Heroes-Freeze meet once again

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Just like the movie “Groundhog Day,” the Huntington Heroes are living the real life version.

Last Saturday night, the Heroes traveled to Erie and defeated the Freeze 45-44 in an American Indoor Football Association game. Now, both teams will have to suit it up again for the second time in less than a week.

The odd circumstance of back-to-back games was a concern for Heroes head coach Garry McPeek.

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“It’s different circumstances,” said McPeek. “This game is more of an advantage to the team that lost than it is for the winning team.”

But McPeek thinks his team stills has the upper hand on the Freeze.

“They’ll make adjustments, but so will we,” said McPeek. “We need this game for playoff position and I think our players will be ready for them.”

Although Erie comes into the contest with a record of 1-7, the Heroes are not the least bit deceived by it. The defensive side of the football is the major concern for McPeek.

“Their defense is solid,” said McPeek. “They have the same lineup as last year of Hammer, Germany, Cousins, and Smith.”

Erie’s defense has one of the biggest front lines in the league. The defensive line averages 6-foot-2, 291-pounds and the linebackers average 6-2, 250.

The Erie offense will look to utilize wide receivers Darmel Whitfield and Manny Johnson. Johnson leads the team in receptions and Whitfield is second. Between the two, they have 20 touchdowns.

Last week, the Heroes defense held the duo to only 44 yards on three receptions and one touchdown.

In spite of holding their top receivers in check, McPeek wasn’t satisfied with the defense.

“The defense needs to play better,” said McPeek. “We didn’t do as well as we have all year.”

Another familiar face on the Freeze roster is J.R. Cipra who was on the Canton Legends roster when they made their visit to Huntington earlier this season. He was able to keep the Freeze close as he was responsible for 14 of Erie’s 44 points.

After weeks of the offense sputtering, the Heroes turned to someone who hadn’t taken a snap in 14 years.

Dane Damron, who has been the Heroes’ quarterbacks coach for the past two seasons, suited up last weekend going 22 of 34 for 266 yards and five touchdown tosses. He also added a rushing touchdown.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” said McPeek. “I felt that we weren’t getting enough production from our other quarterbacks and I thought this gave us the best chance to win.”

Even though it was his first start, Damron felt he was able make an easy transition to the game.

“Going from coaching the game to playing has helped me out well,” said Damron.

Damron isn’t the only player on the Heroes roster to make the move as Heroes offensive lineman Nate McPeek came back to help anchor the offensive line.

As their promotion for this week’s game, all tickets will be sold at a discount price. Also, beer will be sold at half-price.

The game is set to kickoff is at 7:30.