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.
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.
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 their 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 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
United States Football League (USFL)
World League of American Football (WLAF)
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.
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.
The Philadelphia Soul (10-0) remained undefeated with a win over the Cleveland Gladiators (3-8), 59-28 in front of 10,580 fans at the Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night. Soul WR Shaun Kauleinamoku led the receivers with six receptions for 143 yards and three touchdowns. WR Darius Reynolds added six receptions for 57 yards and one touchdown and WR Ryan McDaniel tallied six receptions for 56 yards and two touchdowns. Cleveland WR Michael Preston led the receivers with seven receptions for 68 yards and two touchdowns.
Philadelphia Soul (10-0)
Tampa Bay Storm (7-2)
Baltimore Brigade (3-6)
Cleveland Gladiators (3-8)
Washington Valor (1-8)
The Sioux Falls Storm (15-2) soared past the Iowa Barnstormers (13-4) 66-32 on Saturday, June 24th in front of 6,225 fans to bring home their eighth consecutive United Conference Championship. The Arizona Rattlers (13-4) clinched a trip to the United Bowl in their inaugural Indoor Football League season, powering past the Nebraska Danger (9-8) by a score of 62-36 and became the 2017 Intense Conference Champions in front of 15,038 fans at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Downtown Phoenix. Sioux Falls will host Arizona in the United Bowl on July 8th.
The Jacksonville Sharks defeated the Monterrey Steel 43-32 in the National Arena League Playoffs for the right to go to the National Arena League Championship on Monday, July 10 against the Columbus Lions. The Shark Tank was filled with 9,483 fans dressed in red as they cheered the Sharks to victory. Columbus edged the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks 52-50 in their playoff game. The Lions were down 21-9 at the half but used a 23 point 4th quarter to seal the win. Durron Neal led all Lions receivers with three touchdowns while Mike Reeve and Tristan Purifoy added two each in the win. Jacksonville will host Columbus on July 10th for the NAL Championship.
The Texas Revolution defeated the Omaha Beef 59-49 on Friday night to win the Champions Bowl III. The Revolution never trailed in the game as Chris Dixon scored two early first-half touchdowns to help the Revolution build a 39-21 lead at halftime.
Tymere Zimmerman, Jay Jackson and DeLeon Raynor, all of whom were part of a 2012 squad that went unbeaten and won the American Indoor Football crown, turned in clutch performances as the Heroes rallied to defeat the Triangle Torch, 30-24, for the Supreme Indoor Football championship. Zimmerman helped Cape Fear wipe out an early 12-0 deficit with touchdown receptions of 8 and 4 yards, then Raynor delivered three fourth-quarter interceptions to give the Heroes momentum. Jackson followed the first of Raynor’s picks by hauling in an over-the-shoulder throw by quarterback Ryan Bach for a 27-yard score with 5:02 to play that proved to be the winning points.