Game Preview: Pirates vs. Xtreme

By: Oliver Nissi
Mass. Pirates Insider
April 24, 2021

The off-season is over. Today is gameday.

The Pirates arrived in Louisville, Kentucky yesterday for their first game of the season. They will face-off against the Louisville Xtreme tonight at the KFC Yum! Center, with kickoff set for 7:05 PM EST. Here’s what you need to know heading into the matchup.

The Pirates begin their third season as an arena football organization and first season in the IFL, where the Xtreme will trot out on the turf for their first game in franchise history. This will be the first of four meetings between the ball clubs this season.

The Pirates are led on offense by quarterback Sean Brackett, who is entering his third season for the Teal and Gold. Brackett is two seasons removed from an MVP season and, at 29 years old, remains at the top of his game.

Pirates wide receiver Thomas Owens (#81).

The receiving core for the Pirates is arguably the most talented in the IFL. Martavis Bryant and Terrance Williams, who have a combined 48 total NFL scores, are positioned on the outside. Reigning rookie of the year in the Pirates former league (NAL) Thomas Owens is hungry to better his improve upon his performance from 2019.

Jordan McCray, an off-season signee by the Pirates who has multiple years of arena experience in the AFL, leads the charge up front on offense and was recently named one of five team captains.

J.D. “Sack King” Griggs brings the ruckus on defense. The prominent edge rusher has secured three consecutive first-team all-league honors. He is joined by Pirate veterans Toby Johnson and Willie Yarbary on the d-line.

Martrell Spaight is the man in the middle on defense and has logged more NFL games than any other Pirate on the defensive side of the ball.

The Pirates secondary unit has shown the most progress compared to other positional groups in training camp. Pirate vets Chucky Williams and Khalid Wooten are joined by former NFL players Harlan Miller and Ahmad Dixon.

Edgar Poe played for the Maine Mammoths in 2018 and led the team in receptions with 82.

For the Xtreme, Bryan Hicks quarterbacks the offense. He’s a familiar face to Pirate Nation as he appeared in nine games for the Orlando Predators and Columbus Lions, both members of the NAL, in 2019. Hicks returns to the IFL after playing for the Green Bay Blizzard in 2018.

The length of Louisville’s receivers – Quan Shorts (6’2”), Edgar Poe (6’5”), and Todd Athey (6’4”) – should be a good test for the Pirate defensive backs. Shorts is looking to build off his impressive finish to his college career at Northwestern State, where he was named 2019 First-Team All-Southland Conference. Poe, like Hicks, is a familiar foe to Massachusetts. Poe suited up for NAL teams in 2018 and 2019. Athey will be playing with the most to prove. He made Louisville’s roster from the organization’s open tryout earlier this month.

The Pirates are coached by former 3-time Super Bowl Champion Patrick Pass. Pass was the organization’s director of player development in 2019 before the promotion to head coach in 2020. Mark Stoute was named the first head coach in the history of the Louisville Xtreme. Stoute has coached in the IFL, AFL, and NAL and was named 2013 IFL Coach of the Year with the Cedar Rapids Titans. Louisville’s offensive coordinator and director of football operations Anthony Payton was the head coach of the Pirates in 2019.

It’s been about 20 months since the Pirates have taken the field in August 2019, and with Louisville playing its first game as a franchise, there might be some rust on the old tires to start this one. Nonetheless, Saturday night should make for a great game.

The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email contact@masspiratesfootball.com or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single-game tickets will be available soon at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard