by HOWIE STALWICK & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & V & lt;/span & ipers Scouting Report: The Vipers, based in Huntsville, Ala., are the American Conference champions. They were seeded fourth in the conference playoffs after tying for second in the South Division. Tennessee Valley is 13-6 after winning three straight games (all in the playoffs). The Vipers rank 11th among 16 af2 playoff teams with 42 points and 248 total yards per game. On defense, Tennessee Valley ranks second with nearly 33 points and 233 total yards allowed per game.
Shock Scouting Report: The Shock, seeded first overall after posting the league's best record in the regular season, have won seven straight games to improve to 18-1. Spokane is 3-0 in the playoffs after capturing the National Conference championship. The Shock leads playoff teams with 68 points per game and ranks sixth in total offense, earning nearly 307 yards per game. Defensively, Spokane gives up 42 points a game (which may sound like a lot but is the league's third-best mark) and stands ninth in total yards allowed (277).
Vipers Star Gazing: Alonzo Nix, a wide receiver out of Tennessee-Chattanooga, caught 10 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-35 win over Manchester (N.H.) in the National Conference title game. Nix leads the af2 in the playoffs with 33 catches and 411 receiving yards. Quarterback Kevin Eakin, a rookie out of Fordham in New York City, has completed 61 percent of his passes in the playoffs for 683 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. All-conference defensive tackle Eric Scott from Southern Mississippi is tied for third in quarterback sacks in the playoffs (four) after ranking second in the regular season (with 17.5). Defensive back Desmond Foster (Alabama State) had three interceptions against Manchester.
Shock Star Gazing: Nick Davila, Spokane's rookie quarterback out of the University of Cincinnati, has thrown 16 TD passes and just one interception in three playoff games. He's completing 63 percent of his passes for 247 yards per game. All-conference wide receiver Raul Vijil, the former Eastern Washington standout, has caught 21 postseason passes for 260 yards and five TD's. All-conference pick Devon Parks (Bowling Green, Ohio) and EWU grad Harrison Nikolao are stalwarts on the defensive line. The af2 Rookie of the Year, all-conference defensive back Sergio Gilliam, is tied for the playoff lead with four interceptions after picking off a league-record 16 passes in the regular season.
Track Record: The Shock and Vipers had four common opponents this season, with Spokane posting a 5-1 record against those teams -- just the opposite of Tennessee Valley. The Vipers went 1-2 against the South Georgia Wildcats, who handed the Shock its only loss with a 57-55 decision on June 21 in Spokane.
Howie Sez: Davila is too hot, Gilliam too pesky, the home crowd too intimidating for the Vipers. Predicted final score: Spokane 69, Tennessee Valley 45.