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WOLVES ON THE PROWL

Arena football back in Stockton; team visits BLD

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WOLVES ON THE PROWL

Stockton Wolves players get warmed up for practice on Thursday at Manteca's Big League Dreams indoor soccer facility.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED March 25, 2011 1:09 a.m.
Professional football is once again going to be a reality in Stockton.

On Thursday afternoon, athletes from throughout the region hoping to land a spot on the roster of the Stockton Wolves – who relocated from San Jose after it was announced that the SabreCats would be returning for the 2011 season – showed up at Big League Dreams hoping to take their skills and their passion for the game to the next level.

And make no mistake about it; it truly was professional football on a local level.

Former San Jose players like Central Catholic quarterback Ryan Victorino almost assuredly already have a spot on the team, but for former college standouts and local prospects that aren’t ready to hang up the gear, Thursday proved to be a chance for head coach Bennie King to get a glimpse of what he has to work with for the upcoming season.

The Wolves will take the field for their first game of the season on April 8 against the Las Vegas Cobras at the Stockton Arena.

But unlike the Stockton Lightning – which folded in January of 2010 after shifts in the makeup of the Arena Football League (they had competed in arenafootball2) forced them to re-examine whether they compete with bigger markets – the Wolves play in a league where nine of the team’s 30 spots have to go to local athletes.

That means that local high school football standouts that have finished their stints in college and aren’t ready to hang up the cleats just yet have an outlet and a chance to collect a paycheck for playing the game that they love.

Players like Manteca High’s Troy McBroom – Delta College standout that also played for the Stockton Lightning – are out trying to make the roster of the club that has yet to be completely finalized.

So what does this mean for local sports fans wanting to get their fill of football, especially now that the future of the National Football League hangs in limbo?

If what I saw Thursday at Big League Dreams is any indication, it means that a chance to watch top flight athletes at an affordable price is now back. Several of the wide receivers who were running patterns came off the line faster than anyone I’ve ever seen in person, and I’m sure than in a game situation that intensity will equate to a better fan experience.

And the chance you that might know some of the players down on the field is only going to make the game – which is explosive and fast-paced as it is thanks to allowing receivers to be moving forward at the ball is snapped – that much better to be in the stands for.

The Stockton Lightning brought something to the area that sports fans could truly appreciate. Now the Stockton Wolves are rekindling that fire and hopefully starting a tradition that will be one to stay.

Who cares in the NFL doesn’t materialize next season. I’ll be getting my fill in two weeks.
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