It's summer. Summer is long and there is little sports news to report. Thus, we here at the CGB are having a hard time filling content this summer. Even though we're from an elite academic institution (so very elite!), the #1 public university in America (we're #1!), and the best UC of the UCs (although UCR is a darn close 2nd), we're running out of ideas. EPIC PHAIL. So with our creativity shot, and desperation settling in, we've turned to other sports and players that are only tangentially related to Cal. Please excuse our failure to provide you with hi kwality Cal blogging that u have come 2 expekt from graduates of such a elite akademik instutushun. With that, we now present you with a post on arena football.
So on Saturday night, I found myself in the hot California central valley with not much to do on a Saturday night. Being a bit bored, I thought I might go to an arena football game since it was only $11 for a cheap end zone ticket.
I had never been to an arena football game before but thought I'd give one a try. There is an arena football team in Stockton, CA called the Stockton Lightning. For those of you who don't know where Stockton is, it's about 40 miles south of Sacramento. There's not a lot in Stockton, yet there happens to be a minor league hockey team or something, a minor league baseball team, and an arena football team. Oh, and Stockton is the hometown of former Cal Bear Lavelle Hawkins, and current Cal Bear Tad Smith... and yours truly.
Incidentally, former Cal offensive lineman Bryan Deemer is supposedly on the Stockton Lightning so I figured I had someone to root for at the game. But then I on the online roster that he is inactive. Bummer.
On the other hand, Lavelle Hawkins' cousin, Ruben Jackson, is a WR for the Lightning. Ruben Jackson went to Oregon State. This is his rookie year in the arena league.
Because there were no other Cal players on the roster, I figured I'd root for Ruben Jackson since he is somewhat related to Lavelle Hawkins, and Hawk went to Cal, so... by the strange laws of loyalty, that means I'm rooting for Ruben. Or something.
The Stockton Lightning were playing the Spokane Shock. I think the name "Shockers" would have been better. Could you imagine their players throwing up the shocker every time they scored or made a big play?
As I walked into the arena, they had just started up the national anthem. Immediately I debated whether I should emphasize the "you see," yell out "blue," and "home of the BEARS!!!" I figured this wasn't the place and most people in the crowd wouldn't get it and just look at me funny.
Here's a shot of the arena. The field is 50 yards long. The goal posts is the narrow landing strip area. There are huge nets on both ends of the field to keep kickoffs in play (which must be returned out of the end zone to prevent safeties).
Below is a picture of the pre-snap formation. Cal is utilizing 3 WRs and does not have a tailback in play. Also note that Cal has decided that they don't need 5 offensive linemen and prefer 3 instead. Tedford has totally re-vamped the offense... amazing! Okay, I suck at being funny. But seriously, note that there are only 8 men on the field for each team. Most teams use 3 OL, 1 HB/FB, and 3 WRs for offense; and 3 DL, 2 LBs, and 3 DBs for defense.
Below is a gratuitous cheerleader shot. You are welcome.
And who scores the Stockton Lightning's first touchdown? None other than our man Ruben Jackson who promptly ran to this end of the field to toss the ball into the stands to someone he knew (picture below; Ruben Jackson is the guy on the 10 yard line).
Below, the always-soft Lightning defense gives up 6 on a QB sneak.
Then, perhaps the highlight of the night was when the Lightning QB skipped an incomplete pass off the turf (like a stone skipping across water) and nailed a cheerleader in the face. Below, you can see two of her cheerleading girlfriends tending to her (the injured cheerleader is mostly hidden behind the cheerleader who is kneeling).
Actually, the highlight of the night was probably watching the Stockton Lightning fake a PAT with a placeholder keeper right, then attempt to lateral the ball across the field to the kicker. Only, the placeholder rainbowed his lateral at least 20 yards into the air which hung in the air like a chandelier, and got picked off by a defender and returned to the house for 2 points the other way. No wonder why these guys are in the arena league. Anyways, back to the cheerleaders... and 3 plays later the poor gal is still down. By this time two trainers came over to check her out.
Damn, cheerleading is one dangerous sport. Those girls need to be wearing helmets. I'm not really sure the pom poms are necessary and have any safety value. They could do away with those. But for the love of Tedford, get rid of the halter tops and mini-skirts. Those are definitely not necessary! Not at all!
Below, the always accurate Lightning QB drops back to pass. Actually, he was hardly "always accurate." And for the love of Tedford, if you guys think Longshore is bad, you'd gladly take Longshore over this guy. The Lightning QB's thought process was something like this: dropback... nobody is open... panic... run around... force a pass into triple coverage... DOH! I mean seriously... this guy threw 2 INTs in his first 10 passes or so. On the bright side, he did scamper for like a 40 yard touchdown which is something we'll never see Longshore do unless Jessica Simpson is in the endzone.
In the picture below, some nutjob in the stands put up his hands like he's open. Throw it to me! Throw it to me!!!
Anyways, it was a sort of entertaining night. I definitely prefer regular football since it actually has some defense in it - it's quite common for arena football teams to put up 50-70 points in a game. Although, in this game, the Lightning lost to the Shocks 65-47. But the Lightning were 4-10 going into this game so I guess the outcome of this game wasn't that much of a... shock.
So I didn't see Deemer. Ruben Jackson only had 1 TD catch. Only 1 cheerleader got injured, and I didn't get an out of bounds ball (fans get to keep balls which go into the stands). I really wanted a ball. I would have given it to TwistNHook. God knows he needs a pair.