Sharks Home Opener Looms Over 0-1 Albany Empire 

JACKSONVILLE, FL – The Jacksonville Sharks enter week two as they return home after their first loss of the 2022 season in a close overtime defeat on the road to their NAL rival the Columbus Lions. The Sharks were ahead the first three quarters but faltered in the fourth which led to a tie score as time expired throwing this team into a season opener overtime match against their rival surrounded by roaring fan base. The Sharks won the toss and elected to throw the Lions offense on the field first the Sharks defense put enough pressure to make some stops but ultimately the Lions scored on the overtime drive and the Sharks failed to secure a score giving the overtime victory to Columbus after a long three and half hour battle inside the Columbus Civic Center.

Jacksonville (0-1) looks to bounce back in front of their home crowd this week in the Sharks tank to what has been deemed the undisputed best fan base in the National Arena League securing all four “NAL Best Fans” awards. This week’s game will also be a tough opponent as the Sharks take on the defending Albany Empire (0-1) a team that nearly went undefeated last season if it was not for their single stop in Jacksonville, FL last year where the 0-2 Sharks defeated the 4-0 Albany Empire in Halloween in June nicknamed the "Nightmare on Bay Street" as former Shark Tommy Grady and the Empire suffered their only loss of the 2021 season unexpectedly falling to the Sharks 61-58. 

The Empire entered the 2022 season as a top contender but did not see the same pace as past seasons, falling to the Carolina Cobras last Saturday in their season opener in Albany, NY. The Cobras took the lead early and never gave it back, finishing off the defending champs in a close 59-51. Both the Sharks and Empire are top teams with fan bases with high expectations so it is no doubt both franchises enter practice this week with chips on their shoulder and an extreme need to win in week two. If the Sharks defeat the Empire the Sharks will be undefeated against the Albany Empire in Jacksonville and will deliver the Empire their first ever 0-2 in NAL history, the last time the Empire went 0-2 was their inaugural season in 2018 during their stint in the Arena Football League. 

Jacksonville will lean on its All-NAL talent as Sharks receiver Devin Wilson scored four touchdowns last week including three in the first half and his longest coming from a 30-yard pass by quarterback Malik Henry who finished the night throwing 29 completions for 239 yards and four touchdowns. Henry led the NAL last week in passing yards but did surrender two interceptions. If the Sharks can limit those turnovers Henry and Wilson under Burley will certainly wreak havoc on the 0-1 Empire defense that allowed the Cobras to 572 yards of total offense and 37 points allowed in the first half alone. The Sharks defense will need to put together a full four quarters of dominance as fans got a glimpse of their potential with an early interception to start the game, sacks, and qb pressure that allowed the Jacksonville Sharks to hold Columbus under 30 points in the first half of last week's game. Last year, Shark defensive back Kenny Veal had two interceptions against the Empire including one that went for a touchdown. Shark Nation will look for the team captain to rise to the occasion this year as well. 

The battle to watch will be between two quarterbacks, Albany collected former Shark quarterback Mike Fafaul who threw 21 completed passes for 251 yards and 6 touchdowns in the first game this season but also threw an interception and was sacked twice by Carolina. Sharks Malik Henry, debuted his first game as a Shark passing for over 239 yards and scoring  four touchdowns. Another matchup to watch is two of the top receivers in the NAL going head to head as Darius Prince did play Ironman week 1, as a receiver he scored three touchdowns, however, Wilson has the current lead racking up four receiving touchdowns in week 1. 

The Sharks home opener is Saturday April 30th, at 7pm. The Sharks are bringing back a spooky good time! Kids can enjoy Tricks & Treats at SharkFest before the Sharks kickoff against the Albany Empire for a great Halloween rematch. The First 1,500 fans in attendance will enjoy FREE Sharks inflatable thunder sticks. Not scared of the Empire? That’s okay we aren't either but you may be afraid of our spooky friends from the 13th floor will be around all night! Make sure you dress to impress in your favorite Halloween Costume as you could win our Sharks Costume Contest! Single game tickets start at just $12, to purchase call our ticket department at 904-621-0700. You can also watch the Sharks VS Empire on the NAL Youtube live! Follow @JaxSharks on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the game day link. Go Sharks!


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 Nation Memberships for the 2022 season are now available. To become a Shark Nation member or for more information please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on Facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter and Instagram @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.