Force begin critical stretch drive vs. Jacksonville

With just six games remaining in the 2012 season, time is growing short for the Georgia Force to make their move in the Arena Football League’s South Division.

So, it comes as no surprise they are treating tonight’s game with Jacksonville Sharks at 7 p.m. at The Arena at Gwinnett Center with an extra sense of urgency.

“The last six games are going to be critical … for us,” said Force coach Dean Cokinos, who’s team stands at 6-6 and tied for second in the division with Tampa Bay, just a half-time behind Jacksonville (6-5). “We still have an opportunity. We just haven’t had much continuity all year.

“While this (game) is not a season-ender (with a loss), it’s still as big as it gets this time of year.”

Continuity will still be an issue tonight, with receiver C.J. Johnson not expected to play after suffering a hamstring injury in last week’s 57-35 loss to New Orleans, and defensive back Tracy Belton set to miss his fourth straight game due to injury.

“The team has a different make-up this year,” Cokinos said. “Last year, we were a veteran team. Now we’ve got three rookie receivers and several young kids in the defensive back spot. There’s just no continuity. So, (tonight) is more about us getting our confidence back.”

Obviously, the Force will need some of those youngsters like Jake Allen and Brandon McRae, who was activated off injured reserve to replace Johnson, and Shay Hodge to step up and contribute more.

However, he is also looking for more from veterans like receiver Larry Shipp and quarterback R.J. Archer to help the Force break their current two-game losing streak.

“Guys like Shipp, he’s obviously got to take charge,” Cokinos said.

“Basically, it’s the offense. This is arena football. It’s vital that we score points.”