by Alyssa Morris

JACKSONVILLE, FL – The Sharks (2-2) will return home for a game against the Albany Empire (1-3) on Saturday. After two weeks off, Jacksonville looks to recover from a heartbreaking one-point loss against Orlando on April 30. Albany last played on May 6 against the West Texas Warbirds, losing 41-38. After disappointing outcomes for both sides, the teams bring fresh legs into the season's first matchup. 

Last year, Jacksonville lost all three games against Albany, including a one-point loss in the playoffs. The Sharks played from behind for most of the game, ultimately losing 68-67 to the eventual back-to-back league champions. 

The regular season saw equal disappointment for the Sharks, with a week two overtime loss at the Tank after a missed extra point attempt ended the game, giving the Empire the 61-60 win. The Sharks struggled in week five against the Empire, losing 62-29 in Albany.

Both teams have seen changes on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball since that game. Most notably, Sam Castronova, former Albany quarterback and last season’s NAL Championship MVP, now plays in Jacksonville for the Sharks after being signed earlier this month. 

Jacksonville is 0-2 at the Tank this season, hoping to earn its first win at home after two one-point losses against San Antonio (63-62) and Orlando (61-60). This will be the first game for the Sharks without star quarterback Conor Blount. An injury during play in the last game has held him out of action, and Jacksonville awaits for a replacement as impactful as he has been to start the season. Before going down, Blount had 886 passing yards and 131 rushing yards on the year. 

The reigning NAL Champions have struggled so far in 2023, with many changes on and off the field. The team has yet to find a new quarterback to fill the role, and it may prove challenging to find one as versatile as Castronova. Their defense is strong, with Cornelius Lewis leading the team in tackles (14) and sacs (3). 

About the Jacksonville Sharks

The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the National Arena League (NAL).The 2019 & 2017 NAL Champions and ArenaBowl XXIV Champions play all their home games at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena. Sharks season tickets for the 2023 season are now available. To become a Shark Nation member or for more information please call (904) 621-0700 or visit https://www.jaxsharks.com/shark-nation-memberships Follow the Sharks on Facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter and Instagram @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.om/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.