TARPONS INK REIGNING TWO-TIME ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE RECIEVER-OF-THE-YEAR JOE HILLS
The Florida Tarpons are SERIOUS about winning the American Arena League title in 2018, inking Joe “Superman” HIlls to the roster for 2018. One of arena’s football’s best-ever wide receivers will be playing in Polk County this spring when the Florida Tarpons start their seventh season of professional indoor football.
Joe Hills, who last season had 38 touchdowns to lead the Tampa Bay Storm to the Arena Football League’s championship game – and the year prior had 58 touchdown catches for the Jacksonville Sharks in earning AFL Offensive Player of the Year honors – has signed to play with the Tarpons who will open their nine-game regular season this March.
A graduate of Palmetto High School, this will be his eighth season of professional arena football. He has 726 career reception for 8,883 yards and 230 touchdowns.
“The Tarpons have always been committed to championship level football. In our six years, we have appeared in five league championship games. Bringing in a player with the unparalleled talent of Joe Hills is statement to our fans and the league that we are serious about a sixth title game appearance this season, and a third league title in our history,” President and Coach Michael Taylor said.
Local fans will get their first chance to see one of the game’s most prolific pass-catcher on Saturday, April 14 when the Tarpons host the Richmond Roughriders. Richmond was the only team to defeat Florida last year, once in the regular season and again in the league championship game which came down to the final play of the contest. Both of those games were in Richmond.
“Having Chris Wallace back at quarterback and Joe Hills as a target should make our offense more dynamic than ever,” Taylor added. “ Joe is simply one of the best to ever play the arena game no matter what statistical way you look at it, so it’s beyond exciting that he will be joining the Tarpons family.”
Hills (6′-4”, 220 lbs.)set an AFL record with last year with a streak of at least one touchdown catches in 81 consecutive games – earning AFL Receiver of the Year honors in 2017. With the Storm last year, he had 129 catches for 1353 yards, and is the only player in the history of the AFL to win receiver of the year honors twice.
“I was fortunate to play behind one of the best receivers to every play Arena Football, Tiger Jones. He kind of sat me down, showed me the ins and outs, actually showed me how to be a professional,” Hills said. “I took that, and with my work ethic, they kind of went hand in hand.”
He said getting the chance to continue his career close to home – near wife Raechel and children Joseph, Jr. and Janelle – was central to his decision to sign on with the Tarpons. The Storm announced in December they would not field a team for the 2018 AFL season.
“That’s the number one factor,” he said. “Family is first, and I try to be No. 1 at that. The whole reasons I came back to Tampa was to plant my roots here. I get to be with my family and still do something I love.”
After opening with two games on the road, the Tarpons American Arena League home opener will be a rematch of last season’s league championship game when the Richmond Roughriders will visit the RP Funding Center on April 14. Richmond was the only team to beat the Tarpons last year, once in Richmond during the regular season and again in Richmond in the title showdown.