Football Friday (8/9/19)

Austria

Austria defeats Sweden for U19 European Gold Medal

Football – the American version – is played all over the world and throughout the year.  Let’s take a look at this week’s football news…

AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE

The owner of the Wheeling-based West Virginia Roughriders announced the team will not be returning to the AAL for the 2020 season, but discussions with other leagues have not yet taken place. The AAL had some unstable teams during the 2019 season resulting in most teams playing non-league competition to fill out their schedules and some AAL teams suspended operations prior to or during the season. The Roughriders played as the Richmond (VA) Roughriders in the 2018 AAL season before relocating to Wheeling for the 2019 AAL season. The AAL’s Cape Fear Heroes (Fayetteville, NC) are rumored to be leaving the league for the 2020 season. A previously announced 2020 AAL expansion team called the Tampa Bay Tornadoes announced a September tryout, but some doubt has been reported as to whether the team will make it to its first season.

ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE

PHILADELPHIA SOUL 48, WASHINGTON VALOR 41
Game #2 – AFL Semifinals
(Philadelphia wins series 117-74)
The small scuffle in the third quarter of Sunday’s semifinal series finale between the Philadelphia Soul and the Washington Valor was a metaphor for the game, but not the series.

Both teams fought back and forth until the last minute-and-a-half, when Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh connected with wide receiver Darius Prince to take the lead with a 33-yard touchdown to win, 48-41.

The Soul didn’t want the game to be as close as it ended but coach Clint Dolezel said with the playoff format with aggregate scoring, it makes it a lot less stressful for both players and coaches.

“It’s the beauty of the home and away thing,” Dolezel said. “I would always want to play at home second. So, that if you do clinch it, it’s in front of your crowd.”

The win, combined with last week’s 69-33 victory, means the Soul advance to ArenaBowl XXXII with an aggregate win over the Valor, 117-74.

Before to Sunday’s game, Raudabaugh said the way the Soul would walk out of Wells Fargo Center as winners would be by scoring on every drive – and they did just that, at least in the first half.

ALBANY EMPIRE 62, BALTIMORE BRIGADE 21
Game #2 – AFL Semifinals
(Albany wins series 123-47)
The Arena Football League’s top point-producers were kept off the field Saturday night for more than eight minutes of the second quarter. It happened because Albany’s defense scored three straight touchdowns in a playoff game against the Baltimore Brigade.

It was part of a 62-21 humiliation that the Empire put on the Brigade at Royal Farms Arena to win their two-game, aggregate score semifinal playoff series, 123-47.

The Empire will now play host to ArenaBowl XXXII at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at Times Union Center. The game, against the winner of the other semifinal series between Philadelphia and Washington, will be televised live by ESPN2.

“It’s an awesome feeling to get there for the first time,” said Terence Moore, a seventh-year linebacker who scored twice. “The good thing about the locker room is that we’re excited about being there, but we still feel we have one more to complete the job.”

Albany (12-2), coming off its second straight regular-season title, made this a no contest early. Having won last week’s meeting with Baltimore 61-26, the Empire needed only to stay within 34 points of the Brigade to play for the Arena title.

That was never their mentality.

READ MORE…

CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have had a revolving door at kick returner this season. Janarion Grant put an end to that on Thursday night. The former Rutgers star returned two punts for touchdown in his Canadian Football League debut, sparking the Bombers to a 26-24 win over the Calgary Stampeders at IG Field in Winnipeg.

The ownership group trying to bring a CFL expansion team called the Atlantic Schooners to Halifax (Nova Scotia) is still working on a business plan for a new stadium that will be a requirement for acceptance into the league. The earliest an expansion team could start play would be in 2021 and that season could be played in Moncton (Nova Scotia) or a temporary stadium in Halifax. The CFL is holding a regular-season game later this month at the University of Moncton as part of the 2019 edition of Touchdown Atlantic. The CFL has yet to close on a recently announced proposed sale of the Montreal Alouettes team whose ownership sold the team back to the league just prior to the 2019 season.

FINLAND

The Kuopio Steelers (7-2) and Seinäjoki Crocodiles (3-5) staged a game for the ages in Finland’s Maple League. The Steelers scored 37 third quarter points to beat Seinäjoki 85-55 in one of the highest scoring games in Maple League history.

Kuopio scored 64 points in the second half alone.

Trailing 35-21 at the half, the Steelers exploded for 37 points in the third quarter, holding Seinäjoki to just six and then added another 27 in the fourth.

Read more…

GRIDIRON DEVELOPMENTAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Oklahoma Thunder (9-1) are one win away from capturing their fourth consecutive National Championship and their eighth overall title in the franchise’s 12 seasons of operation. The only obstacle standing in Oklahoma’s path to another Gridiron Bowl title is a rematch with the Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs (10-0).

The Thunder and Bulldawgs have met in the regular season earlier this year. Middle Tennessee defeated Oklahoma 26-13 on June 29th, in Nashville,Tennessee getting a little payback from last seasons championship loss but there is a big difference in winning a championship game, versus winning a regular season game.

Flashback to 2018, the Thunder defeated the Bulldawgs 38-15 on August 11th in Gridiron Bowl IX in Birmingham, Alabama to give them their third consecutive national championship banner. They will face off again for the third time in their short history, in what is quickly becoming an intense rivalry.

This Gridiron Bowl will feature two of the most storied programs on the Minor League Football circuit today. The Bulldawgs have made five appearance in championship games the last five seasons since they have been established dating back to when they were still a part of the Tennessee Football League (TFL).

For the Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs, Gridiron Bowl X will mark their second straight Gridiron Bowl appearance. They are also seeking their first GDFL league championship since winning consecutive spring titles in the MTFL ,MFA & TFL .

Middle Tennessee punched their ticket to the 2019 Gridiron Bowl with a 32-27 victory over the Erie Express in the Intense Xtreme Conference Championship in Erie, Pennsylvania on last Saturday July 27.2019.

Chapa had three first half turnovers and another interception that bounced off the chest of Moore. After Erie took the lead with under two minutes to go, Chapa hit Moore on a 53 yard play to give the Bulldawgs the lead for good.

Thunder starting QB Damian Manning led the offense by completing 10-of-14 passes for 140 yards and two scores. Adidas McDonald also added a game-high 148 yards on the ground while also rushing for three touchdowns. WR Brandon Shepherd led receivers with 5 catches for 56 yards and a touchdown in the win.

Meanwhile, the Bulldawgs traveled to Cathedral Prep Events Center and defeated the Erie Express 32-27 in the Xtreme Conference Championship to earn their spot in the Gridiron Bowl. Bulldawgs trailed by three points at one point, after Hanna hit Terry Jackson on a 28 yard TD pass with Jeremy Ditzler adding the XP to give Erie the lead 27-24. 2:57 4th, but rallied.Bulldawg QB Eric Chapa and WR Tyran Moore showed some great moxie.

Defensively, the Thunder held River City to -8 yards in total offense, though this total was primarily due to key mistakes by the Pythons that resulted in -52 yards rushing. The Thunder also forced 5 turnovers, including one pick-six by CB Traivon Bryant, a sack/fumble forced by DE Rashawd Rushing, and a fumble recovery by WR DJ Dempsey deep in Python territory that led to a subsequent Thunder touchdown. .

As for the Bulldawgs defense, DB Chris Perkins led Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs in the turnover department with three interceptions a fumble recovery, four pass breakup and a touchdown in the victory over the Outlaws and Express. The Bulldawgs defense has been ranked #1 all season long and this is the most points they have given up to an opponent all season.

The 2019 National Championship (Gridiron Bowl X) between the Oklahoma Thunder and the Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs is slated for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff at Missouri Southern State University, in Joplin,Missouri Admissions $15.00

IFAF 2019 U19 European Championships

Although they started slow, Team Austria built momentum quickly and finally dominated Sweden in the gold medal final of the IFAF 2019 U19 European Championhips, shutting them out 28-0 Sunday evening in Bologna, Italy.

In front of a loud and boisterous crowd at Arcoveggio Stadium with Austrian and Swedish fans chanting back and forth, Austria simply outran, outmuscled and outhustled a Swedish team that had not faced this kind of speed and execution before in the tournament.

Austria jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead and then cruised in the second half for the win.

Read more…

IRELAND

The main event in the Irish American Football Association’s calendar is finally back once again as the four time champions Belfast Trojans take on the South Dublin Panthers for the Shamrock Bowl in its 33rd year. These two teams are well known to each, having faced each other multiple times in recent years. They last played each other on the 9th June 2019 in Belfast, where the Trojans came out 26-16 winners. This would be the first of a string of three defeats for the Panthers to end their regular season whilst the Trojans would win out their remaining four games.

The Trojans finished the regular season as second seeds, gaining home field advantage in the semi-final, of which they overcame UCD 14-0 in a rain soaked game at Harlequins RFC. Both defense’s took advantage of the weather, stifling each other’s offenses as both were finding it difficult to establish an air game in the tough conditions. The Trojans eventually broke the deadlock at the end of the second quarter, ironically through a passing play, before going on to score the games only other touchdown in the second half.

Read more…

NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE

JACKSONVILLE SHARKS 67, COLUMBUS LIONS 43
Semifinals

The Columbus Lions couldn’t overcome their demons, falling to their rival Jacksonville in the semifinal game 67-43. With the loss, the Lions’ hope of reaching a third consecutive NAL Championship comes to a halt.

Columbus would strike first after causing a fumble on the opening kickoff and quarterback Bryan Hicks sneaking in for a touchdown. But after the Sharks and Mike Fafaul answered back with a touchdown pass to Durron Neal, Hicks would throw a pick six deep in Jacksonville territory, returned by Markus Smith to put the Sharks up 16-6. Although Ulric Jones would pouce on a fumble for a touchdown and Hicks found his way into the endzone late in the 2nd quarter, Jacksonville would enter the half with a 37-22 lead.

Read more…

CAROLINA COBRAS 30, MASSACHUSETTS PIRATES 36
Semifinals

In what was a battle of the #2 and #3 offenses, this was a total defensive struggle as the two teams combined for just 56 points, there were five total turnovers, eight combined sacks, and multiple times where teams were stopped on downs. The great news is that the Carolina Cobras (10-5) prevailed,

beating Massachusetts Pirates (8-7) by a score of 30-26 and will advance to face the winner of the Columbus Lions vs Jacksonville Shark game (Tuesday), for the NAL Championship on August 17, 2019, the location has yet to be determined.

This was a sloppy game on the offensive side of the ball for both teams as the defenses dominated. The Cobras got the ball and drove down the field, only to be turned over on downs as QB Charles McCullum was sacked on fourth down. The Pirates were not able to answer as they too turned it over on downs. On the next Cobras drive Jordan Jolly fumbled and turned it back over to the Pirates. This time the Pirates capitalized, with a 20-yard pass from QB Sean Brackett to Rannell Hall for the score. With the PAT it was 7-0 Pirates and that is how we ended the first quarter.

Read more…

(Thanks to Oursportscentral.com, American Football International and Gridiron Developmental Football League for these stories.  Please go to their sites and support them.)

Football Friday

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Milano (Italy) Runs Away to their third straight Italian Bowl title

Here’s a recap of this week’s report of American football from around the world:

AMERICAN 7s FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The A7FL, which is a 7-on-7 full-contact football league in which players do not wear hard pads or helmets, is in the playoff round of its 2019 season that featured a 16-team North East Division of teams located in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The A7FL is in its fifth season and eventually hopes to expand with various regional divisions across the United States. The 2019 regular season ran from early April to late June with each team playing seven or eight games.

AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE

The owner of the Wheeling-based West Virginia Roughriders stated there is no truth to rumors the team will fold, but it is uncertain whether the team will return to the AAL next season.

ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Balitmore Brigade (6-4) became the third team in the AFL to clinch a playoff berth and will be in the postseason for the third consecutive season.  The Brigade secured their position on Saturday, July 6 after the Atlantic City Blackjacks lost to the Philadelphia Soul.  Read more….

Current Standings:

  1. Albany Empire (8-2)
  2. Philadelphia Soul (7-4)
  3. Baltimore Brigade (6-4)
  4. Washington Valor (5-5)
  5. Atlantic City Blackjacks (4-7)
  6. Columbus Destroyers (1-9)

ELITE INDOOR FOOTBALL

The EIF recently announced two more new teams called the Northern Nemesis (Springfield, IL), and the Southland Power (Chicago/Palatine, IL) have been added for 2020 as part of the league’s new Mid West Division. The Southland Power was the 2019 champion of the semi-pro Indoor Football Association. The EIF previously announced teams called the Ozarks Mountain Express (Lebanon, MO), Music City Fire (Nashville, TN) and Louisville Kings would also join for the 2020 season.

INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Indoor Football League’s 2019 -United Bowl will be broadcasted on FOX Sports Arizona Plus as they attempt to win their second championship in three seasons. The game will also be streamed live on the free FOX Sports GO app and also on FOXSportsGO.com. Chris Harris and Randy Gatewood will continue to be the announcers for the bowl game as they have been for the Rattlers the entire 2019 season.

The Rattlers will face the Sioux Falls Storm (13-3) for the title. Sioux Falls has gone to the United Bowl in ten straight seasons, while the Rattlers have appeared in their championship game in seven of the last nine seasons. The 2019 United Bowl takes place Saturday, July 13, 2019 at Gila River Arena. Kick off is slated for 6:05 p.m. AZT.

The FOX Sports Arizona Plus broadcast, beginning at 5:30 p.m. AZT, will include a 30-minute pre-game show as well as a 30-minute post-game show.

The United Bowl can also be seen on YouTube. The official IFL channel can be found here: www.youtube.com/IndoorFootballLeague

NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE

The #1 ranked Jacksonville Sharks (10-1) are sailing into Week 14 on a 10-game win streak, their third longest win-streak in team history. They travel to Massachusetts to take on the Pirates (7-4), who are on a streak of their own with six straight wins after defeating the New York Streets 54-52 last Friday night. If the Sharks win, they will clinch the #1 seed and secure home field throughout the playoffs. The Sharks currently lead the regular season series 1-0 against the Pirates after winning in Worcester 55-36 in Week 4.  Read more….

Current Standings:

  1. Jacksonville Sharks (10-1)
  2. Carolina Cobras (8-3)
  3. Massachusetts Pirates (7-4)
  4. New York Streets (3-8)
  5. Columbus Lions (3-8)
  6. Orlando Predators (2-9)

NATIONAL GRIDIRON LEAGUE

The indoor professional NGL, which failed to start play as planned in 2019, announced player combines and tryouts will be held in Brunswick (GA) later this month as the league plans for a 2020 season. The NGL has 12 proposed teams aligned in Eastern and Western conferences, each with three-team North and South divisions.

XFL

The new outdoor professional XFL, which plans to start play with eight teams in February 2020, was reported to have registered the Wild, Force, Fury, Dragons and Surge as potential nicknames for the league’s Seattle franchise.

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUES

AUSTRIA

The Prague Black Panthers downed the SonicWall Mödling Rangers in a game that was closer than expected while the Danube Dragons got by the Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants in a game that was just as close as expected as the Austrian Football League wound up its Wild Card weekend.

Both Prague and the Dragons move to the semifinals this weekend. The Black Panthers will travel to Vienna to face the Dacia Vienna Vikings while the Dragons head to Innsbruck to take on the unbeaten Swarco Raiders.

Read more…

BRAZIL

The Sampa Bowl, the São Paulo Football League championship final, is set! The Corinthians Steamrollers and Rio Preto Weilers will battle for the right to call themselves the best of the state of São Paulo in Brazil!

The Corinthians Steamrollers and Rio Preto Weilers had the best records during the regular season of the São Paulo Football League and now will face each other on July 14th at 13:30 (Brasilia Time) at the Iberapuera Park in São Paulo. The game will be televised by one of Brazil’s top TV station, BAND, and in its international channel, BAND INTERNATIONAL which will televise the game to six countries, including the United States, Argentina, Mozambique, Angola, Uruguay and Paraguay.  Read more…

GERMANY

As the German Football League has hit a four week break with only three games scheduled during that time, let’s take a look at the offensive stats leaders.

After eight rounds of play in the 14 game GFL season, there are still some surprising leaders in the three key offensive categories, passing, rushing and receiving yardage.

What is also clear is that no one team is dominating the stats although two teams remain undefeated, the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns and Braunschweig New Yorker Lions.  Read more…

HUNGARY

The Fehérvár Enthroners survived a furious second half comeback by the Kiev Capitals to edge Kiev 14-12 to win Hungarian Bowl XIV and capture their first Hungarian title

Both teams were playing in their first ever Hungarian Football League (HFL) final last Saturday. Since the top league in Hungary changed its name to the HFL in 2012, no team based in Western Hungary has ever won the championship. However, Kiev, from the Ukraine, is not the first foreign team to reach the final. The Bratislava Monarchs from Slovakia won the title in 2015.  Read more…

ITALY

The Milano Seamen exploded for four unanswered touchdowns in the last 14 minutes of the Italian Bowl to pull away from a stubborn Firenze Guelfi team to win 62-28 and capture their third consecutive Italian title and fifth in six years.

Wide receiver Xavier Mitchell caught a diving 20 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Luke Zahradka with just over a minute to go in the third quarter to jump out to a 41-28 lead in what had been a see-saw battle. That seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the Guelfi, and Milano ran off two more touchdowns and then defensive back Marco Aletti scooped up a fumble with a minute let and raced 53 yards for the final score.  Read more…

SERBIA

The Kragujevac Wild Boars captured their fourth consecutive Serbian championship and ninth overall in beating the SBB Vukovi Belgrade 60-55 in a shootout at the “Čika Dača” field in Serbian Bowl XV.

The Wild Boars jumped out to a 40-27 halftime lead and boosted it to 46-27 before Vukovi mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback.  Read more….

SWEDEN

The Stockholm Mean Machines proved once and for all that they are for real in defeating the Carlstad Crusaders 49-35 to win their second straight Swedish championship this past weekend

If there were any doubters left, they are now on the bandwagon. Stockholm is back on top. They downed the eight-time champion Crusaders for the fourth time in four games although Carlstad kept it close until late in the fourth.  Read more…

(Thank you to American Football International and Our Sports Central for these reports.)

 

Football Friday – 6/28/19

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QB Luke Zahradka threw 3 TD passes to lead Milano to Italian Bowl

AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE

Championship week is finally here for the American Arena League title game. The Roughriders (12-0) will host the Carolina Energy, Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at WesBanco Arena.

The Riders advanced to the final with a 45-6 win over the West Michigan Ironmen in the Northern Conference Championship. The Energy come in at 9-0 following their 52-38 win over the Carolina Havoc in the Southern Conference Championship Game.

The Roughriders have been just as dominant in the playoffs as they were during the regular season outscoring their two opponents, 102-19. The Roughriders defeated the Energy last season in the semifinals to advance to the championship game.

ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Columbus Destroyers fell to the Philadelphia Soul, 42-35, on Saturday night in front of 7,604 fans at Nationwide Arena, the largest crowd of the season. With the loss, the Destroyers drop to 1-8 on the season. Quarterback Grant Russell completed 23 of his 39 passes for 237 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions in the loss. Wide receiver Fabian Guerra hauled in nine passes for 75 yards and three touchdowns, while wide receiver Paul Browning caught two more scores.

Current Standings:

  • Albany Empire (8-1)
  • Baltimore Brigade (5-4)
  • Philadelphia Soul (5-4)
  • Washington Valor (5-4)
  • Atlantic City Blackjacks (3-6)
  • Columbus Destroyers (1-8)

This Week’s Schedule:

  • Columbus at Baltimore
  • Albany at Philadelphia
  • Atlantic City at Washington

CHAMPIONS INDOOR FOOTBALL

The Omaha Beef (8-4) defeated the Sioux City Bandits (7-5) 60-50 in a win to get in scenario Saturday night. The win put them in position to play Salina for the third time this season and a shot to play in the CIF Championship.

During the third quarter, the scoring amongst both teams went back and forth with a quarterback duel in the air and on the ground. Both Derrick Bernard and Turner had two passing touchdowns in the quarter, but the legs of Bernard changed the game after his 26-yard rushing touchdown in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Omaha took the lead for the first time since the second quarter (39-34). The Bandits battled back after scoring a touchdown and recovering an onside kick to take the lead right after. Bernard was able to keep his composure and lead the Beef to another score and Jermicheal Williams closed the game with his second onside kick recovery for a touchdown on the season.

Current Standings:

  • Northern Division
    • Salina Liberty (8-4)
    • Omaha Beef (8-4)
    • Sioux City Bandits (7-5)
    • Wichita Force (2-10)
  • Southern Division
    • Duke City Gladiators (9-3)
    • Amarillo Venom (8-4)
    • Oklahoma Flying Aces (2-10)

This Week’s Schedule:

  • Omaha at Salina
  • Amarillo at Duke City

INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE

FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF RESULTS:
SIOUX FALLS STORM 50, TUCSON SUGAR SKULLS 47
The Sioux Falls Storm moved to 12-3 after defeating the Tucson Sugar Skulls 50-47 on Sunday, June 23. The Sugar Skulls would be the first to score in the fourth quarter after a six-yard touchdown pass by Jake Medlock to Jeremiah Harris to bring the score to 36-34. The Storm answered with a six-yard rushing touchdown by Lorenzo Brown to put the Storm up 43-34. The Sugar Skulls would respond with a 12-yard touchdown pass by Jake Medlock Shaquan Curenton to bring the score to 43-41. The Storm answered with a seven-yard rushing touchdown by Calen Campbell to give the Storm a 50-41 lead. The Sugar Skulls would end the game with a two-yard rushing touchdown by Matt Behrendt and an unsuccessful two-point conversion to bring the final score to 50-47.

NEBRASKA DANGER 45, GREEN BAY BLIZZARD 40
In the Blizzard’s first playoff appearance since 2012 they played tight all the way through, but ultimately came up short losing 45-40. The Blizzard defense stopped the Danger twice on the goal line in the closing minutes to give the Blizzard the ball with a 39-40 lead and just seconds remaining on the clock. However, an untimely fumbled snap gave the Danger the ball once more and they took advantage. Running Back Davonte Sapp-Lynch found the end zone with a 2 yard score giving the Danger a 45-40 lead with just 35 seconds remaining on the clock. Following a return by veteran B.J. Hill, the Blizzard had great field position, but were unable to convert as a last second heave from Quarterback Lenorris Footman was knocked away by the Danger defense as time expired.

This Week’s Schedule:

  • United Conference Championship:  Sioux Falls at Iowa
  • Intense Conference Championship:  Nebraska at Arizona

NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE

The Massachusetts Pirates (5-4) extended their win streak to four games defeating the Columbus Lions (3-5) 59-50. The win puts the Pirates over the .500 record mark for the first time this season. Sean Brackett led the Pirates offense, completing 25 of his 37 passes with 273 yards through the air and six total touchdowns. Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard caught 11 balls for 113 yards and four touchdowns, and also added a rushing score. The Lions were guided by Luke Collis, who went 21-43 with 305 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions.

The Lions started the fourth quarter with another Collis-to-Mack touchdown, which marked the fourth time the duo connected for six points in the contest. The score put the Lions within three points of the Pirates, as they then trailed 46-43. However, Brackett led his offense downfield and completed the drive by doing his best Tom Brady impression as he went up-and-over the linemen to sneak it in from one-yard out on fourth and goal. Collis responded with another touchdown, this time finding receiver Chris Sanders-McCullum from three yards out. The Pirates put the game out of reach on their following drive when Gilyard rushed for a three-yard touchdown with under a minute left in the game. The Pirates defense put the nail in the coffin on the final Lions possession of the game when linebacker Tavarus Dantzler hit Collis as he released a pass, causing the ball to spring up into the air and land into the hands of Toby Johnson for the interception to seal the nine point win.

Current Standings:

  • Jacksonville Sharks (8-1)
  • Carolina Cobras (6-3)
  • Massachusetts Pirates (5-4)
  • New York Streets (3-6)
  • Columbus Lions (3-6)
  • Orlando Predators (2-7)

This Week’s Schedule:

  • Massachusetts at Columbus
  • Jacksonville at New York
  • Carolina at Orlando

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUES:

AUSTRIA

Europe’s American football community will be keeping a close eye on Innsbruck’s Tivoli Stadium Saturday, June 29 when the current Austrian and CEFL Champion, the Swarco Raiders, will host the Dacia Vienna Vikings, Austrian Bowl record holders and five time European Champions, for the 2019 ECTC championship title.

The European Club Team Competition has reached its final and most important event in its very first year of existence. Organized by IFAF Europe, the ECTC started with a total of 13 teams from 11 different countries – Austria, France, Sweden, Serbia, Finland, Turkey, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Poland – and has now been whittled down to two.

Vienna’s road to the ECTC Final saw them defeat the Badalona Dracs from Barcelona, Spain 38-8. They had soundly defeated Denmark’s Triangle Razorbacks in the opening game of the tournament. With that victory, the Vikings won the ECTC Central Division.

The Vikings were to have faced the Helsinki Roosters, winners of the Northern European Football League crown, to decide the ECTC final, but Helsinki was unable to play in the final leaving the Vikings with a walkover.

Swarco needed a late-game rally to defeat the Calanda Broncos 46-42 in CEFL Bowl XIV to capture their third straight title and qualify for the ECTC final. They had previously defeated France’s Thonon Black Panthers who they dominated 41-7. They then manhandled the Milano Seamen from Italy, 50-23.

Dacia Vikings Head Coach Chris Calaycay, Swarco Raiders HC Shuan Fatah and IFAF Europe Director Gregor Murth presented their views prior to this important match-up.

CANADA

Lucky Whitehead scored twice to lead the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a 28-21 win over the Edmonton Eskimos in their first home game of 2019.

The first-year receiver dazzled a crowd of 25,336 at IG Field in Winnipeg, scoring a 75-yard touchdown in the first half and eluding defenders for a highlight-reel 41-yard catch and run in the third quarter.

The Bombers, meanwhile, survived a late-game turnover on a fumble by Andrew Harris — one of two fumbles on the night — forcing three straight incompletions to hold off a late rally from the Eskimos and preserve the victory.

GERMANY

The 5-2 Stuttgart Scorpions withstood a late rally to edge the Munich Cowboys (2-4) 21-19 in German Football League seventh round action at GAZi-Stadion in Stuttgart this past weekend.

The Cowboys, trailing 21-6, dominated the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns but missing a 42 yard field goal with no time left on the clock.

Stuttgart had built a 21-6 lead early in the fourth when the Cowboys mounted their furious comeback.

Stuttgart quarterback Michael Eubank threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 15 of 29 passing. Wide receiver Pascal Flöser had four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown while Tyler Cooperwood had two receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. while rushing for another. Flöser kicked all three extra points.

ITALY

The Milano Seamen are headed to their sixth Italian Bowl in seven years and third straight after shutting out the Lazio Ducks 38-0 in Milan this past weekend in Itay’s Div. 1 semifinals.

There was no doubt in this game as the Seamen jumped out to a 27-0 first half lead and never looked back as Lazio’s offense sputtered all game long. While Milano recorded modest numbers totaling 242 yards of offense, they didn’t need to do more as the Ducks could only muster 96 yards of offense, only 30 in the air.

Milano’s stifling defense was too much for a Lazio team that coughed up the ball time and again. The Ducks fumbled three times, all of which led to scores. They also had a punt blocked on the goalline and that too led to a touchdown.

Seamen quarterback Luke Zahradka was an efficient 15 of 23 for 206 yards and three touchdowns with Gianluca Santagostino catching four passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Claudio Buccellato caught the third. Danilo Bonaparte rushed for one touchdown and Arnaud Mboutcha recovered a fumble in the end zone for the fifth Milano touchdown. Stefan Di Tunisi had a quiet day on offense but kicked a field goal and four extra points.

So the Seamen will now face the Firenze Guelfi in the Italian Bowl, July 6.

POLAND

Poland’s Liga Futbolu Amerykańskiego championship game this Saturday pits the 2018 champion Bialystok Lowlanders against the 2017 Polish champions, the Wroclaw Panthers in a rematch of the 2018 final.

Bialystok edged the Panthers 14-13 in the 2018 final winning their first ever Polish title.

To reach this year’s final, the Panthers, playing in the South Conference, finished the eight-game regular season without a loss. They then cruised to an easy 52-6 win over the Gdynia Seahawks in the semifinals.

Bialystok topped the North Conference with a 6-2 record and in the semifinal round shocked the Tychy Falcons, beating them 49-19.

Nashville Sports Loses Nightwatch gains Power

nightwatch.pngPowerMost people won’t hear about it on the local news but the more obscure sports in the Music City has lost one franchise but gained another recently.

The Nashville Nightwatch professional ultimate frisbee team announced this week that they will no longer field a team in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL).  The Nightwatch played four seasons in the AUDL’s Southern Division but never had a winning season.  They showed a lot of promise at times but could only post an 8-44 record and finished last place each season.  In their Facebook announcement this week the team posted:

“We would like to thank our players and supporters from the last 4 years. Going forward we will not be playing in the AUDL. We are going to turn our efforts into building our community through club efforts and focusing on our Professional Women’s team, Nashville NightShade. We will be forming a club team with the goal of competing at the highest level. Our experiences learned in the AUDL will allow us to give our club team a pro experience and grow with our community. More information to come, and thank you for your support.”

The Nightwatch organization has been one of the more influential franchises in promoting women’s ultimate so it appears that the Nightwatch could live on through their female counterparts.  I’m not sure how the club team will work out and competing at the “highest level” will look like but with the AUDL being the only professional ultimate league, this announcement will leave a void.

The Nightwatch could never get the following necessary to sustain a start-up professional franchise, especially in a non-major sport.  The press never really helped the Nightwatch plus the fact that they could not field a competitive team on the field.  The team also could never find a good home as they began at Tennessee State University in their inaugural season then moved to Overton High School in their second season and then a terrible move to Hunter’s Lane High School in North Nashville the following season and finally to an awkward field at Vanderbilt University.  The move to the Vanderbilt area was one I thought would help but the home field was not really a spectator-friendly venue.

With the demise of the Nightwatch, another team has moved into the void as the Nashville Power brings the city their first indoor football team since the Nashville Venom played in 2014-2015 at the Municipal City Auditorium.  The Power will also call the Auditorium home when they kick off their season in the spring of 2019.  The Power will play in the Elite Indoor Football League which is basically a semi-pro type league in comparison to the bigger leagues.  The Power will join 12 other teams located throughout the East and Southeast.

Although they are playing in an obscure league, they will have a local favorite involved.  One of the greatest arena league players of all-time, Cory Fleming, is the Power’s defensive coordinator. Fleming played for the Kats (1997-2001, 2006), Carolina (2002) and Orlando (2003-05). The former Stratford and Tennessee star was inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Will this new indoor team make it?  I doubt it.  The league looks pretty weak.  There had been rumors of the return of the Nashville Kats franchise in the National Arena League (NAL) or even a new team in the Arena Football League (AFL) but nothing has been made public.

Don’t be surprised if the Power doesn’t last any longer than the Nightwatch.

SW Florida To Debut New Arena League

ALeagueA new arena “football” league is set to begin play in four Southwest Florida cities in 2019.  I put the word “football” in quotes because one of the unique rules will be no kicking.  No punts, field goals or extra points will be allowed.  The league has been organized by the ownership group of the Lakeland Tarpons.  Other teams will include the Sarasota BigCats, Gulf Coast Fire (Ft. Myers) and Manatee Neptunes (Bradenton).

The Tarpons have bounced around several leagues since they were an expansion team in the Ultimate Indoor Football League (UIFL) in 2012.  They moved to Arena Indoor Football (AIF) in 2016 and then Arena Pro Football (APF) in 2017.  They played this past season in the American Arena League (AAL).

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Lakeland Tarpons will have a league of their own in 2019

The A-League will feature several unique innovations.   There will also be new rules designed to speed up game play and enhance the fan experience. Teams will only carry 16-man rosters, which must include at least two players who play both offensive and defense. Dubbed “The Deuce”, these two way players must play all 60 minutes on both sides of the ball.

There will also be no kicking in the game. The elimination of the kicking game dramatically improves the pace of the game and eliminates many dead ball fouls and timeouts. Teams will scrimmage from their own five-yard line, or if turned over on downs, will scrimmage from that spot.

A totally unique element of the A-League is the scheduled double header game concept. All four teams will host a regular-season doubleheader where all teams will play in the same arena in back-to-back games.

The A-League season will run from May to the end of July, 2019. All teams are owned and operated by A-League Sports with teams located in a tight footprint of local Florida markets including, Lakeland, FT Myers, Sarasota and Bradenton. Plans are in place for the addition of two to four new teams for the 2020 season. Each team will play an eight-game regular season with four home games in each team’s home venue.

The A-League is developing partnerships with regional semi-pro teams to develop talent for their rosters.

The A-League will join the Arena Football League (AFL), Indoor Football League (IFL), Champions Indoor Football (CIF), American Arena League (AAL), National Arena League (NAL) and National Gridiron League (NGL) on the indoor turf next season.

For more information on the A-League you can click here.

 

Atlanta Havoc, Duke City Gladiators Win Indoor Titles

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AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE:  ATLANTA HAVOC 58, RICHMOND ROUGHRIDERS 50

Unlike their NFL neighbors in Super Bowl 50, the Atlanta Havoc put up 32 unanswered points, thanks in part to five second-half interceptions that proved costly as the Havoc stunned the Richmond Roughriders 58-50 in the American Arena League championship game.

The Roughriders, who won the Arena Pro Football League title last season, went into the half with a 43-26 lead.

Havoc QB Darren Daniel found Thyron Lewis Sr. for a 26-yard touchdown to open the second half and make it a 43-33 game, as the Havoc began closing in.

Richmond sent former Virginia Tech standout Bryan Randall out at quarterback in the second half. On the Roughriders’ first possession of the half, Randall was picked off by Micheaux Robinson, who ran in for a score to cut the Richmond lead to three, 43-40, with 10:46 to play in the third quarter.

Randall was intercepted by Robinson again on the next Richmond possession. And the Havoc went on to score on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Daniel to Lewis to take its first lead, 47-43, with 6:07 left in the third quarter.

Richmond added a 30-yard touchdown from Kent to Rashaad Carter with two minutes to play, to cut the Atlanta lead to 58-50.

Richmond was set to have one final possession, but the Roughriders were penalized for an illegal defense on a play where Atlanta took an intentional safety to run additional clock. The Havoc got the ball back and were able to run out the clock and claim the title.

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Duke City QB Caleb Holbrook Leads Gladiators to Champions Bowl IV title

 

CHAMPIONS INDOOR FOOTBALL:  DUKE CITY GLADIATORS 31, SIOUX CITY BANDITS 27

Caleb Holbrook completed 15 of 25 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns as the Duke City Gladiators defeated the Sioux City Bandits 31-27 in the Champions Bowl IV at Tingley Coliseum here Saturday.

Duke City, who sported the top passing offense and the best rushing defense in the CIF, held the Bandits to 65 yards rushing on the evening. Sioux City, tops in the league in rushing offense and passing defense, ends its season at 11-4.

Duke City outscored the Bandits 17-3 in the third quarter. The Gladiators took the lead for good on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Holbrook to Sedrick Johnson, giving Duke City a 24-20 lead with 6:58 left in the third quarter.

After Duke City extended its lead to 31-20 with 1:02 left in the third quarter on a Clifton Rhodes touchdown run, the Bandits responded with a touchdown drive of their own. After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave the Bandits a third and 21 situation from their own 8, Liam Nadler completed a screen pass to Darren Miller that went for 39 yards and gave Sioux City first and goal from the Duke City three.

Miller scored on a 3-yard run on the next play to trim the Duke City lead to 31-27 with 12:42 left in the game.

This is Duke City’s first title in their four-year history.  They defeated Wichita (44-39) and Texas (41-28) in the playoffs.

Obscure Sports Report (4/23/18)

 

PCL champ

Armenia Eagles Celebrate PRO Chess League Championship

PRO Chess League:  After two draws that kept extending a playoff, Zaven Adriasyan won in game three of his sudden-death blitz match with Wang Yue to give the Armenia Eagles the championship in the PRO Chess League.   The Eagles finished the regular season winning the Eastern Division with a record of 6.5-2.5.  They were the only #1 seed to advance to California, meaning they were both the Eastern Division champions in the regular season, and won the divisional bracket in the postseason. The opening round of the playoffs saw them cruise over the Estonia Horses 10.5-5.5, while in the quarterfinals they used their top-seeded draw odds to get by the Mumbai Movers after an 8-8 score.

AMERICAN ULTIMATE DISC LEAGUE (AUDL):  The Raleigh Flyers (3-1) continued img_2254their dominance over the Nashville Nightwatch (0-2) as they took advantage of crucial turnovers by the Nightwatch in the third quarter to get some separation for a 31-26 win in Nashville.  Jacob Fairfax went up for an incredible goal in between Nashville defenders as time expired before halftime to give the Flyers some momentum.  This was Raleigh’s 10th straight win over Nashville.  In the earlier women’s game, the Raleigh Radiance won in sudden death overtime over the Nashville Nightshade 15-14.

PBA BOWLING LEAGUE:  The Silver Lake Atom Splitters dominated their semifinal and final matches Sunday to win the Professional Bowlers Association’s Elias Cup for the third time in five years at Bayside Bowl in Portland.  The team of Jesper Svensson, Dick Allen, A.J. Johnson, Tom Daugherty and Chris Barnes won all eight games during the two-day tournament, capped by four straight victories in the finals against the Philadelphia Hitmen.

SOUTHERN PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE (SPHL):  Splitting the first two games in the SPHL semifinals, the Huntsville Havoc and Macon Mayhem needed overtime in game three to determine which team’s season would come to an end and which would move on to the championship series.  Both clubs were evenly matched, but the Havoc scored late in the third to send it to the extra frame and Peter Sikalis notched his first goal of the playoffs in overtime to send Huntsville on the SPHL finals.

ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE (AFL):  The Philadelphia Soul (2-0) unveiled their ArenaBowl championship banner in their home opener and defeated the Baltimore Brigade (1-1) in their home opener 54-49.  With only seconds left in the game, Dan Raudabaugh found Darius Reynolds in the end zone for the win.

AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE (AHL):  Matthew Highmore, Chris DiDomenico and Lance Bouma contributed three unanswered tallies to break a 2-2 deadlock in the second period and guide the Rockford IceHogs to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Wolves in front of a crowd of 5,418 at the BMO Harris Bank Center Sunday night. With their win, the IceHogs now hold a 2-0 lead in their first-round Calder Cup playoff series against the Wolves, and are just one win shy of advancing to the second round.  In other series, Lehigh Valley 1, Providence 1; Charlotte 2, Wilkes Barre/Scranton 0; Toronto 2, Utica 0; Syracuse 2, Rochester 0; Grand Rapids 1, Manitoba 1; Tucson 1, San Jose 1; Texas 2, Ontario 1.

ECHL:  The Ft. Wayne Komets defeated the Cincinnati Cyclones 4-2 at Cincinnati Sunday in game 5 of the Central division semifinals and eliminated Cincinnati 4 games to 1 in the best-of-seven first-round series to advance to round 2 against the Toledo Walleye.  The Komets rallied from a 2-1 deficit with three unanswered goals late in the third period from Jason Binkley, Phelix Martineau and Cold Sol in a span of 6:11 to take the win and advance to the second round series for the fifth straight season. Fort Wayne Goaltender Michael Houser earned the win making 16 saves on 18 shots.

FEDERAL HOCKEY LEAGUE (FHL): The battle for the Commissioners Cup got interesting on Saturday night as the Watertown Wolves pulled of a 3-2 win in Port Huron to even the best-of-five series at 1-1. Anton Lennartsson scored at 12:40 of the third period on a Wolves power play to break a 2-2 tie. The goal stood up as the game winner, disappointing 1,279 Prowlers fans in attendance at McMorran Place Arena.

NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE (NAHL):  For the sixth time in eight seasons, the Austin Bruins will appear in the Central Division Finals. After defeating the Minnesota Wilderness 5-3 on Saturday night at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet, they took the Semifinal series, three games to one and will play either the Aberdeen Wings or Minot Minotauros next weekend for the right to represent the Central Division at the Robertson Cup Tournament.

UNITED STATES HOCKEY LEAGUE (USHL):  The Clark Cup is down to the final four teams as they square off in the conference semifinals.  In the Eastern Conference Semifinals:  Team USA and Chicago Steel are tied at 1-1.  Youngstown leads Dubuque 2-0.  In the West:  Waterloo and Lincoln are tied 1-1.  Omaha and Fargo are tied 1-1.

WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE (WHL):  A night after a close Game One victory, the Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes got right back at it for Game Two and it was a close contest. Former Lethbridge Hurricane and now Swift Current Bronco forward Giorgio Estephan had a night to remember as he potted his second career WHL postseason hat trick in the most dramatic of ways, 4-3 in overtime.

AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE (AAL):  Jacques Alston scored touchdowns the first four times he touched the ball to stake the Heroes to a four-touchdown lead and set the tone for an 89-20 American Arena League rout of the Upstate Dragons at the Crown Coliseum.  Darting and spinning his way through the Upstate defense, Alston had touchdown runs of 13, 28 and 16 yards in the opening quarter along with a 35-yard scoring reception. He added a fifth touchdown run from five yards out in the fourth quarter to cap a six carry, 68-yard rushing effort.

NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE (NAL):  The Carolina Cobras (2-1) opened their second home game of the season with a victory over the Massachusetts Pirates (2-1) 55-47. This win leaves the NAL with one undefeated team, which is the Columbus Lions (2-0).

INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE (IFL):  The Sioux Falls Storm faced the Cedar Rapids Titans on Saturday, April 21 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center during a week nine contest. The Storm came out on top 65-48 against rival Titans.

CHAMPIONS INDOOR FOOTBALL (CIF):  The Omaha Beef got back to their winning ways with an important win against the Kansas City Phantoms 47-41. Anthony Iannotti led the offense with six total touchdowns (3-running and 3-passing) and Chris Perry added two interceptions returning one for a touchdown for the defense.

NATIONAL LACROSSE LEAGUE (NLL):  The Calgary Roughnecks swept the series with the Vancouver Stealth (4-0) with a 26-11 victory over the Stealth and tied a franchise record for most goals for in a single game.

COASTAL PLAIN LEAGUE (CPL):  The Lexington County (SC) Blowfish of the summer-collegiate CPL will be renamed the Lexington County Pancakes when the team plays the league’s newest team called the Macon (GA) Bacon during the 2018 season.

 

 

The State of Indoor Football

The indoor version of football is at a crucial point of its existence in my opinion. Whether it is called arena or indoor football, it has been with us since 1987 when the Arena Football League (AFL) gave us a Reader’s Digest version of professional football. Since then, dozens of leagues have come and gone. In the early years, other leagues were not allowed to copy the AFL’s version of the game because they had a copyright enforced which prohibited other indoor leagues for having the rebound nets and even using the term “arena football”. That copyright expired several years ago and other leagues sprouted up. Today, there are seven leagues in existence. They are:

• Arena Football League (1987)

• Indoor Football League (2008)

• Legends Football League (2009)

• Champions Indoor Football League (2015)

• China Arena Football League (2016)

• American Arena League (2018)

• National Arena League (2017)

Aside from the Legends Football League listed above, the other leagues are legitimate indoor football leagues. The LFL is a sad gimmick to exploit women players in my opinion.

The Arena Football League was once considered the major league of indoor football but the league is barely staying afloat as they began this season with four teams all located in the Northeast. The league once had 19 teams in 2007 as well as a minor league system known as AF2 which played from 2000-2009. The AFL is at a critical stage of their existence. The league recently named Randall Boe as their new commissioner last month and former Philadelphia Eagles’ Quarterback Ron Jaworski as Chairman of their Executive Committee. They have promised to being committed to the sport. There have been rumors that the league will expand over the next few seasons and possibly reclaim some of their best markets.

The Indoor Football League (IFL) looked like they were going to step in and take over as the sports’ top league when Arizona Rattlers, one of the AFL’s top franchises defected to the IFL in 2016. The IFL has failed to take advantage of the AFL’s instability with their own issues. On July 25, 2017, the IFL announced that only the Arizona Rattlers, Cedar Rapids Titans, Green Bay Blizzard, Iowa Barnstormers, and Nebraska Danger had committed to play for 2018. On August 30, the Sioux Falls Storm announced that they had joined the Champions Indoor Football League after winning six consecutive IFL championships from 2011 to 2016. The Storm was shortly followed by the Wichita Falls Nighthawks.

The IFL then attempted to lure the Bloomington Edge and West Michigan Ironmen from the CIF. The CIF attempted to sue the IFL, Edge, and Ironmen for leaving the CIF after the two teams had already signed league affiliation agreements with the CIF for 2018. The IFL then threatened to sue the CIF. The CIF then retracted their lawsuit with the IFL but also removed the Storm and Nighthawks from their 2018 schedule. After the IFL meetings in October 2017, the Storm returned to the IFL but the Nighthawks had to suspend operations. While the CIF dropped their lawsuit against the IFL, it filed for an injunction against the Edge and Ironmen teams from participating in the IFL for breaking the terms of their signed affiliation agreements. A temporary injunction from participation in the league was granted on January 31, 2018, with the court ruling determining that both teams had been offered bribes from the owner of the Arizona Rattlers to break their contract with the CIF.

The AFL also had the Jacksonville Sharks to defect to the National Arena League (NAL) in 2017.

Top Ten Indoor Football Teams:

1. Philadelphia Soul (AFL)

2. Arizona Rattlers (IFL)

3. Washington Valor (AFL)

4. Iowa Barnstormers (IFL)

5. Jacksonville Sharks (NAL)

6. Sioux Falls Storm (IFL)

7. Omaha Beef (CIF)

8. Baltimore Brigade (AFL)

9. Columbus (Georgia) Lions (NAL)

10. Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (NAL)

In the past two seasons, indoor football has lost some longtime franchises such as the Orlando Predators, Cleveland Gladiators, Spokane Shock and Tampa Bay Storm. The Tampa Bay Storm had a history of success on the field but often struggled for attention in the Tampa Bay Area. When I lived there from 2012-2014, I barely heard a word about the Storm and was very difficult to find any game stories in the local media.

With the AFL slowly sinking into the graveyard of defunct sports leagues, the sport of indoor football needs to get a grip of the situation now in order to save the sport. I think the sport can be saved.

Here are four ideas that I believe could save Indoor Football:

    1. Have a real partnership with the National Football League (NFL). In the past the NFL has had agreements with the AFL but nothing of substantial significance. It would solidify a strong foundation if the NFL subsidized the indoor sport and use it as a development league for referees, coaches and players.
    2. Unity of all the Indoor leagues. If you really want to strengthen the sport, I think the key is to play together. All the teams should be in the same league and then classified by market size. This “Super League” could be divided by classifications such as AAA, AA and A. This would also help lower travel costs and better create regional rivalries.
    3. Revise the rules. The current game puts a lot of emphasis on the passing game and is more of a quarterback league. The game should make the running game more of a part of the game. One way to do this would be to have one back in the backfield to start the play and one receiver in the formation with four linemen. Another idea would to make the field slightly bigger for arenas that would allow the space.
    4. Develop the game at the local level. This is something that has been a huge oversight for indoor football teams. Each indoor team should establish a local indoor league for high school and amateur players so they can get introduced to the game and possibly move up to the pro team. It would serve as a feeder system for the pro team to develop new talent.

Indoor football is a good, off-season alternative to fall football. It is worth saving and preserving. A few major changes are vital to keeping and growing the sport. The leagues have turned into nothing more than semi-pro football leagues with teams that come and go overnight. Stability is important and the sport needs to find it now.

Football Friday

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I Hate To Tell You This But…The XFL May Play Again

1/5/18

The college football semifinal playoff game between Georgia and Oklahoma was a classic.  What a battle between two explosive teams.  Oklahoma jumped out to a 17-point lead in the first half but Georgia came back to win on RB Sony Michel’s 27-yard touchdown run in overtime to propel the Bulldogs to their first national championship game since the early 1980s.  Oh yeah, Alabama beat Clemson to advance as well.  Personally, Alabama should have never been in the playoffs but it is what it is.  The college football national championship will be played on Monday night in Atlanta’s shiny new stadium named after an expensive car.

Did you see that the University of Central Florida finished the season as the only major college to go undefeated? Yep, they finished their perfect season with a win over Auburn.  I read today that UCF is going to have a national championship parade in Disney World.  I know, I had to snicker at that too but, really, shouldn’t UCF had been given a wildcard or something for being undefeated? Yes, I know they play in the American Athletic Conference or something like that but just the fact they went undefeated should have got them somewhere in the playoffs.  It didn’t and – no – they aren’t going to be the official national champions outside of Disney World.  The playoff system won’t be right until they give all the conference winners a chance to play for the national championship.

I don’t know how to pick the Georgia-Alabama game.  I don’t it will be a high-scoring game.  I’m just going to watch the game and not risk jinxing anybody by making a pick.

In other football news:

The Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons rounded out the playoff field for the National Football League (NFL) playoffs this weekend.  Let me just get it off of my chest here – if Derek Henry ever learns to run straight he will be hard stop.  Please!  Pick the hole and run through it!  With that said, I think the Tennessee-Kansas City match up is pretty interesting.  Don’t be surprised if Tennessee wins.  Stranger things have happened.  The Carolina-New Orleans matchup will probably be the best one of the wildcard weekend.  Here’s how I see it going:  Tennessee 21, Kansas City 16; Los Angeles Rams 33, Atlanta 24; Carolina 37, New Orleans 34; Buffalo 20, Jacksonville 17.   Now go place your bets….

There are rumors that the XFL is going to come back.  Lord, I hope not.  You remember that one-year wonder right?  It was put together by WWE’s Vince McMahon.  Who could forget “He Hate Me”?  The league was quite gimmicky.   I used to have a Memphis Maniax jersey.  Dang, I should have kept it.  Don’t hold your breath for the XFL.  Aside from the United States Football League (USFL) – which most think was ruined by our current prez – no other league has been able to survive against the NFL.

Here are some of the best spring football leagues (that actually played):

  1. United States Football League (USFL)
  2. World League of American Football (WLAF)
  3. NFL Europa
  4. XFL

A new indoor football league called the Fan-Controlled Football League (FCFL) – nope I didn’t make this up folks – is planning to kick off this year with eight teams.  This strange league will allow fans to build up something called Ethereum-based FAN tokens and use them to manage the action both on and off the field.  So the games will be controlled by fans sitting in their seats drinking beer and chowing down on their nachos?  Yeah, okay, I think I can watch some grass grow somewhere.

Here are the indoor leagues scheduled to play in 2018 (defending champs):

  • Arena Football League (Philadelphia Soul)
  • Indoor Football League (Arizona Rattlers)
  • Champions Indoor Football (Texas Revolution)
  • China Arena Football League (Beijing Lions)
  • American Arena League (none)
  • National Arena League (Jacksonville Sharks)

Mater Dei of Santa Ana, California are the USA Today National High School Football champions.  They finished at #1 in the USA Today Super 25 poll with a record of 15-0.  Yeah, doesn’t excite me that much either.  Well, here’s the rest of the top ten in the final poll:

  • IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
  • St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, MD)
  • St. John Bosco (Bellflower, CA)
  • Allen (Allen, TX)
  • Ben Davis (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Pickerington Central (Pickerington, OH)
  • Cypress-Fairbanks (Cypress, TX)
  • Pine-Richard (Gibsonia, PA)

The Rome Wolves (Rome, GA) finished #16 as the highest-ranked Georgia team but I really still can’t talk about it.  Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, TN) over here in my backyard finished #22.

The Jerusalem “Big Blue” Lions shutout Beersheva 45-0 in the Israel Football League (IFL) to remain the only undefeated team at 8-0.  Jerusalem QB David Abell completed 19 of 30 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Lions.

In the American Football League of China, the Shanghai Titans and Shanghai Warriors will meet in the championship game.  Both teams will be looking to become the first team in league history to win two championships.  The Titans defeated the Shanghai Nighthawks 27-14 in their semifinal game as Titans’ receiver Jibril Rasheed scored on a 19-yard touchdown in the third quarter to put the Titans up 27-14.  The game was called early in the fourth quarter due to a fight which broke out resulting in multiple player ejections.  The Warriors defeated the Chengdu Pandaman 26-8.  A four-yard touchdown run by Chris Gardner midway through the third quarter gave the Warriors a 20-0 lead to pull away from the Pandaman. (I’m not making this up)

The Seoul Vikings scored the winning touchdown with nine seconds left to defeat the Goeje Bluestorm to win their fifth Korean National Football League title.

 

 

Rattlers Strike For Indoor Football League Title

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In their 25th Anniversary season, the Arizona Rattlers rewarded their fans with their first title in the Indoor Football League (IFL).

The Rattlers moved from the Arena Football League (AFL) where they had lived for the previous 24 seasons to the IFL.  The Rattlers defeated the Sioux Falls Storm 50-41 to win the United Bowl championship and denied the Storm of a seventh straight title.

Arizona looked like they would runaway with a total domination of the title game as they put up a 34-7 lead at halftime but held on and an interception in the final minute preserved the win.

The Rattlers defense did not allow a first half touchdown with the only score by the Storm coming on special teams.  Justin Shirk (#30) had 1.5 sacks, a tipped ball, and was in Storm QB Lorenzo Brown’s face all night.  His efforts earned him the United Bowl Most Valuable Player (MVP). Defensive back Arkeith Brown also had a big night, breaking up two passes and grabbing the game winning interception, returning it 46 yards.

The Storm climbed back into the game in the third quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points. WR Judd Harold pulled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Brown.  Shortly after Robbie Rouse ran seven yards for another score.  The final score came from DL Brandon Peguese who picked off Sokol and returned it two yards for the touchdown.

The Rattlers finally got back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a seven-yard run by Monroe.  Arizona was also able to follow that up with a 23-yard field goal by Sawyer Petre.  Sioux Falls responded with a five-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Harold, pulling the Storm to within ten.  The Rattlers then extended their lead, again off the foot of Petre, this time a 23-yarder.  The Storm would again close the gap on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Brown to WR Mike Tatum. Petre came up big again for the Rattlers with 47-seconds left, kicking a 28-yard field goal to put the team up by nine.  The Storm drove down the field one last time, but was picked off by DB Arkeith Brown, who returned it 46-yards.

The Rattlers started the season at 4-4 but went on a 10-game winning streak on their way to the title.    It was the first championship for the Rattlers since winning the ArenaBowl in 2015.

The question now is will the Rattlers stay in the IFL or will they return to the AFL if there is stability in the league?  There has been no word of it to this point.  As indoor leagues continue to evolve, it would seem that the IFL is a more stable organization at this time.