Frazier grad Chad Salisbury continues intriguing arena football career
Chad Salisbury's Arena Football League career continues to be one of intrigue and productivity as he completes the first half of his eighth season.
After suffering a concussion in the team's opening game and missing three straight games, all losses, Salisbury returned to the starting lineup on April 7 and ended the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Rampage losing skid.
A 6-foot-6-inch, 215-pound quarterback, who is in his eighth year in the Arena Football League, Salisbury led the Rampage to a 66-53 home victory over the New York Dragons on Centennial Wireless Field at Van Andel Arena. He completed 21 of 31 passes for 260 yards, a personal career-high eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
Salisbury, a former All-State quarterback and basketball player at Frazier High School who played collegiate football at the University of Buffalo after transferring there from New Mexico State, completed 11 of 21 passes for 76 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in Grand Rapids' season-opening 44-42 win at the Colorado Crush in Denver on March 3. The Rampage overcame a 21-7 first quarter deficit.
The victory gave the Rampage its first road victory since mid-May of 2005 as Grand Rapids lost all eight of its away games in 2006. The victory marked the first season-opening win since 2003 for the Rampage, the same season the team last made the playoffs.
Early in the second half of that game, Salisbury sustained the injury while scrambling and being tackled hard from behind by Colorado fullback/linebacker Robert Thomas. Before being sidelined he moved into third place in all-time Rampage history in completions with 300. Salisbury's backup, Matt Sauk, hit 10 of 15 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
With Salisbury out, Grand Rapids lost home games to the Las Vegas Gladiators (79-69), the Philadelphia Soul (69-40) and at the Utah Blaze (83-42).
After the home win over New York, Grand Rapids lost three fumbles en route to a 52-41 road loss to the Kansas City Brigade at the Kemper Arena on April 14. Salisbury put together his second straight solid outing, completing 16 of his first 17 passes and finishing the night with 223 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Despite his solid outing the eight-year veteran was not pleased with the defeat.
"You can't turn the ball over in this game," said Salisbury. "We lost by 11 points, and we turned the ball over three times. When you do the math, you see we could have won this game if we held on to the ball."
On April 21, the Rampage played host to defending AFL champion Chicago and lost 75-54. Salisbury threw his first three interceptions of the season but completed 23 of 39 passes for 241 yards and four touchdowns in the loss. He was sacked twice.
A week later in Los Angeles, Salisbury completed 27 of 40 passes for 297 yards and tied his career-high set three weeks previous with eight touchdowns. However, the Rampage (2-6) squandered an 18-point third quarter lead and lost 75-71 to the host Avengers. Salisbury had one tipped interception.
For the season, Salisbury has completed 104 of 161 pass attempts (64.6 percent) for 1,097 yards, 24 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Salisbury previously played for the New England Sea Wolves (2001), Toronto Phantoms (2001-02), Chicago Rush (2003-04), and the Columbus Destroyers (2005). Salisbury also played briefly on the Georgia Force practice squad in 2005 before signing on with Grand Rapids for the Rampage's final five games that year. Last season Salisbury completed 289 of 480 (60.2 percent) passes for 3,215 yards, 58 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also scored two rushing touchdowns and five times passed for more than 300 yards.
Salisbury also became the first Rampage quarterback to win his first five home starts. He was voted the Rampage's Most Valuable Player at season's end and was signed by Grand Rapids for an additional two years through the 2008 season.
After guiding Frazier High School to the 1993 WPIAL Class AA playoffs, Salisbury played college football at the New Mexico State University and the University of Buffalo. In 1995 as a sophomore, Salisbury passed for 2,291 yards and 11 touchdowns.
A coaching change and new offensive philosophy to the wishbone offense prompted Salisbury to transfer to the University of Buffalo, where he was a two-year starter. He finished his productive two years at Buffalo in the school's top five in career completions (372), attempts (671), yards (4,947) and touchdowns (31). He received honorable mention All-America honors from Football Gazette after the 1997 season.
This Friday Grand Rapids will travel to one of Salisbury's former teams, the Columbus Destroyers. Grand Rapids will finish the 2007 regular season at Nashville on June 23. Grand Rapids defeated Nashville in the 2001 Arena Football League title game.