AFL season in review

Jacksonville Sharks make it to conference championship, fall to Soul


A tumultuous season for the Jacksonville Sharks ended against the Philadelphia Soul in the Arena Football League (AFL) American Conference Championship, as the Sharks fell by a 55-50 count at PPL Center in Allentown, Pa.

The Sharks did erase a 15-point second-half deficit against the Soul, but a six-yard touchdown pass from QB Dan Raudabaugh to Darius Reynolds with four seconds left proved the winner.

In the loss, Sharks QB Tommy Grady completed 21 of his 31 passes for 245 yards and six touchdowns against one interception. Joe Hills led the Sharks with 13 catches for 142 yards and five scores, while Reggie Gray caught five passes for 64 yards and notched the Sharks’ other touchdown catch. Derrick Ross totaled nine yards on three carries.

On defense, Micheaux Robinson and LaRoche Jackson each recorded 8.5 total tackles, while Hyland made 3.5 stops to go along with his pick-six. Dexter Jackson notched two solo tackles, a sack and a safety, while Alvin Ray Jackson recorded two tackles and an interception.

In what was the fourth Conference Championship matchup between the teams in the last five seasons, Philadelphia earned its third ArenaBowl berth at the Sharks’ expense.

Jacksonville’s win in the 2015 conference title game is its lone postseason victory against the Soul, as Philadelphia is the only team to have beaten the Sharks more than once in the playoffs.

That was the kind of season the Sharks (7-10) endured: a coaching change, rallying from early losing skids and having multiple players honored by the league.

Four Sharks earned spots on the AFL’s 2016 All-Arena teams. Wide receiver Hills, offensive lineman Cornelius Lewis and defensive back Greg Reid earned First Team honors, while Dexter Jackson was selected to the Second Team.

 In July, the Sharks announced that head coach Les Moss had been fired. Moss was the only head coach since the team’s inaugural season in 2010 and is 77-54 overall with the Sharks. Moss is 70-50 during regular season and 7-4 in the playoffs.

During Moss’ tenure, the Sharks have made it to two Arenabowls including a 73-70 victory over the Arizona Rattlers in Arena Bowl XXIV in the team’s second season, won two American Conference Championships (2011 & 2015) and four South Division titles (2010-2013.)

The past three seasons have fallen short of expectations, with Moss posting a 22-28 regular season record. The Sharks also have not hosted a playoff game since 2013.