Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Daily League News & Notes

Arena Football League
Gladiators Open 2013 Training Camp with Returning Star Receiver, Former NFL'er and New Quarterback
The fifth season of Gladiators football in Cleveland officially began today with the open of the team's 2013 training camp at MultiPlex at The Word Church in Warrensville Heights. Thirty five players began practice, before the roster gets cut to 28 after one week and then the final 24 the following week. The Gladiators will open the season at home, hosting Spokane on Sunday, March 24th at 1:00 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena. The team has announced that all kids age 14 and under will be able to attend the opener for free.
The complete 2013 training camp roster can be seen here:
Head coach Steve Thonn returns to the Gladiators sideline for his fourth season in 2013, after leading the team to an 8-10 record last year.
Fans will recognize several players returning from last season, among which Dominick Goodman is the most notable. The wide receiver is entering his third season with the Gladiators and in the AFL. He led the team in both receptions and receiving yards the past two seasons and was named Second Team All-Arena in 2012.
The majority of the players taking the field to start 2013 are new to the Gladiators, including former NFL player and Glenville High School graduate, Pierre Woods. Today marked Woods' return to football since his NFL career ended following the 2010 season. The University of Michigan alum played for the New England Patriots from 2006 to 2010 before finishing the 2010 season, and his career, with the Buffalo Bills.
There are two new quarterbacks reporting to camp; Brian Zbydniewski and Chris Dieker. Zybydniewski is entering his fourth season in the AFL, having played previously for New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Spokane. He has recorded a total of 3,009 yards and 59 touchdowns over the past three years. This season will be Dieker's second in the AFL, after spending 2012 in Iowa, where he threw for 246 yards and four touchdowns.
When the Gladiators open the season at The Q on March 24th, all kids age 14 and under will be able to come to the game for free. For every one adult ticket purchased, two kids tickets will be free of charge. In addition, with the "Fun, Food and Football" ticket offer, for every ticket purchased for the home opener, $5 in loaded ticket value - which can be used for concessions or merchandise at The Q - will be added per ticket for free.
The complete 2013 Gladiators regular season schedule can be found here:
Eager Soul Players Start Padded Practices
The 2012 American Conference Champion Philadelphia Soul, presented by Parx Casino, completed their first day of padded practices at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia. After much anticipation, the players were finally able to start hitting and running plays at full speed.
The competition on the football field was evident today, as the players were finally able to showcase their skills. The coaches were able to evaluate how the lineman battled out at the line of scrimmage. The newcomers to the defensive front (Morkeith Brown, Calvin Fance, Brandon Johnson, Andre Mathis, Michael Robinson, and Lawon Scott) were finally able to show their abilities to read plays, pursue the ball and make the tackles.
The repetition of training camp will begin as tomorrow will consist of more contact practices. The players should have a high intensity in their motors, as Friday will bring the first cuts of the roster.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: OL CHRISTIAN JOHNSON (6'4", 330, Kentucky): Three-year veteran, OL Christian Johnson, enters his second season with the Philadelphia Soul. Last season, Johnson started in all 14 games he played and contributed towards the Soul allowing the least amount of sacks in the AFL (5). As a rookie in 2011, Johnson started every game for the Dallas Vigilantes. While playing at Kentucky, during his first start as a junior, Johnson helped lock down the offensive line to allow zero sacks and record 125 rushing yards to let Kentucky defeat the 2007 BCS Champion, LSU.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "To start hitting again felt real good," said Soul veteran LB Bryan Robinson. "This is the way football is suppose to be played. It's good to see everyone coming together to where they need to be. The first couple of plays, you know, you're a little rusty but we've been trained and we've been playing the game for a while. After a few snaps, we're good to go. I'm excited to see everyone get back to their football mindset, see the offense gel. On defense, we already know what we need to do, we just got to get the team back to where we left off."
CHANGE OF COMMAND: DB Kent Richardson (6'0, 200, West Virginia) and DB Rayshaun Kizer (5'10, 190, Walsh) were the top leaders for the Soul secondary last season, recording a combined 25 interceptions and 45 pass breakups. The two led the Soul to having the second overall pass defense in the AFL during the 2012 season.
Kizer, the league-leader in interceptions in 2011, had yet another record-breaking season in 2012, as he defended a league-high 41 passes. He set the Soul season record for pass breakups in a season (30). To go along with his pass-defending skills, Kizer finished second on the team in total tackles (81).
With Richardson on the league-exemption list, Kizer is now in the spotlight to be the new leader of the secondary. After a phenomenal 2012 season, there will be high expectations for Kizer and the Soul secondary. Led by returning starter LaRico Stevenson, the Soul will look to Jeff Hodges, Darius Pettigrew, David Richardson and James Romain to also battle it out.
Where There Are Pads, There Are Oklahoma Drills
On this third day of training camp the Tampa Bay Storm strapped on the pads and participated in Oklahoma drills. This is an exciting event that everyone on the team looks forward to. It is also a useful tool to get the players used to the physicality and rush of adrenaline that comes with the big hits on the field.
"We wait for something like this," said second-year Storm linebacker John-Kevin Dolce. "We work hard all off-season waiting for days like this. I can't wait to start getting after guys in different jerseys."
While most days consist of drills on the open field, this one forces offensive and defensive players into a small, restricted space. Once the whistle blows there is no stopping the action. Whoever steps into the zone knows immediately that they are in for some big hits and tons of excitement. This drill also shows the coaches, and team, the players that are committed and willing to take a hit out on the field.
The Storm finished the day with meetings, watching film, and running situational drills.
Coaches' Perspective: "It was good to see these guys out there in pads," said Storm head coach Dave Ewart. "They may be a little sore, but it is good to get the rust off.
Quote of the Day: Talking about the Oklahoma drill, Storm wide receiver Michael Lindsey said, "It feels great to get the pads on and start working on hitting. It really separates the men from the boys."
Player Spotlight: Today's "Player Spotlight" goes to Alfred McCullough. The rookie offensive lineman was a two-time BCS National Champion with the Alabama Crimson Tide. He spent some time in the National Football League with the Baltimore Ravens, and Philadelphia Eagles. During today's drills he stood up several defensive linemen and showed his ability to protect his quarterback in the fast-paced game of arena football.
Alumni Sighting: Former Storm quarterback John Kaleo came to visit the team today. Kaleo won an ArenaBowl Championship in 2003 with the Tampa Bay Storm. He continues to develop high school quarterbacks at the Kaleo Quarterback Academy. While observing offensive drills Kaleo said, "I am really interested in observing the quarterbacks. They looked good out there."
ESPN Radio to broadcast San Antonio Talons games
ESPN-AM 1250 once again will broadcast live each of the San Antonio Talons’ games this season on the radio and online.
Each broadcast will include a pre-game show hosted by 1250 ESPN San Antonio play-by-play announcer Eric Messersmith and Talons head coach Lee Johnson.
Sharks Training Camp Report - March 4
The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks took to the Plantation Park field on Monday morning for the team's first full-contact practice of 2013 training camp.
With all players wearing shoulder pads and ready to hit, the Sharks had their most competitive session of one-on-one work to date. Receivers and defensive backs squared off in both one-on-one and three-on-three matchups, highlighted by showdowns between longtime Shark veterans in receiver Jeron Harvey and defensive back Micheaux Robinson.
In the trenches, the Sharks' offensive and defensive linemen enjoyed the physicality of the day's workout. This served as a great opportunity for fourth-year offensive lineman Isaac Morales welcome some of the team's new faces along the defensive line, including veterans Dusty Bear and Matt Marcorelle and rookie Malcolm Riley. In addition, fullback Rendrick Taylor had some notable collisions with the Shark defenders rushing from the Mac linebacker position.
Once again, the practice concluded with a lengthy team session that pitted offense against defense. While the tension was constantly high between the whistles, the goal remains overall team improvement, as evidenced by a number of occasions between snaps when veteran players gave specific suggestions and other instruction to younger players.
Player Spotlight
Entering his fourth AFL season, defensive lineman Dusty Bear has joined the Sharks after spending a season with the Philadelphia Soul. Following Monday's practice, the Sarasota native talked about getting the chance to play in his home state.
"My whole family is from down here in Florida, and I feel so comfortable being here back home in the state," Bear said. "And Jacksonville has a great fanbase and it's a great place to be. It's going to be an honor for me to play here."
With the Soul last season, Bear battled through injury to finish the campaign with 19 total tackles (15 solo), five tackles for loss and three sacks. He also recovered three fumbles, grabbed an interception, forced a fumble and broke up a pass. As someone with experience at both the defensive end and Mac linebacker positions, Bear touched on the differences between the two spots.
"It's just a mental thing. When I get down at D-end, I know I have to play bigger than what I am, because I'm going against a guard or a tight end that's a little bit bigger than me." Bear said. "At Mac you've got to be a little more responsible with the guys, relaying the play and communicating."
Up Next
The Sharks return to Plantation Park on Tuesday morning for another full-contact workout. The practice is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. and will be open to the public.
"Barnstormers Weekly" Returns March 19th
The Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League are pleased to announce that for the fourth straight season, OverTime Neighborhood Hub Sports & Grub in Urbandale will be the official home of the Barnstormers Weekly radio show. The show will air live from OverTime each Tuesday night from 6:00pm - 7:00pm on KXNO AM 1460, as part of the Barnstormers new radio agreement with Clearchannel Radio.
Veteran sports broadcaster Joe Stasi returns for his sixth season as host of Barnstormers Weekly. Each show will feature live interviews with Barnstormer players and coaching staff, along with a re-cap of the previous week's game and a preview of upcoming opponents. There will be food and drink specials for Barnstormer fans and season ticket holders along with great prizes all season long. OverTime Neighborhood Hub Sports & Grub is located at 4810 86th Street in Urbandale, just South of I-80/35. The first show of the 2013 season will air on Tuesday, March 19th at 6:00pm.
The 2013 Iowa Barnstormers season begins on Saturday March 23rd with a road contest against the Chicago Rush. The home portion of the schedule begins Friday, April 5 when the Spokane Shock come to town for a 7:05pm kickoff.
VooDoo Straps on the Pads
The New Orleans VooDoo strapped on pads for the first time in training camp and for the 2013 season on Monday morning at Tad Gormley Stadium.Monday's practice started off with position drills, which was followed by 3-on-3 drills for the wide receivers and defensive backs, and offensive and defensive line work.  After the two sides took a quick break, both the offense and defense scrimmaged against one another.The scrimmage was full of intensity with the offense and defense putting forth maximum effort.   Here is what Head Coach Pat O'Hara had to say about his team's fourth practice overall and first in pads:
The New Orleans VooDoo will travel to San Antonio on Tuesday for their first and only exhibition game of the season which will be held at the Alamodome on March 6.

Lone Star Football League
Amarillo Venom Single Game Tickets on Sale
Single-game tickets for the Amarillo Venom home games are now on sale. Come and check out your Amarillo Venom as they return to the field Saturday, March 23 and start their campaign for a repeat at the Lone Star Football League championship.
Here is the schedule of home games:
o Saturday, March 23- vs. New Mexico Stars
o Saturday, April 20- vs. Laredo Rattlesnakes
o Saturday, May 4- vs. Abilene Bombers
o Saturday, May 18- vs. San Angelo Bandits
o Saturday, June 1- vs. Laredo Rattlesnakes
o Saturday, June 22- vs. New Mexico Stars
Fans can purchase their tickets at the Amarillo Venom office at 901 S. Buchanan or call us at (806) 350-7277.
Tickets can also be purchased online at
For more information of the Amarillo Venom fans can visit

Professional Indoor Football League
Panthers 4th Annual "Meet and Greet Party" Huge Success
The Panthers are well-loved. Evidence of how the Albany area feels about its Professional Indoor Football League team could be seen in the numbers that crowded Phoebe Field on Friday to enjoy the club's annual Meet and Greet.
"You have to love this team," said Albany resident Wanda Dyson, who was one of more than 1,000 people in attendance. "The organization does more for the community than all the other pro teams combined. And the team has heart. You've heard that song, 'You've Gotta Have Heart?' Well, this team has heart. I can't wait for the season to get started."
And the feeling was mutual with Panthers players, who were on hand throughout the event. "Our fans are great," said Cecil Lester. "They always support us. I'm real excited about this season, and it seems like the fans are more excited about this year than years past.
"We've got plenty of fans. I was in Atlanta and Macon this offseason and saw a lot of Panthers fans, and look at them out there today."
Added Adrian Howard: "[It] feels like the fans are really excited about the way we finished last season and the new acquisitions, like Stony Woodson and Cecil Lester coming back." Panthers General Manager Will Carter smiled when looking out at the field swelling with Panthers fans.
"It's a great turnout," Carter said. "There are a lot of Panthers fans here. Hopefully they'll come out and keep supporting the team. I'm excited about this team. It's a good team and I think we have a chance to go back to the Championship."
Fans began to pour through the Albany James H. Gray Civic Center gates at 5 p.m. ET and they continued to do so through closing time at 8 p.m.
This year's event included interactive activities, increased player involvement and an array of autograph opportunities, activities for all ages and photo opportunities with club mascot Prowler and a host of Panther players.
Special discussions took place with Panthers broadcasters, players, coaches and media personnel. "We've had a great day," said an exhausted looking Kate Tabor. "I think it's really nice what the Panthers do. I'm looking forward to a great season."
The Panthers kick off the season on the road against the Louisiana Swashbucklers Saturday, March 9th at 8p.m. ET. You can catch all the action on 97.3 WGEX-FM.

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