VIRGINIA BEACH ——Given the way they were playing, the Virginia Destroyers probably didn't need a bye week.
They had one anyway. Now the Destroyers will look to pick up where they left off two weeks ago when they host desperate Sacramento in regionally televised United Football League action Friday at 7 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.
The following day, though, the team essentially shut down football operations as the players and coaches checked out of their Chesapeake hotel and returned to their hometowns for six days during the Destroyers' bye week.
"I headed back to Chicago, back with my wife, and it was nice," said Destroyers running back Adrian Petersen, a former member of the Chicago Bears. "But now it's back to business."
Destroyers coach Marty Schottenheimer made sure of that. The coach said he "got after them pretty good" at Monday's first post-break practice, partly to get the players re-focused but also to stave off any complacency that may have resulted from the team's fast start.
"Sometimes, when things are going well, your chest gets out to here," Schottenheimer said as he extended his hands in front of his body. "But you see what happens? Look down. You can't see what's right in front of you."
During his days in the NFL, Schottenheimer-coached teams went 11-5 in games after a bye week. It's a statistic that doesn't surprise Jerry Glanville, a UFL consultant whose coaching battles with Schottenheimer date back to the 1970s.
"Marty likes to say he was an English major, but he should have been a psychology major," Glanville said. "He's a master at working on the minds of his players to get them to do what they need to do."
What winless Sacramento needs is a victory. The Mountain Lions, who are coached by NFL veteran Dennis Green, are at 0-2, with both losses coming at home. A win Friday puts them right back in the mix for a top-2 finish and a spot in the UFL's championship game. A loss leaves them at 0-3 in a six-game season.
Sacramento's most recent setback came on Saturday, when Las Vegas' Jeff Wolfert booted a 39-yard field goal as time expired for a 33-30 victory.
"I'm watching Denny aging right in front of my eyes," Glanville said of Green, whose teams' two losses are by a combined nine points.
The Destroyers, by contrast, have yet to experience even one close call, and a big key has been their virtually mistake-free play. Virginia has committed just one turnover in its two games, a third-quarter fumble against Las Vegas by returner Clifton Smith when one of his teammates was blocked into him just as Smith was making the catch. And that mistake didn't occur until the Destroyers had built a 24-0 lead.
Otherwise, the Destroyers appeared to make a strong first impression on the announced crowd of 12,167 in their home opener, and team officials are eager to see how many of those fans will come back for more.
"A lot of this is still new to us here," said John Castleberry, the Destroyers vice president of sales and marketing. "But we've seen a spike in phone calls and ticket sales this week. I think it's be a good turnout."
What: UFL football - Virginia Destroyers vs. Sacramento Mountain Lions
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Virginia Beach Sportsplex
Tickets: Reserved $35, reserved bleachers $25, general admission $20, military (with ID) gets $5 off price of ticket. Anyone that buys a general admission ticket will receive two additional tickets for youth age 12 and under. For more information, call 757-962-8866.
TV: Cox channel 11
Around the game
Fan Fest - Begins at 5 p.m. in the tailgate lot; Right On, the official band of the Destroyers, will play. Clowns, face painting, inflatables, obstacle course among the festivities. Gates for getting into the stadium open at 6 p.m.
Tailgating – beginning at 4 p.m. in the tailgate lot. Cost is $20 to park in the tailgate lot.
General parking – $5 at the Virginia Beach Ampitheater; free shuttle provided.
Halftime performance by musical group 4Shore, an act featured on the TV show X-Factor.