The Nebraska Danger stands at 1-2 after opening the season with three straight home games at the Heartland Events Center.
Now the team heads on a two-game road trip against the Allen Wranglers, featuring former NFL star Terrell Owens, on Saturday and the Everett Raptors on April 5.
The Danger continue to make moves as it tries to shore up areas of the team that needs help, but there is one unit that has performed remarkably well through the first three games.
The Danger has three quarterbacks who have played. Those three quarterbacks have attempted 99 passes, and the offensive line has yet to give up a sack.
“Three games, no sacks,” line coach Rico Ochoa said. “That’s impressive. It gives (the quarterbacks) time to sit back there and try to pick defenses apart.”
James Poynter, a former Nebraska-Kearney player, is in the middle of that line at center for the second straight year. He’s flanked by Cedric Mack (Florida International) on one side and Darren Marquez (Southern Illinois) on the other.
“I feel like we have the right athletes here to win ball games,” Ochoa said. “I feel like we have the best offensive line in this league. That being said, we still have to keep everybody focused and things should take care of themselves.”
Poynter, who has been in the IFL for seven years, said this offensive line clicked from the start.
“We played really well right from the beginning at camp together,” Poynter said. “We made a goal for ourselves before we played any games that we don’t want to give up any sacks this year. We have young quarterbacks, young receivers, things like that. We’re going to let the offensive line carry us this year.”
The Danger is sixth in league in yards per game at 237. That includes 41.7 on the ground and 196 through the air. The team also stands 14th in points per game at 38.
Poynter would certainly like to see those rushing yards increase.
“As an offensive line, we always love to run the ball more,” Poynter said. “Unfortunately in the arena game that doesn’t always happen. We feel as a unit we can do pass or run. We’re good enough to do it. But pass blocking and run blocking can only go so far. You have to play pass and catch.”
The Danger defense has been pretty good too. It stands third in the league in points given up per game at 38.7 per game.
The defensive line has been good for the most part, but the coaching staff continues to look for ways to improve.
“The first game the defensive line was great,” Danger head coach Mike Davis said. “The second game was very average. Obviously playing against Matt Strand of Wyoming, you’re not going to get to him.”
Davis said Strand, a former Chadron State quarterback, has been in the league nine years and gets rid of the ball so fast that it’s almost impossible to get any pressure on him.
“We did some good things. We did some bad things,” Davis said. “All in all, it’s much better than it was last year, so that’s a big plus.”
Ochoa, who played college football at UNK, is confident the Danger has the right players on the defensive line to be successful.
“Up front defensively we’ve rotated a few guys,” Ochoa said. “We have the right guys. They were hand picked to come here to rush the passer. We’re getting there. We know we’re one of the best defenses in the league.
“We definitely want to do better and it starts this week against Allen. It will be a good measuring stick to see how good we really are.”
Poynter, who turns 29 next week, is hoping the Danger is pretty good. He knows he doesn’t have a lot of time left to play football and would love to go out a winner.
“I’m getting up there,” he said. “It’s about time I hang up the pads and start with my regular life and career. Being heavy isn’t the best thing. My plan is to lose some weight after I get done playing ball. That will definitely be a goal. It will take some time and effort to drop that off, that’s for sure.”