The Jacksonville Sharks are the first team in Arena League history to lose their first four games of the season and make it to the Arena Bowl. Since then, the Sharks battled back to become the winners of the Eastern Division after surviving a thriller against the Philadelphia Soul last week.
There are several reasons for the Sharks big turnaround. One of them: Scooter Berry.
Berry tore his ACL in July of 2013 while a member of the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL. He battled back from injuries and signed with the Los Angeles KISS this past spring. The team then traded Berry to Jacksonville. He first got on the field for the team’s fifth game of the season. A win against the Las Vegas Outlaws.
The Sharks are 10-4 with Berry (16 tackles, two sacks) on the roster and have their sights set on an Arena League Championship trophy on Saturday night.
Last week, Berry had a crucial sack and onside kick recovery in the final minute of the game against the Soul to lock up the Eastern Division.
“In a game like that where the teams are pretty equal in talent and trading touchdowns, there’s a few key plays that has to be made to separate the winner from the loser,” said Berry. “I’m glad I was able to step up in a crucial moment and help contribute.
“There’s a few guys that made huge plays and I can’t thank them enough. We needed everyone to step up to pull that off.”
During the Sharks playoff run, Berry has seen an outpouring of encouragement from his fans. His West Virginia Mountaineer fans, that is.
“Mountaineer Nation is unbelievable,” he said. “Bruce [Irvin] was right when he said we don’t have fans in WV, we have family. The nonstop support feels like family checking in on you to show their love, letting you know that they’ve been there with you every step of the way.
“WVU was/is a huge part of my life and I’m so fortunate to have spent my college years there. When people ask me why did I choose WVU, I simply tell them when I went to West Virginia for the first time it felt like I never left home. That’s an unbelievable feeling to have when choosing a university and to still have that feeling years after you’ve graduated, reassures you that you’ve made the right choice.”
If you find yourself in front of a television this evening (7:00 ET on ESPN), you can watch one of our own try to attain that most lucrative of awards in any sport: a league championship.
The last thing Berry said to me before the game? Of course, “Hail West Virginia!”