Worth the wait: Spokane Shock begin training camp after pandemic delayed team’s 2020 rebirth
May 4, 2021 12:51 am
Shortly after absorbing some after-the-whistle contact, Spokane Shock running back Davonte Sapp-Lynch made it a point to dole out some punishment of his own.
Sapp-Lynch, the younger brother of former Seahawks great Marshawn Lynch, took a pitch at practice Monday at an indoor soccer complex in Post Falls, got around the edge and proceeded to lower his shoulder into the first defender in his direction.
Former Eastern Washington ballhawking safety Dehonta Hayes ended up on his back following a violent collision. Sapp-Lynch scampered into the end zone.
The Shock’s white-jerseyed offense roared on a day it exchanged several, big-play blows with a blue-jerseyed defense.
Pads were popping. Coaches barked. Trash was talked. After its 2020 season was canceled because of the pandemic, normalcy had returned to the Indoor Football League team.
The Shock begin their 14-game schedule May 15 at the Spokane Arena against the Frisco (Texas) Fighters. Fans won’t be permitted for the home opener, but the Shock are aiming for fans in its next six home games in a schedule that runs through August.
Most teams in the IFL are aiming to allow fans at a limited capacity.
Nineteen months after new Shock owner and former Seahawks defensive tackle Sam Adams announced the return of the franchise – the Shock were a championship-level organization in Arena Football League and AF2 for years before switching brands and leagues in 2015 and ultimately folding – the team is aiming for an IFL championship.
New Shock head coach Billy Back, who won a National Arena League championship with the Carolina Cobras before accepting the same job in Spokane, has the chore of cutting his current roster 40 players down to 30 this week.
The majority of the Shock’s roster played collegiately in the Southeastern Conference, Pac-12, Big Ten and are major conferences.
“There is so much talent out there,” Back said. “Thinking about cutting anyone is giving me anxiety because of the amount of talent we have, but can’t keep it all.”
Blake Sims was a starting quarterback at Alabama. Shock wide receiver Speedy Noil was a five-star high school recruit before playing at Texas A&M, as was former Ohio State receiver Torrance Gibson.
Those who didn’t star at the NCAA Division I level, like small-school products Sapp-Lynch, record-setting IFL quarterback Charles McCullum and receiver Jordan Jolly, are established indoor football talents.
“I really wish we could have played last year, but things fell on the wrong side of the trees,” said Jolly, who also played back in Carolina.
“We had an off year, but things are coming together. People are starting to pick up things better.
The Shock returned most of the players it signed in early 2020, like former Jacksonville Sharks (NAL) defensive end Nick Woodman.
“It just shows how much people care and have bought in,” Woodman said. “A lot of people are back in better shape than (our 2020 preseason camp). There’s a lot of talent and on the roster and it’s going to help push us.”