It’s hard to get recognition when you’re playing in the minor leagues.
It’s even harder when the city you play in has a major league team in (roughly) the same sport. Such is the case for the AFL’s Jacksonville Sharks.
The Sharks have had a solid season, going 7-9 and finishing with a two-game win streak. They’ll make the playoffs, but then again so does every team in the league. (It’s a structure the league has had to adopt as membership dwindled to eight teams.)
A lot of players on the team have had impressive seasons, but none were as impressive as wide receiver Joe Hills.
Hills finished up the season with 2,020 receiving yards, leading the league – he was more than 500 yards ahead of the next closest player.
His 58 TD receptions also led the league, and shattered the previous franchise record of 44 in a season. He even crossed the goal line eight times in a single game, setting a franchise record and falling just two shy of the AFL record. With all these accomplishments, he’s likely to make the league’s All-Arena first team.
He even broke a record that he already owned – his 161 catches surpassed his franchise-record total from the previous year.
Hills, an AFL veteran, has been with the Sharks the past two seasons. He was impressive last year as well, contributing to a season that ended in an ArenaBowl appearance.
The team is gearing up for a playoff run now, led by Hills and the other standout Sharks players. Greg Reid, the former Florida State standout who was dismissed after a few legal incidents, set a single-game franchise record for total tackles (13.5). Quarterback Tommy Grady led the league in passing yards (4,495) and was third in TDs (94).
This playoff run may mark the end of Hills’ tenure in Jacksonville, however. He was recently drafted with the #2 pick in the China Arena Football League by the Dalian Dragon Kings. He hasn’t indicated whether he wants to go or not – he commented that the salary increase was appealing, but he also previously said he didn’t want to leave Florida unless it was for the NFL.
Regardless of if this is Hills’ last hurrah or not, the Sharks are poised to make another deep postseason run this year. For more information on the Sharks’ playoff progress, check out the team’s website.