Twice in the past five seasons, the Arizona Rattlers’ season has ended in heartbreak.
Before and after a run of three straight ArenaBowl titles from 2012 to 2014 are a Jacksonville Sharks’ touchdown pass as time expired in the 2011 ArenaBowl and a controversial San Jose SaberCats touchdown with less than ten seconds to play in the 2015 National Conference Championship Game.
“What I learned was you don’t put it in the referee’s hands,” head coach Kevin Guy told Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “And even instant replay doesn’t get it right either.”
Note: The controversial play/call can be seen in the video at the bottom of the post, beginning at the 2:05:52 mark.
The bitter taste left by the ending of that game played in Stockton, Calif. has re-ignited the fire underneath the head coach, who is entering his eighth season with the team.
“I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been going into this season. I’m excited about our roster and the guys we’ve signed during the offseason,” Guy said. “We’re not coming throught the back door this year. We’re coming right through the front door. We’re planning on not only playing for a championship — our plans are to host it.”
Guy pointed out that even through the franchise’s remarkable four-year run of success that included three championships and four straight ArenaBowl appearances, they didn’t win a title game at Talking Stick Resort Arena, which is affectionately known as “The Snakepit” to Rattlers fans.
Guy’s teams have experienced a level of success rarely seen in any professional league. Under his leadership, Arizona has gone 103-35 in seven seasons, winning more titles than the franchise’s previous 16 years combined and revitalizing the organization’s rabid, devoted fan base known as “The 9th Man.”
“I really think the Arizona Rattlers have fought hard and deserve a seat at the table in this market. We’ve won three championships out of the last four years,” he said. “I’m excited, not only with the direction of the league, but about the Arizona Rattlers.”
Lead by perennial MVP candidate Nick Davila under center and explosive receivers Rod Windsor and Kerry Reed, the Rattlers put points up in bunches; scoring 60 or more in ten games in 2015. Anchored by pass rushers Cliff Dukes and Tyre Glasper, as well as ballhawk safety Jeremy Kellem, Arizona’s fast, aggressive defense is also equal to any task.
The Rattlers kick off their 2016 season April 1 on the road against the Portland Steel. The Tampa Bay Storm will pay visit April 16 to open the Rattlers’ eight-game home schedule at “The Snakepit” — a building in which they’ve gone 50-6 since 2011.
“It’s just a hard place to come in and win at Talking Stick Resort Arena,” Guy said. “(The fans) do a great job. The players love playing in front of them, and we really do appreciate them.”
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