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#8216;Heroes host AIFA champs, Olive in key matchup

HUNTINGTON - Like the old saying goes, “If you want to be the best, you got to beat the best.”

The Huntington Heroes are no stranger to that saying. The Huntington Heroes will face their biggest challenge Saturday night, as they will host the reigning American Indoor Football Association champion Canton Legends at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Heroes head coach Garry McPeek, sees this game as a measuring stick for his ball club.

“This is a huge game this week,” said McPeek. “Our goal has always been from day one to bring a championship team to the city of Huntington and this game is going tell us where we stand,” said McPeek.

Heroes linebacker Michael “Kool-Aid” Owens, like McPeek, knows the importance of this game.

“This is going to be a big game for us and because it is in front of our crowd, makes it more exciting,” said Owens. “It’s going to be a real fun game Saturday.”

Canton, under second year head coach Bobby Olive, comes into Saturday’s showdown with a 2-0 record and hold sole possession of first place in the AIFA North Division.

Olive was a standout wide receiver with the Ohio State Buckeyes from 1987 to 1990. Olive is best remembered for his game-winning touchdown catch from Greg Frey against the LSU Tigers in 1988.

Last year the Legends swept the season series, but there were some questions raised about the win in Huntington.

The Legends had signed several players late in the week and did not give the appropriate time for the league to accept their final roster.

The league originally ruled that Canton would forfeit the game by using the “illegal” players.

Canton won the showdown in Huntington, 54-41. Canton appealed the game and the league office, which was based in Canton, overturned the decision and awarded the Legends the win.

Garry McPeek, on the other hand, wants the team to put its focus on this game.

“Last year is last year and this year is another year,” said Heroes head coach Garry McPeek. “We have a lot of respect for the Canton organization and coach Olive.”

Although this is a new season, Owens feels that nothing has changed with them personnel-wise.

“They got the same quarterback, and they got a very good wide receiver back from last year,” said Owens.

Canton will be riding into this game on the shoulders of one of the league’s top quarterbacks, Kevin Mason.

Mason picked apart a Heroes defense in last season’s matchup in Huntington completing 20 of 29 passes for 262 yards for five touchdowns en route to a 54-41 victory.

“We’ve just got to keep him contained because he’s real fast and can scramble around and make plays,” said Owens.

The Heroes hope to counter this potent offense with its defense and its first-year quarterback Jimmy Skinner.

The defense comes into the game after an impressive performance in a win last Friday against Johnstown, 35-24.

The Heroes were able to force four turnovers and one turning into a defensive score in the win.

Skinner notched his first win of his indoor career last week, going 20 of 33 for 184 yards and throwing two touchdowns.

Coach McPeek sees great improvement in the young quarterback.

“Things are going to get easier for him every game,” said McPeek. “The game will continue to slow down more and more for him and he’ll get more comfortable.”

Kick off is scheduled for 7 pm. Tickets are on sale at the Arena box office or by calling 304-696-4400. College students can get in for $8 with an ID and as always kids tickets are half-price.