Originally created 06/29/01

Matchup carries weight



As the Stallions go for their fifth road win of the year tonight, coach Mike Hold knows the stakes are high.

With a win at Roanoke (7 p.m.), Augusta most likely would clinch a playoff spot, with three games left in the arenafootball2 season.

"(A win) definitely would help," Hold said. "I think two more wins would definitely get us in. We're just taking it a game at a time."

Augusta (9-3) has the advantage of watching other teams in the American Conference eliminate each other in the run for the playoffs. The Stallions have a two-game lead over Macon (7-5) and Tallahassee (7-5) in the Southeast Division; the two teams will play the last week of the season.

Each conference gets four slots for the playoffs. Richmond and Augusta lead their respective divisions, while Carolina (9-3) and Macon hold the two wild-card positions.

Should the Stallions defeat Roanoke, they could run the table, with home games against Macon and Jacksonville before ending the season at Jacksonville. Augusta needs to win out and get help from Birmingham (10-2) and Richmond (10-2) if it wants to play host to a first-round playoff game. Tennessee Valley, Tulsa and Quad City all lead the playoff race at 11-1.

Hold said he doubts the Stallions will get to stay at home for the playoffs.

"A lot depends on what Richmond does and what Carolina does," he said. "I think (Tennessee Valley, Tulsa and Quad City) are locked (into the top-three positions) based on what I've seen on their schedules."

Roanoke has the sixth-rated total defense in the league. The Steam is allowing just 206.2 yards and 42.4 points a game.

Roanoke (6-6) revived itself with four straight wins midway through the season but has lost its steam recently. The team has dropped two of the past three games, including a 33-27 setback at Tennessee Valley. A loss tonight would severely dampen Roanoke's playoff hopes.

"Roanoke's got a very good defense," Hold said. "They proved that last week against Tennessee Valley. But we've faced some good (defenses). The bottom line is, it's a man-to-man game, and you attack their weak points and that's what we're going to try and do."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222 or cag112@hotmail.com.

Who: Augusta Stallions (9-3) at Roanoke Steam (6-6)

What: Stallions looking to extend win streak to two.

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Roanoke Civic Center (8,373)

Radio: WRDW (1630-AM)

Internet: www.augustastallionsaf2.com

Notes: This will be the least-intimidating road game the Stallions have all year. Roanoke is averaging a league-worst 2,384 fans a game and fills its arena to 28 percent capacity.

A win tonight would virtually lock up a playoff spot for Augusta. However, the Stallions need a strong finish in its final four games if they want to play host to a first-round game.