Rattlers' Germaine No Match for Orlando
by Brian Knapp
Tuesday February 8, 2005

The fans blamed the officiating. I blamed QB Joe Germaine. We were both wrong.

The Arizona Rattlers came up short Thursday night because they were simply outplayed by one of the better teams in the league. The Orlando Predators brought their A-game defensively, holding the Rattlers to a disappointing 40 points. Arizona scored 58 points a week ago in a run-way victory at Grand Rapids.

The main difference between this week and the previous week was significant. The Rattlers were without QB Sherdrick Bonner, who sat out the first of two games with a right knee bruise. With Bonner on the sidelines, the spotlight fell on Germaine who has only seen backup time in the AFL.

Luckily for the Rattlers, some of that time was spent in week one’s 20-point win over the Rampage. Germaine completed all three of his passes including a touchdown to WR/DB Wilson Thomas. The Rattler faithful, while on edge about starting someone without the No. 13 on his jersey, stood behind their QB; sort of.

Germaine got off to a sluggish start, hitting just one of his first six passes, including an interception. "There are so many things I could have done better," Germaine said. "I think I have good timing with my receivers but I need to play better and really watch the film from this game and go from there."

The three-headed monster of Predator DS’s Kenny McEntyre, Damon Mason, and Reggie Doster blanketed the secondary like sunshine on the Arizona desert. "They were a little handicapped and we knew that," McEntyre said. "Even with Bonner out, our main goal was to come in here and play solid defense and win."

Mason earned his defensive player of the game honor with a game high seven tackles. McEntyre added an interception and three pass break ups, while Doster had a quiet night with one pass breakup.

"Last season they had the best defense in the league," Germaine said. "But there’s no excuse for the way we came out and played, especially myself."

Orlando’s solid defense provided the catalyst that fueled a 32-7 run to open the game. Rattler fans quickly buried their heads into their hands in frustration. Frustration would turn to hope later in the game, however, when Thomas played a little defense of his own returning an interception for a touchdown. The score pulled Arizona within five and what was unlikely suddenly became possible.

What happened next proved to be the momentum swing that ultimately deflated Arizona’s hopes of a victory. Head coach Todd Shell reached into his bag of tricks and called an onsides kick following the touchdown. The fans blew up in anger as the Rattlers’ apparent recovery of the kick was reversed because the ball was being bobbled as the mob of players fell out of bounds. The Predators capitalized on their possession when FB/LB Idris Price scored from six yards out to increase the lead to 46-34.

Germaine found his rhythm later in the second half, but his 32-yard strike to OS Siaha Burley was too little, too late, as the Predators ran off the final minute.

"The AFL season is a marathon, not a sprint," Germaine said. "We just need to learn from this and try to rectify the mistakes we made and try not to make them again."

Thursday’s loss proved to fans that blame in the AFL can often be replaced by reason.

"The officiating wasn’t why we lost this game," Shell said. "Things happen in the game and they [officials] handled us pretty good. The officials didn’t drop the ball and miss blocks."

And neither did Germaine.

Brian Knapp is an 19 year-old rookie of ArenaFan.com, currently attending Arizona State University. He is studying journalism and mass communications to eventually attend the Walter Cronkite School. Brian has been a Rattler fan since 1993, attending countless games over the years with his father. He is very eager to get his journalism career under way.