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Midweek madness: Sharks gain desired QB, make big trades

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Before the season started, the Jacksonville Sharks made what could be considered the biggest gamble in franchise history, trading veteran starting quarterback Bernard Morris and linebacker Matt Marcorelle for the rights to QB Aaron Garcia (6’1”, 195 lbs). With no one reporting to their respective teams, it didn’t look like it would work out well for anyone. On Monday, that all changed, as Aaron Garcia reported to Sharks practice for the first time.

Jacksonville activated him from the Refused to Report list, and to compensate, the team traded QB Kyle Rowley and defensive back Tracy Belton to Orlando to complete the trade.

This will be the second consecutive year the 43-year-old Garcia’s joined a team during the season. Last year, he led the Orlando Predators from an 0-5 start to a playoff berth and a near upset of the eventual American Conference champion Philadelphia Soul. This year, he comes out of retirement to begin his second stint as a Shark.

Garcia led Jacksonville to their first two division titles, and threw a career-high 116 touchdown passes against only 17 interceptions during the 2011 regular season. If that wasn’t enough, he captured his elusive first ArenaBowl championship by throwing for 402 yards and eight touchdown passes (both records), including the game-winner to Jeron Harvey on the last play of the game.

He’s been a bit of a journeyman the last two seasons, adding time with the San Antonio Talons and the San Jose Sabercats to his stay in Orlando. He looks to add to his record 1,304 career touchdown passes, and potentially garner his ninth season of at least 90, or perhaps his sixth of at least 100.

Jacksonville also did themselves favors on defense this week, announcing that veteran Jack linebacker Charlie Hunt (6’4”, 225 lbs.) has also returned to the team. The 31-year-old, enters his third season in the Arena Football League, but has not seen any game action since 2012.

That season, he made 14 starts at Jack linebacker, ranking third on the team with 51 total tackles (37 solo). He also recorded eight pass breakups, caught two interceptions and forced a fumble.

His rookie year, Hunt appeared in 13 games (starting 12), totaling 55.5 tackles and 2.0 for loss. In a game against the Iowa Barnstormers, Hunt had a single-game franchise record three interceptions. To this day, he remains the only Shark to accomplish such a feat.

Hunt isn’t new to the indoor game, having played two seasons for the American Indoor Football Association’s Utah Saints in 2009, and the Wyoming Cavalry in 2010. A Jacksonville native who attended Episcopal School, Hunt spent his collegiate career at Florida State University.

The only question heading into this Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Storm will be special teams, as Jacksonville will rely on kicker Fabrizio Scaccia, who has only made 10 of 17 extra points this season, and missed his only field goal attempt. During the week, he was placed on, and reactivated from, inactive reserve.

For more on the Jacksonville Sharks, including the latest news, updates, and transactions, log on to www.jaxsharks.com. For more on the rest of the Arena Football League, log on to www.arenafan.com and www.arenafootball.com.

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