As we get ready for football season, I take us back to the indoor version which played for six seasons from 2001-2006 in Macon, Georgia. The Arena Football League (AFL) had created a second-tier league known as AF2 and put franchises in smaller markets to increase exposure of the sport.
I know of the Macon Knights personally because I attended many of their games. I actually entered my submission in the name-the-team contest along with a logo design for my entry. My submission was the “Macon Possums”.
The team decided upon the Knights and they began play in the spring of 2001. They played their first game on April 7, 2001 against the Augusta Stallions. Over 4,000 fans watched the Knights lose a thriller to the Stallions, 64-60. The Knights were coached by former NFL player, Kevin Porter. Porter had coached the Pensacola Barracudas the year before. He was also a local as he had played high school in the area. He led the Knights to a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance.
In 2002, the Knights dominated their division and had their best season at 13-3. They were stunned by the Florida Firecats at home in the Conference Semifinals.
The Knights had their best season in 2003. Although they were 10-6 in the regular season, they made an incredible playoff run. The Knights knocked off the Firecats 42-35 in the wildcard game then won against Albany, NY (59-47) and Tennessee Valley (51-48) on the road to advance to the ArenaCup IV championship game. Unfortunately, they fell behind early and was unable to catch the Tulsa Talons.
The wildcard game against the Firecats was probably the most exciting game I remember watching in person. I had a prime seat directly behind the Firecats’ bench and the players heckled me all night. It took a goal line stand by the Knights to hold on to win the game at the end.
In the offseason, Porter was promoted to the AFL with an assistant coaching position with the New Orleans VooDoo. The Knights fell hard to a 3-13 record the next season. They did not have another winning season.
The Knights played their last game on July 29, 2006. After winning their previous four games, the lost to the Arkansas Twisters 53-33 to finish the season at 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
After the 2006 season, fans were shocked when the team announced they would be shutting down operations. The team’s owner, Beverly Olson, cited that the team was losing too much money to stay in business. Although the team averaged 3,161 per game, it just wasn’t enough to compete on a national scale.
The six summers of Knights’ football was an exciting time in Macon and it was sad to see it end.
Kevin Porter is now the head coach at Fort Valley State University in Ft. Valley, Georgia.