it's not really going to hurt anybody, but you get their attention."
Reeves hopes the new sport will grab the attention of his hometown.
"I think it's something the people here will really like," he said. "We get a lot of people who go see hockey, but hockey is something new to us in the South. We grow up watching football and playing football. This is something new that the Augusta community can get involved in."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222.
Who: Jacksonville Tomcats (2-0) at Augusta Stallions (1-1)
What: Stallions arenafootball2 home opener
Where: Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
Radio: WRDW (1480-AM)
Tickets: A limited number of tickets for tonight's game remain. Call the civic center box office at 724-2400.
Notes: After a 1-1 road swing, the Stallions return to Augusta to play host to the Tomcats in their home opener.
Augusta quarterback Aaron Sparrow threw eight touchdown passes in the Stallions' 63-47 win over Charleston on Saturday. Sparrow leads the league in passing yards (255.5) and is second in pass rating (127).
Because of injuries sustained at Tallahassee last weekend, starting quarterback Matt Vogler (shoulder) is out and fullback/linebacker Terrence Flagler is questionable for the Tomcats.