LandSharks play waiting game

06/12/02 Lake Charles American Press
The toughest obstacle for the Lake Charles LandSharks the next few weeks will be to not look too far ahead, and to heal.

With three games remaining in the regular season, the LandSharks have the Atlantic Division and a first round playoff game in Lake Charles firmly clinched.

If the season were to end today, Lake Charles (10-1) would get the second seed and host Alexandria in the first round. Ohio Valley holds the best record in the NIFL and would host the conference final if those two teams advance, but the LandSharks would host a championship game.

None of the three remaining teams on their schedule sporting a winning record. The combined opponents record is 10-21, including 5-16 for their two road opponents. Alexandria comes to Lake Charles Saturday, June 22 in the last regular season game at home.

Unless Ohio Valley begins losing games, the main thing up in the air for the LandSharks is home field advantage if they reach the championship game. Lake Charles is one game ahead of Bismarck for the second best record and at least two games ahead of any other Western Division foe.

Knoxville has the third best record in the Atlantic Division, but would be the fourth seed in the playoffs behind the Atlantic East winner.

With the three remaining games, LandSharks coach Kip Texada said the focus will be on healing injuries and continuing to improve.

Texada is not looking to throw in any wrinkles on offense or defense, just to continue getting better and having new quarterback Brock Bailey, who joined the team for a 53-19 win over Biloxi, get used to his new teammates.

"You can't overlook anybody, but we'll just keep working on getting better," Texada said.

That can be taken to mean how well the team performs and how many players can stay off the injured list.

Dr. David Hardey, the team physician who also works as the special teams coach, has been keeping busy the past several weeks as injuries piled up.

"When 215 to 315-pound guys are pounding on each other, guys are going to get beat up," Hardey said. "A lot of these guys have been playing through injuries, (offensive lineman) Brent Anderson, who has been playing with a sprained wrist, is one example."

Running back Byron Allen, who has missed the last four games with a fractured fibula, is scheduled for an X-ray next week and could return in two or three weeks.

The Sharks will give starting defensive backs Warren St. Junious (sprained MCL) and Anthony Porter (strained hamstring muscle), both of whom were potentially going to be ready for Saturday's game at Enid, Oklahoma, another week to rest.

The LandSharks health in the playoffs should be aided by a bye in the final week of the regular season.

"Having the bye week the last week of the season is going to be a big help resting up bumps and bruises and getting ready for the playoffs," Texada said.

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