Rattlers just plug in and win - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Rattlers just plug in and win

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Posted: Saturday, June 12, 2004 7:37 am | Updated: 5:42 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Orshawante Bryant pulled in a team playoff-record 13 receptions in the Arizona Rattlers’ quarterfinal win — six more catches than he had had in a game all season.

And no one around the team was surprised.

It’s a plain example of what the Rattlers do.

The team has made the playoffs for 12 straight seasons and, even with core veterans like quarterback Sherdrick Bonner and receiver Hunkie Cooper, that kind of time frame dictates roster turnover.

And so the Rattlers have filtered through countless players that have produced. As a "glamour" receiver, the Rattlers have had Calvin Schexnayder and Maurice Bryant and Chris Horn and Siaha Burley. And that doesn’t count the fill-ins like Orshawante Bryant who have shined for shorter periods.

Plug them in and see Arizona win.

"We like to think we don’t rebuild, we reload," coach Danny White said. "Fortunately, we have been able to find those guys.

"When opportunity comes, they were ready. That’s been the norm. I can’t really think of a guy who stepped in and disappointed, and that’s been a big part of our consistency."

The same thing has happened with other parts of the team, on the line and in the defensive backfield. The Rattlers dumped who was their top defensive specialist earlier this year in Hamin Milligan, only to have Kelvin Hunter step in and stabilize.

"It says something about coach White’s philosophy," Bonner said. "It doesn’t matter who is in there, as long as there is time to get prepared guys can do good things."

Even Bonner, who is the biggest constant on the field in the past decade, has seen the other side. Injured in the 1997 semifinal, he watched backup Donnie Davis direct Arizona to an ArenaBowl win.

These days, White is having trouble deciding when to bring back 2003 Ironman of the Year Randy Gatewood to the lineup because of the depth. Gatewood fractured a forearm May 1 and is ready to return to his receiver/defensive back spot, but Bryant is playing so well and Justin Taplin has emerged as someone White sees as a future star.

"Throughout my career, we have always had guys capable of having a big game like ‘O’ did," Gatewood said.

White said he was anxious to get other bench players, like the practice squad’s Ryan Dennard, playing time because he thinks they will turn into good AFL players.

Bryant said the veterans on the team like Bonner and Cooper are a big reason for the interchangeable success, because "all the guys that come through here experience their heart and their passion and their encouragement."

And those veterans are appreciative of the different players who have made an impact, because it has all been needed to make the Rattlers a perennial contender.

"It says a lot about the system we run," Cooper said. "You have to have veterans . . . key pieces, and then put guys in who carry their weight."

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