Former Retiree earns Defensive Back of the Year

By Emily Zahner

August 13, 2013

SAN JOSE, CA—The San Jose SaberCats gave their fans another year worth watching, posting a record of 13-6 and making the post season once again. A crushing defeat the Arizona Rattlers saw the Cats eliminated and sent packing, but that wouldn’t be the last of San Jose in the news. The Arena Football League announced on Tuesday that SaberCats DB Clevan Thomas had been named the AFL Defensive Back of the Year, as well as being a First Team All-Arena Selection.

Clevan’s selection came as a shocker to some, as he had retired from the AFL in 2008. The Cats faithful weren’t surprised at all… and upon his return in 2013, Thomas posted an incredible year with the Cats. Playing in all 18 games for San Jose, Thomas blew the lid of all sorts of records, including a career and franchise-high 15 interceptions. Most notable, Thomas set a new AFL record with six pick-6; the previous record was four. Thomas picked up the final two in a win against the Chicago Rush.

San Jose’s star DB recorded 74 tackles and recovered two fumbles throughout the season. The Cats hope to see Thomas owning the field again next year.

No Rush… Cats cruise into post-season

July 27th, 2013
SAP Arena
By Emily Zahner and Kahlil Najar

SAN JOSE, CA—In the last game of the regular season, the San Jose SaberCats (13-5) hosted the visiting Chicago Rush (10-8) in what promised to be a high caliber playoff-type game. Both teams were looking to end the season on a high note and carry the winning momentum into the post season. San Jose came out victorious, taking the win 65-40. Carried by a spectacular performance by QB Russ Michna and wide receivers Jason Willis and James Roe, the SaberCats erased all memory of last weeks’ 65-43 loss to the Philadelphia Soul.

After a kickoff return for a touchdown by the Rush, the first quarter was all SaberCats. Clevan Thomas picked off Carson Coffman one yard into the Cats end zone with less than a minute to go in the first, and returned it for a pick-6. This gave Thomas the franchise record of 14 interceptions this season for San Jose, and he wasn’t even close to being finished. By the end of the first, the score was 23-14 SaberCats. Late in the second, Thomas almost had his 15th, but the ball just tipped his fingers, giving the interception to teammate JC Neal. Going in to half, San Jose lead Chicago 37-19, carrying all the momentum. The third was a low scoring quarter, as both teams only completed one score, bringing the score to 44-26. In the fourth, Clevan Thomas brought the fireworks, hauling in another pick-6 that brought the franchise record to 15. This was his sixth of the season, making him the record holder for the most pick-6 in a season. The Cats finished strong in the fourth, sealing their 16th victory of the season by a score of 65-40.

For the first time playing against his former team, Russ Michna had a night for the ages. Michna completed 19 of 24 passes, averaging 13.5 yards per throw. With five touchdown completions, the SaberCats QB extended his streak to seven games in which he has thrown five or more TDs. Michna would be replaced by backup QB Mitch Mustain late in the fourth, presumably giving him some rest prior to the playoffs. On the other side, Chicago’s QB Carson Coffman struggled. While he threw 20 for 36, for 223 yards with two touchdowns, he was picked off three times and was sacked four times.

The SaberCats begin their 2013 Post Season next Sunday against the Arizona Rattlers in Phoenix, AZ. The Rattlers are 15-3 this season, number one in the West Division of the AFL.

SaberCats streak stops at six, crushed by Soul 65-43

July 20th, 2013

By Emily Zahner and Kahlil Najar

SAN JOSE, CA – In the second-to-last game of the regular season, two
of the hottest teams in the AFL met at the newly named SAP Arena in
San Jose, and were destined to put on a high scoring battle. The San
Jose SaberCats (12-5), currently ranked fourth in points per game,
played host to the Philadelphia Soul (12-5), currently ranked third.
The SaberCats and the Soul were both on win streaks of four and six
respectively coming in to the game Saturday night, and the night
wouldn’t be over without a streak snapped. The Soul, the reigning
American Conference Champions, have also won six consecutive road
games. History had favored the home team in the season series, but the
Soul were in it to snap streaks tonight, coming away with a 65-43 win.
The win tonight extended their current win streak and consecutive road
win streak to seven games.

On the 44th anniversary of the lunar landing, the Soul’s play was out
of this world as they left their footprint on the SaberCats undefeated
record against American Conference teams. The SaberCats looked out of
sorts in the first quarter, as the Soul took an all-too-easy 21-0 lead
after multiple miscues from the kickoff return. The Soul continued to
surge, going up 27-0, but a strong second period by the Cats brought
the score back to 27-21 heading into the half. It looked like the Cats
were building momentum, but a last second field goal at the end of the
second silenced the crowd and halted the Cats attack. The Soul
continued their dominant play, shutting out the Cats in the third,
increasing their commanding lead to 44-21. The Cats tried to give
their fans something to cheer for on fan appreciation night tallying
22 points in the fourth quarter, but would ultimately fall short to a
score of 65-43.

Russ Michna had an impressive game, despite the loss, by completing 15
of 37 passes, good for five touchdowns. The majority of Michna’s
throws were hauled in by James Roe, for three touchdowns on 70 yards
receiving. Huey Whittaker had 106 all-purpose yards, of which 81 yards
were receiving, and the other 25 were an interception return for a
touchdown, San Jose’s last score of the night.

The SaberCats conclude the regular season next weekend, Saturday July
27th at 7:30PM, against the Chicago Rush.