Spartans hope to make most of second chance

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The Augusta Spartans don't want to wait another week.

They'd rather go ahead and lock up a first-round home playoff game and not have to worry about winning the regular-season finale next week.

"We shouldn't be in this situation, but we are, and we need to take care of business," coach Bubba Diggs said. "We don't want it to come down to next week."

For the second consecutive week, the Spartans can clinch the No. 2 seed in the World Indoor Football League, guaranteeing them a matchup with the Osceola Ghostriders at James Brown Arena in three weeks.

Augusta takes on the last-place Daytona Beach Thunder, which have been eliminated from postseason contention, tonight at home. A win and an Osceola loss at Columbus clinches the second seed.

"The guys seem focused. It's up to them," Diggs said. "We know how serious this game is in regards to getting home field for the playoffs. So we'll see which team shows up."

Augusta has played like two different teams all season, sometimes dominant and sometimes shaky at best.

Last week's 46-43 loss to Osceola - Augusta's first home loss of the season - was a classic example of inconsistency. The Spartans blew an early 21-point lead with a sloppy second half when a win would have sealed the playoff seeding.

The Columbus Lions (9-2) already have won the regular-seaosn championship and will play host to the winner of the first-round game for the World Indoor Bowl on June 29 or June 30.

Diggs said he doesn't expect Daytona Beach to lie down, even though it has been eliminated.

"They're coming here to play ball. They want to be a spoiler," Diggs said. "They've got a lot of pride."

Augusta's offense isn't expected to be as predictable as in recent weeks.

"We've got too many weapons to be one- dimensional," Diggs said. "We're going to spread the ball around, hit the open man, just play the game the way it's supposed to be played."

The Spartans are 4-1 at home, with tonight's and next week's finale at James Brown Arena.

"We want to continue to have that good home record," Diggs said. "We want to come out 6-1 here, which would be my dream."

Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or steven.l.sanders@augustachronicle.com.

GAMENIGHT


Daytona Beach Thunder at Augusta Spartans

When: 7:30 tonight


Where: James Brown Arena


Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com, (706) 828-6888


Audio/Scoring: www.wifl.us


Records: Augusta 6-6, second; Daytona Beach 3-9, fourth


Key players: Augusta-QB Mike Rathe, WR Marvin Stone, WR Anthony Young, DB Richard Dykes, DL Voncellies Allen; Daytona Beach-QB Bo Bartik, QB Tavares Woodley, WR Cory McKinney, WR Barry Wagner, DB E.J. Gordon


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