Rattlers try to keep IFL lead, travel to play 5-1 Frisco on Saturday

Rattlers try to maintain IFL lead

The Arizona Rattlers, who have beaten their first five opponents by an average margin of 33 points, now come into the most difficult stretch of their season.

They play at Frisco (Texas) on Saturday at 6 p.m., vs. the 5-1 Fighters, who are coming off a one-point win over Duke City. Then, after playing the 2-3 Tucson Sugar Skulls next week, they return home May 14 to try to avenge their United Bowl loss to the 4-1 Massachusetts Pirates.

They play host to Frisco following the Massachusetts week.

The Rattlers (5-0) and Frisco have the two best records in the 14-team Indoor Football League.

The Rattlers, coming off a bye week, can’t afford to look ahead.

“If you listen to all of the experts, it’s 1 versus 2, right?” coach Kevin Guy said about taking on the Fighters. “Massachusetts is the reigning champs but nobody’s really talking about them. We’ll see them in a few weeks. They’re a good team.

“We just have to get back into the flow of things. That bye week, sometimes you start practice slow. We have to pick it up as the week goes. But I think our guys will be ready. No matter what the result is, I like the challenge. It’s good that we’ll get a challenge at this point in the season.”

The Fighters are led by running back Justin Rankin, who leads the league in rushing with 415 yards and 12 TDs on 70 carries.

Quarterback Blake Sims, who played at Alabama, has rushed for five TDs. He can also beat teams with the pass.

“You can tell he’s an intelligent player, but they’ve got pieces at all positions,” Guy said. “The only game they lost was to was Massachusetts on opening day. We’re going to find out more about us over the next four games. This is the meat of the schedule. Can we handle the adversity?”

Rattlers quarterback Drew Powell is 11th in the league in rushing with 154 yards and two TDs and fourth in passing with 679 yards and 18 TDs.

Running back Shannon Brooks is coming off a 105-yards, five-TD performance in a 66-33 rout of the San Diego Strike Force on April 15.

— Richard Obert

Coyotes wrap season, Glendale tenure

Finally, and suddenly, the Coyotes’ last game at Gila River Arena has arrived. Arizona can finish the season with a three-game winning streak if the Coyotes top the playoff-bound Nashville Predators Friday night in Glendale.

By virtue of more wins, the Coyotes (24-50-7) have already assured themselves of not finishing with the best chance at the No. 1 overall pick in this offseason’s draft. The Montreal Canadiens will own that distinction with the Coyotes in possession of the second-best chance of landing the top pick.

The Coyotes overcame a 3-0 third-period deficit to win 4-3 in overtime at Dallas on Wednesday. Travis Boyd scored his first career overtime goal and it was the eighth time in Coyotes/Jets franchise history that the team won a game after training by three or more goals in the final period. Goaltender Harri Sateri made 26 saves on 29 shots and earned his first win as a Coyote.

The game could mark the last one in a Coyotes uniform for several players who are completing one-year contracts or with their contracts expiring. Those include Phil Kessel, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, Alex Galchenyuk and Anton Stralman, though Stralman has made a good case to be re-signed due to his steady play on the blue line.

—Jose M. Romero

Cardinals to announce Day 3 picks from Mexico

Arizona Cardinals fans arrive at the NFL Draft party on the Great Lawn outside State Farm Stadium, Thursday, April 25, 2019.

Arizona Cardinals fans arrive at the NFL Draft party on the Great Lawn outside State Farm Stadium, Thursday, April 25, 2019.

As part of their NFL Draft festivities, a group from the Cardinals, including new offensive lineman Will Hernandez, whose parents are both natives of Mexico City, will announce the team’s Day 3 picks on Saturday from Mexico City.

Hernandez, along with team mascot Bid Red and Cardinals cheerleaders, will announce the draft picks from Centro Deportivo Chapultepec along with special guests. Arizona’s two sixth-round selections (Nos. 201 and 215) will be announced by Hernandez and a group of local Play 60 kids from the NFL’s Flag program in Mexico City. The team’s three seventh-round picks (Nos. 244, 256 and 257) will be announced by local celebrities, Big Red and cheerleaders.

In addition, the group will be hosting a draft party for fans during the first round of the draft on Thursday night and will also do an autograph signing and meet and greet on Friday. On Saturday, the Cardinals will host a football skills clinic for local youth. Day 3 of the draft begins Saturday at 9 a.m. (Arizona time).

2022 NFL mock draft: Breaking down every pick in the first round

Related: Cardinals to hold 2022 NFL Draft Party on Great Lawn at State Farm Stadium on April 28

The Cardinals are returning to Mexico City and Estadio Azteca this season after playing in the NFL’s first regular-season game held outside of the U.S. in 2005. Arizona’s opponent and date for this season’s game will be announced next Wednesday.

—Bob McManaman

TikTok twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder announce transfer to Miami

Fresno State women's basketball guards Hanna and Haley Cavinder (middle, left to right, No. 0 and No. 1)

Fresno State women’s basketball guards Hanna and Haley Cavinder (middle, left to right, No. 0 and No. 1)

When twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder committed to Fresno State three years ago, they were stars at Gilbert High but little known in the wider world. Now, they’re among the most recognizable players in college sports, having amassed four million followers on their combined TikTok account, which features videos of them dancing together.

On Thursday, they announced that they would be transferring to Miami.

“WHAT’S UP MIAMI,” they wrote in a combined post on their Instagram pages, which each have over 400,000 followers. A few minutes later, they posted the same graphic in a TikTok video that has 465,000 views and 76,000 likes as of Friday morning.

Over the past three years, the twins have not only been stars off the court, but also on it. The 5-foot-6 guards combined to average 34.2 points per game during their careers at Fresno State, with Haley being named All-Mountain West three times and Hanna getting the nod each of the past two years.

“Coming into the offseason losing four impactful players, we felt like we had specific needs and Haley and Hanna absolutely helped us meet several of them,” Miami coach Katie Meier told reporters. “They are huge pieces for our program.”

Because of the combination of their on-court production and marketability — their total NIL deals are estimated at over $1 million — the twins had no shortage of suitors once they entered the transfer portal last month.

Miami, though, proved to be an appealing option. In addition to the departures mentioned by Meier, the Hurricanes have a track record of recent success, having reached the NCAA Tournament in nine of the past 11 seasons.

Plus, the school’s status as a nationally recognizable brand located in a global hub of fashion and entertainment will likely serve to boost the twins’ marketability.

“When we got on campus, there was just a vibe and a feeling you get when you know it is the right decision,” Haley Cavinder told reporters. “I just think with Coach Katie and the leader she is and what she has done with the program, there is something that we were so attracted to, and I think we knew when leaving Miami that we wanted to come back.”

Although the twins will be seniors next season, they each have two more years of NCAA eligibility due to the extra year granted to players who were in college during the COVID-19 impacted 2020-21 season.

—Theo Mackie

Mercury’s Charles charity challenge

Phoenix Mercury center Tina Charles is launching the Hopey’s Heart Rebounding Charity Challenge, a fundraising effort to support the foundation she founded in April 2013.

Charles has dedicated her time to increase the number of AEDs (Automatic External Defibrillators) in schools, recreational facilities and community centers in the country.

Feb 10, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Mercury’s Tina Charles speaks at an introductory press conference at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Breen-The Republic

Feb 10, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Mercury’s Tina Charles speaks at an introductory press conference at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Breen-The Republic

Fans can pledge dollars for every rebound Charles grabs this season with the Mercury. Charles aims to place a minimum of 100 AEDs throughout the country each year.

The foundation is named after Charles’ late aunt, Maureen “Hopey” Vaz, and has placed over 430 AEDs around the world, including seven in Arizona.

Last season, Charles averaged 9.6 rebounds per game, tied for third in the WNBA.

The Mercury will track and update all rebounds and donation efforts made throughout the 2022 season.

—Jenna Ortiz

Hines, Manucci, Brand to be honored by NFF

David Hines, Dan Manucci and Mark Brand all will be honored at 1 p.m. Saturday as “Distinguished Arizonans” during the 41st National Football Foundation Valley of the Sun Chapter Scholar-Athlete banquet at Wild Horse Pass grand showroom.

The event honors 23 high school senior football players and three college players who were chosen based on excellence on the football field, in the classroom and in the community. Brad Cesmat of sports360AZ will be the emcee of the sold-out event. This is the first time in three years the banquet will take place in person, because of the pandemic.

May 15, 2021; Chandler, AZ, USA; Coach Dan Manucci instructs his players how to run through various football drills during a private practice held by Manucci at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler on May 15, 2021.

May 15, 2021; Chandler, AZ, USA; Coach Dan Manucci instructs his players how to run through various football drills during a private practice held by Manucci at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler on May 15, 2021.

Hines is the executive director of the Arizona Interscholastic Association, who welcomed the Open Division era in Arizona high school football three years ago; Manucci is a sports radio talk show host on Fox Sports 910, who works with Valley quarterbacks, including former Perry High QBs Brock and Chubba Purdy; and Brand is longtime associate athletic director of media relations at Arizona State, who is part of the 2022 Hall of Fame Class of the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Scottsdale Saguaro safety Thomas DeChesaro, who helped the Sabercats win their first Open Division state championship, will receive the highest scholar-athlete honor by the NFF Valley of the Sun Chapter.

—Richard Obert

ASU women’s basketball coach names staff

Arizona State women’s basketball head coach Natasha Adair filled out her staff on Thursday, with all four members coming from her previous job at Delaware.

Adair named Mykala Walker and Darrell Mosley as assistant coaches, while Bob Clark was named special assistant and Carter Caplan was named director of women’s basketball operations.

Walker has worked with Adair since 2014 when she began as a graduate assistant at Georgetown. Mosley served as the assistant coach this past season at Delaware. Clark was the associate head coach at Delaware during Adair’s time. Caplan began working with Adair this past season as the assistant director of basketball operations.

—Jenna Ortiz

Voting open for Arizona Hall of Fame

Public voting is now open for the 51st Arizona Sports Hall of Fame class. You can find the ballot at azsportsent.com.

There are 44 names on the list of final ballot nominees. Voting will continue through May 4, with the announcement of the class expected in June. There are no restrictions on how many candidates you may vote for, but only one ballot per person.

The new enshrinees will be honored at a gala on Nov, 1.

The nominees, in alphabetical order:

Abdi Abdirahman, Michael Bates, Melissa Belote-Ripley, Michael Bidwill, Scott Bordow, Bob Brenly, Lance Briggs, Tedy Bruschi, Michael Budenholzer, Henry Cejudo, Tom Dillon, Mike Feder, Larry Fitzgerald, Terry Francona, Lyndsey Fry, Channing Frye, Joe Garagiola Sr., Jennifer Gillom, Pedro Gomez, Greg Hansen, Billy Hatcher.

Also: Richard Jefferson, Tom Jurich, Bill Kajikawa, Peggy Kennedy, Mike Kennedy, Steve Kerr, Jerry Kindall, Paul Konerko, Lopez Lomong, Anne Montgomery, Arte Moreno, Pat Murphy, Bill Nixon, Lorena Ochoa, Susie Parra, Greg Schulte, Karen Self, Matt Shott, Oscar Soria, Mark Tudi, Charli Turner Thorne, Matt Williams, Bobby Winkles.

Coyotes take on Ovechkin, Capitals

Their losing streak now at eight games, the Coyotes take on the Washington Capitals on Friday night at Gila River Arena, the only stop in Glendale this season for Washington and star forward Alex Ovechkin, who reached 50 goals for the ninth time in his career two at Vegas on Wednesday.

The Capitals (43-23-11) are in a tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Friday’s game is the last of a long five-game road trip that started in Eastern Canada on April 14 and has taken the Caps through Colorado, Vegas and finally, Arizona.

The Coyotes have won four of the last five home games against Washington, and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 home games against the Capitals.

—Jose M. Romero

Cardinals to announce Day 3 picks from Mexico

As part of their NFL draft festivities, a group from the Cardinals, including new offensive lineman Will Hernandez, whose parents are both natives of Mexico City, will announce the team’s Day 3 picks on Saturday from Mexico City.

Hernandez, along with team mascot Bid Red and Cardinals cheerleaders, will announce the draft picks from Centro Deportivo Chapultepec along with special guests. Arizona’s two sixth-round selections (Nos. 201 and 215) will be announced by Hernandez and a group of local Play 60 kids from the NFL’s Flag program in Mexico City. The team’s three seventh-round picks (Nos. 244, 256 and 257) will be announced by local celebrities, Big Red and cheerleaders.

In addition, the group will be hosting a draft party for fans during the first round on the draft on Thursday night and will also do an autograph signing and meet and greet on Friday. On Saturday, the Cardinals will host a football skills clinic for local youth. Day 3 of the draft begins Saturday at 9 a.m. (Arizona time).

The Cardinals are returning to Mexico City and Estadio Azteca this season after playing in the NFL’s first regular-season game held outside of the U.S. in 2005. Arizona’s opponent and date for this season’s game will be announced next Wednesday.

–Bob McManaman

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Digest: Rattlers travel to play 5-1 Frisco on Saturday