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Tennessee Valley Vipers look for repeat success in af2 playoffs


Tennessee Valley's Arena Cup ring

Last season the Tennessee Valley Vipers lost their final regular season home game to the South Georgia Wildcats.

Subsequently, the Vipers reeled off four straight wins, including a victory in the af2 championship game.

It is deja vu all over again for Tennessee Valley as the Wildcats upended the Vipers 47-45 in the home finale last week, but the loss was not enough to keep the Vipers from claiming the division championship.

Thus leaving the Vipers as the No. 3 seed in the 2009 Arena Cup playoffs.

Coming to the Von Braun Center on Saturday night will be Midwest Division foe, Green Bay Blizzard.

The Blizzard knocked off the Vipers in the season opener at the Resch Center in Green Bay, but the Blizzard fell to the No. 6 seed in the playoffs after faltering late down the stretch.

Green Bay has a variety of weapons that it will bring to the VBC.

Quarterback Gino Guidugli has thrown 61 touchdowns on the season, but has also tossed 16 interceptions. He is just 87 yards shy of 4,000 passing yards on the year.

The favored target for Guidugli is Nate Forse. Forse leads the Blizzard in every receiving category. His 117 yards per game is one of the tops in the league as well.

Veteran ironman Robert Garth has been as good as ever in his sixth year for the Blizzard out of New Mexico State. His 971 yards receving is second on the team as is his 18 touchdown receptions. Defensively, Garth has two interceptions, one against the Vipers in the season opener.

Anthony Crissinger-Hill is the third option at wide out for the Blizzard. In just six games, Crissinger-Hill has tallied 10 touchdowns and 530 receiving yards. He completes a very good trio of receivers for the Blizzard.

Green Bay ranks four spots ahead of Tennessee Valley as the 12th best scoring offense in the league, averaging 52.7 points per contest, while the Vipers put up just 49.6 points.

Across the ball, Tennessee Valley boasts the league's second best defense, but is only one-tenth of a point away from being the top scoring defense in the league at 37.7 points given up. Green Bay is the seventh best defense in the league giving up just 48.6 points a game.

Tennessee Valley will counter the Blizzard on offense with Kevin Eakin and a plethora of wide receivers.

Eakin set a Vipers single-season record for touchdown passes last week and now has 85 tosses on the year. He has not thrown an interception since the sixth game of the season and has only lost one fumble on the year.

Leading the way for the receivers will be Jeremy Grier. Grier has 23 touchdown catches on the season and over 1,000 yards total.

Grier will be complimented by Larry Shipp, who has 18 touchdown grabs in just nine games. Along with Michael Johnson, who will return from injury.

Tennessee Valley has thrown the least interceptions of anyone in the league, with just eight between the two signal callers. However, the Vipers have only picked off 15 passes, good enough for 17th in the league.

Green Bay has 24 interceptions on the year, including two against the Vipers in the season opener.

Tennessee Valley will have to advantage of playing in the VBC, where the team is 7-1 on the year. Green Bay has no traveled for a playoff game since losing at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on August 18, 2007 in the conference finals.