07/10/2018 1:00 AM -
By Mick Moninghoff
This week the Massachusetts Pirates will use a bye week to rest up for their final three games of the regular season and then embark on the team’s first ever playoff run. The Pirates, currently in second place in the National Arena League with a 9 and 4 record, will look to make good use of their home field advantage in an effort to secure a home playoff game. Two of their final three games will be in Worcester at the DCU Center where the team sports a 5-1 record. The schedule won’t be easy as on July 21, the Carolina Cobras, who have won both meetings this season, will make an appearance in front of Pirate Nation. The Pirates will then go on the road and look to secure the season series from the Jacksonville Sharks before returning home to close out the regular season against the much improved Lehigh Valley Steelhawks on August 4.
“We’re a little banged up so we need to get some treatment and get healthy,” said head coach Ameer Ismail. “When we come back we need to hit our stride for the final three game stretch which will be tough, but as long as we take care of business we should be in the driver’s seat.” he added.
Currently the Pirates are scoring 55.3 points per game while allowing 44.7. When it comes to running the football Massachusetts trails its opponents by only seven net yards on the season but the passing numbers are a different story. In 13 games the Pirates have 723 more yards through the air and 26 more touchdowns than the opposition.
The defense has an impressive plus 10 turnover margin with ten fumble recoveries and 26 interceptions. Kiante Northington leads the league with ten interceptions and tops the Pirates with 19 passes broken up. John Hardy-Tuliau, the leading tackler on the team with 55 stops, also had six picks this season. Linebacker Nick Haag leads the squad with ten tackles for a loss and teammate Pasqual Vacchio has three interceptions and is tied for the team lead with two defensive touchdowns. JD Griggs leads players along the defensive front with seven sacks.
On the other side of the ball quarterback Sean Brackett continues to put up impressive numbers. Brackett leads the NAL in yards per completion (12.2), yards per attempt (7.5) and average yards per play (7.3). Brackett has completed 62 percent of his passes going 230 of 369 for 64 touchdowns against 16 interceptions.
Currently the Pirates have four receivers who have 47 or more receptions this season. Leading the way is Devonn Brown who tops the league with 19.6 yards per catch. Brown has a team high 20 touchdowns and 915 receiving yards on 47 receptions. Lavon Pearson leads the Pirates with 63 catches while adding 717 yards and 16 scores. Mardy Gilyard has 54 grabs for 536 yards and 14 TD’s (plus three rushing touchdowns) and Bones Bagaunte rounds out the quartet with 49 receptions for 532 yards and 13 scores. In seven games this season Bagaunte is also number one in the NAL with 114.6 all-purpose yards per game. His coach say’s Bagaunte can set the tone for a game for the rest of his teammates.
“He does some really good things when he gets the ball. He’s very shifty, quick and explosive. He’s a playmaker who plays with a lot of passion and energy. When he’s going everybody gets going as everybody feeds off of that,” Ismail said.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. Pirate Nation Season Ticket Memberships for the 2018 season are now available. Pirate Nation Memberships start as low as $60.00. To become a Pirate Nation Season Ticket member or for more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For group outings please call Kara Mancini at 508-929-0125 or email email@example.com. Follow the Pirates on facebook at facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates.