Things to watch: Spokane Shock visit Duke City for first meeting


For the second week in a row, the Spokane Shock will go head-to-head with a team they have never faced.

This time, the Shock (6-2) will step into the coliseum – or the Rio Rancho Events Center – in Rio Rancho, New Mexico against the Duke City Gladiators at 4:05 p.m.

Last weekend, the Shock faced the Tucson Sugar Skulls for the first time, winning 45-34.

The Gladiators (4-5) are coming off a 71-54 win versus the Northern Arizona Wranglers last week. The week prior, the Gladiators topped the Sugar Skulls by a point.

The indoor football game of the week will be broadcast on WatchStadium.com.

Quest for first-round bye

Spokane has positioned itself nicely for a first-round playoff bye after beating the Sugar Skulls.

The Shock have won six of their last seven since dropping the first game of the season.

Now squarely in the driver’s seat to host a playoff game, the Shock will set their sights higher, as they need to surpass either the Frisco Fighters (6-2) or the Arizona Rattlers (7-2) for that bye.

The Shock will have to run the gauntlet to guarantee a playoff bye after the Gladiators as they finish the season against the Massachusetts Pirates (7-3), Fighters and Rattlers.

Jordan headed to college home

As the Shock make their first trip to play the Gladiators, Shock receiver Lamar Jordan heads back to his college home.

Jordan starred at the University of New Mexico from 2014-17 as one of the nation’s top option-quarterbacks.

In 2016, Jordan and the Lobos led the nation in rushing and is the Lobos 11th-ranked rusher in program history (2,503 yards). Following New Mexico, Jordan signed a free-agent deal with the Falcons.

After taking back a kickoff for a touchdown in the first game of the season, Jordan hasn’t made a huge impact on the Shock, but maybe a return to New Mexico is what he needs to get rolling again.

Sims winning at QB

In two games since Blake Sims took the reins from the injured Charles McCullum, the Shock have gone 2-0 with wins over the Sioux Falls Storm and the Sugar Skulls.

He has thrown for a combined 167 yards with two touchdowns. He actually leads the team in rushing over that span with 139.

While the Shock have continued their winning ways, head coach Billy Back said after the win over Tucson that he was hoping to see the passing game come to life a little more.

But if Spokane continues to accumulate W’s, Back will sleep easy.

Sapp-Lynch rolling

The California-native racked up 132 all-purpose yards while marauding into the end zone four times against the Sugar Skulls.

One touchdown was a 59-yard kickoff return.

He has cemented his status as one of the most dynamic players in the league for the second consecutive season.

In 2019, Sapp-Lynch recorded 541 yards on the ground with 22 touchdowns. He was named All-IFL and was the most dynamic player in the league. He is on pace for over 500 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

Shock pass defense

Spokane is going to have its hands full as Duke City is the league leader in passing, and it isn’t particularly close.

The Gladiators boast an impressive resume through the air with 51 passing touchdowns and 188 yards per game, almost 30 more than the second-place Iowa Barnstormers.

At quarterback, Nate Davis played college ball at Ball State and was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL draft.

Davis was on the Seahawks’ roster for almost two months during the 2010-11 season.

He has taken the IFL by storm this season, throwing for 1,711 yards with 51 touchdowns. No one is within 300 yards or 20 touchdowns of the league leader.

At wideout, two of the top five wide receivers wear the silver and black of Duke City. Dello Davis – 19 touchdowns – and Xavier Amey – 13 touchdowns – are the two players the Shock have circled during their team meetings.