Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Daily League News & Notes

Arena Football League
Dolezel Becomes Hall Of Famer With Class Of 2012
Philadelphia head coach Clint Dolezel will be inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame on April 13. The ceremony will take place before the Philadelphia Soul and Iowa Barnstormers game at 7 p.m. Along with Dolezel, five others, including Iowa head coach and former Philadelphia head coach Mike Hohensee, will be inducted as members of the Class of 2012.
The former standout quarterback finished his 13-year playing career in 2008 with the Dallas Desperados with career numbers: completed 3,749-of-5,698 passes (65.8 percent), a QB Rating of 117.75 and 95 victories as a starting quarterback.
"He might be the most competitive player that ever put on the pads," said Philadelphia Soul general manager and AFL Hall of Fame Operating Board member, Tom Goodhines. "He was already acting as a coach on the field and was consistently among the League's best year-in and year-out and has the statistics to back it up. His teams were always in the hunt for a title whenever he was under center."
At the time of his retirement; Dolezel is No. 3 in career passing yards (44,564) and No. 2 in touchdown passes (931). Dolezel is also the first quarterback in AFL history to throw for over 400-yards in a game and first to do it six times. He matched one of the League's most vaunted then-records by throwing for 11 touchdowns in a game three different times. He threw for over 100 touchdowns in a season twice (2006-07) and led his team to a 15-win season (15-1 in 2007). He also has a championship to his credit when he led the Grand Rapids Rampage to the title in 2001.
Others from the 2012 Hall of Fame Class include: QB Sherdrick Bonner, the Greatest Quarterback in AFL History according to the Silver Anniversary Committee in 2012; HC Mike Dailey, a two-time ArenaBowl champion coach (XIII, XIX); WR/DB Randy Gatewood, a six-time All-Arena selection and three-time All-Ironman selection; current Iowa Barnstormers HC Mike Hohensee, who won ArenaBowl XX as a Head Coach and owns the third spot in AFL history for most regular season wins (135); Founding Partner William Niro, one of the original founders of the AFL; and DB Clevan Thomas, a five-time All-Arena selection and 2002 Rookie of the Year and two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Game Preview: Chicago Rush vs. Pittsburgh Power
The Rush (1-2) follow up their first victory of the season with a return to the Allstate Arena this Sunday at 3:00 pm to take on the Pittsburgh Power (0-2). This game will mark the first time in AFL history that the two franchises play each other. In addition, the Rush are hosting their first annual "Rush Against Violence". For every ticket sold, the team will donate one dollar to Chicagoland afterschool and summer programs. The Rush have teamed up with local youth groups, teams, churches, and police stations to help bring more awareness to violence in the Chicagoland area. In addition, Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens will be on hand to conduct the coin toss ceremony.
On the field, the performance of Rush Wide Receiver/Kick Returner Rodney Wright has been one of the bigger stories so far in 2013. His 24.2 kickoff return yard average ranks first in the AFL through three games, and he is fourth in the league averaging nine receptions a game. Wright has performed at a high level on both offense and special teams, and his 198 all-purpose yards per game is third in the AFL. The Rush have taken advantage of the versatility that Wright brings to the team, and he adds a strong weapon to complement Reggie Gray's scoring abilities. Gray's 16 points per game is the fourth highest in the league.
On the other side of the ball, the Rush defense gave up 139 points, 571 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns, all while forcing no turnovers through their first two games. Those stats obviously led to an uncharacteristic start, resulting in the Rush being non-existent on both the defensive statistics board and in the win column. Week three saw a different Rush defense take the field as they intercepted two passes and forced two fumbles against the San Antonio Talons. The Rush allowed just 193 passing yards, but perhaps more indicative of a strong turnaround was the stingy defense the Rush played on third and fourth down. San Antonio was 4-for-8 in third down situations and 0-for-3 on fourth down. Despite having the edge in time of possession (including having the ball for over nine minutes in the second quarter), the Talons were unsuccessful in over half their drives.
The Rush will look to capitalize on the potential turnover opportunities once again in the matchup against the Power, whose rookie quarterback Jordan Jefferson has thrown two interceptions in both of their games. Despite his early season rust, Jefferson's potential ceiling is nearly non-existent. If his name is familiar, that's because he accumulated 4,733 passing yards and 34 TD in his career at Louisiana State University. He also holds the LSU school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,018.
Despite their quarterback's past successes, Pittsburgh has struggled early in the 2013 season, falling 64-33 to the Utah Blaze in week one, and 61-35 to the Jacksonville Sharks in week two. While it won't be the easiest situation still seeking their first win away from home, the Power coaching staff is more than familiar with Chicago. Former Chicago Bear and Super Bowl XX winner Mike Tomczak is the offensive coordinator of the Power. Power Head Coach Derek Stingley played for the Rush in 2001, and is on the AFL First Team 15thAnniversary Team. In addition, he's the son of Chicago native and former NFL great Darryl Stingley. Pittsburgh's line coach is John Sikora, who was the lineman of the year for the Rush when they won ArenaBowl XX in 2006. He played a total of five years in Chicago from 2004-2008.
If you're not in attendance, be sure to tune into the CBS Sports Network's online stream of the game at The Rush will head west following this week's matchup and take on the Utah Blaze on Saturday, April 20 at 8:00 pm. The game is the AFL Game of the Week and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.
VooDoo Returns to Action against Undefeated Jacksonville
The New Orleans VooDoo (1-1) come off of their bye week as the team travels to Jacksonville, Fla. this Saturday to take on the American Conference's lone undefeated team, the 3-0 Sharks.
These two South Division rivals last met June 30, 2012 in the New Orleans Arena, when the VooDoo defeated the Sharks in a 65-55 shootout. Both teams are looking to build on success from a year ago. The Sharks enter 2013 as defending South Division champions, and the VooDoo is hoping to get back to the playoffs for the second straight year.
The VooDoo offensive line will have to keep a watchful eye on the Sharks' league-leading pass rush. Jacksonville defensive linemen Jerry Turner and Rashaad Duncan are Nos. 1 and 2 in the league in sacks. Turner has four, and Duncan has three. The Sharks have a total of 11 sacks on the season, while the VooDoo has three.
Jacksonville quarterback Bernard Morris has been outstanding this season. Morris has completed 70.9 percent of his passes, thrown 18 touchdowns, and has a 133.05 passer rating. Morris is also yet to throw an interception, but he will face veteran defensive back Eddie Moten who has two interceptions this season. New Orleans has three total, and one returned for a touchdown (DB Efe Osawemwenze, week 1). Morris tossed seven touchdowns in Jacksonville's 66-49 victory over the Cleveland Gladiators last week. Morris has also been part of a potent rushing attack for the Sharks. Morris is second in the league with 73 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Right behind him is Jacksonville fullback Rendric Taylor, who has 72 yards on the ground. The VooDoo will also have to deal with prolific Jacksonville receiver Jeff Hughley, who has 28 catches for 323 yards, just under half of Morris' total yards passing this season. Hughley also has six touchdowns.
New Orleans quarterback Kurt Rocco improved steadily from game 1 to game 2. The young signal caller has struggled at times connecting with his receivers leading to a completion percentage just under 50 percent, but he has counted on receivers Derek Lee and Courtney Smith who combine for 21 catches, 252 yards, and six touchdowns. Donovan Morgan returned to the lineup in week 2 and contributed a game high seven catches (tied with Lee) in the loss to Iowa. Rocco has managed to spread the ball around a bit more than Morris, which could be a key to the game. Rocco has thrown to six different receivers to Morris' five.
Another key to this game will be how much New Orleans can continue to play well defensively. The VooDoo has only allowed 46.5 points per game, while Jacksonville has scored 63.7 points per game. The VooDoo defense will need to continue to play well if they are going to shut down the potent Sharks. New Orleans also needs to take advantage of opportunities. In the loss to Iowa, the Barnstormers were penalized five times defensively on one drive, but the VooDoo was unable to turn that drive into points. The VooDoo was also unable to capitalize on Moten's interception, which led to a turnover on downs.
The game is set for 8:00 p.m. eastern at the Veterans Memorial Arena, where New Orleans is looking for its first road win in team history against Jacksonville.

Champions Professional Indoor Football League
Wild Look to Rebound against Edge
The Wichita Wild (4-1) will travel to Bloomington, Illinois on Friday, April 12th to square off against the Bloomington Edge (2-2) in U.S. Cellular Coliseum; kick-off scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Wichita enters the game after having their season opening win streak snapped at four games, falling 40-36 to the Kansas City Renegades on Saturday night in Kemper Arena. Bloomington earned their second win of the season last Friday night, defeating the Lincoln Haymakers 62-46 in U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
Wichita came out uncharacteristically sluggish against Kansas City, going down 13-0 early before defensive back Kiaree Daniels intercepted a two-point conversion attempt and returned it to the Renegades' endzone to provide the Wild with two points, cutting the lead to 13-2. The Wild started to gain momentum in the second quarter, as defensive back Chris Hemphill intercepted a Renegades pass, leading to quarterback Rocky Hinds throwing a fade pass to wide receiver Joe Kassanavoid for a touchdown in the back left corner of the endzone, pulling Wichita within four points of Kansas City, 13-9. After the Renegades scored quickly to pull ahead 19-9, Hinds again found Kassanavoid for a touchdown pass to bring the score to 19-16 as the first half drew to a close. After the Wild failed to score on their first possession to start the third quarter, both teams traded scores, putting the score at 33-30 in favor of the Renegades entering the final quarter. Kansas City extended their lead to 40-30 early in the fourth quarter with a 10 yard touchdown pass. With about six minutes left in the game, Hinds continued to push the Wild with a five yard run to set up a field goal, but kicker Alex Fambrough missed the extra point to leave the score at 40-36 in favor of the Renegades. Kansas City's next drive stalled, providing Wichita with a chance for a late victory, but the game ended when Hinds threw his second interception of the game, giving Kansas City a 40-36 win over the Wild. Hinds finished the game with 262 passing yards and four passing touchdowns along with 24 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.
In Bloomington's game against Lincoln on Friday night both teams struggled offensively from the start, as the Edge finished the first quarter with a 6-3 advantage. The offense opened up in the second quarter, but the score remained close until Bloomington quarterback David Knighton threw his third touchdown of the game, giving the Edge a 28-19 lead going into the half. Bloomington's momentum continued immediately at the start of the third quarter with running back LaVaughn Macon returning the opening kickoff 54 yards for a touchdown. Lincoln struck back a couple minute later, converting a 22 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Bolles to wide receiver Nick Rhodes. After a brief scoring drought from both teams, the Edge again scored two consecutive touchdowns to push their lead to 49-26 early in the fourth quarter. With both squads trading touchdowns the rest of the quarter, Bloomington earned a 62-46 victory over Lincoln. Knighton and wide receiver Jason Tillery were the primary playmakers for the Edge, with Knighton throwing for 204 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions, while Tillery caught five passes for 84 yards and three touchdowns.
Wichita and Bloomington square off on Friday after facing each other two weeks ago, with the Wild clinching a 52-22 victory over the Edge. Rocky Hinds cashed in on six touchdowns, four through the air and two on the ground and defensive lineman Matt Moss added three sacks to power the defense. The stellar play by Hinds and Moss earned them CPIFL Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week respectively. The Wild began the scoring with a six yard touchdown pass from Hinds to wide receiver Tim Simmons to give Wichita a 7-0 lead. The Edge responded with a touchdown, but failed to convert the extra point, pulling within one of the Wild, 7-6. Wichita then scored three consecutive touchdowns, giving them a 26-6 advantage, before Macon provided Bloomington with a rushing touchdown to pull the score to 26-14 at halftime. Wichita's defense closed the door on Bloomington in the second half, ending several Edge drives in turnover on downs. The defensive performance, including a safety, allowed the Wild offense to score 26 unanswered points giving Wichita 52-14 advantage. As the game drew to a close, Bloomington would finally break through with a touchdown pass and two-point conversion, but it would not be enough as Wichita earned their fourth win of the season, 52-22.
Player to Watch: Wide Receiver Tim Simmons
Tim Simmons, currently ranked third in the CPIFL with 21 receptions and second on the team with 183 receiving yards, has been a reliable target for Hinds this season. In Wichita's game against Kansas City, Simmons led the team in receptions and receiving yards with nine catches for 76 yards and was a reliable playmaker for the Wild on third down throughout the game. Simmons has been a proven commodity in indoor football and he is continuing his reliability in his second season with Wichita. Look for Simmons' playmaking ability to continue for the Wild in Bloomington this Friday.
The Wild will be on the road to take on the Bloomington Edge in U.S. Cellular Coliseum on April 12th; kickoff scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CST.
Haymakers Prepare For Rivalry Game Against Omaha Beef
The Lincoln Haymakers are getting ready to gear up for their first meeting with instate rival, the Omaha Beef on Saturday April 13th. The Haymakers are looking to add another win to their schedule after falling to the Bloomington Edge this past weekend. The Haymakers look to take down the leagues last remaining undefeated team in Lincoln Saturday night.
The Omaha Beef will be making their way to Lincoln coming off an overtime win over the Sioux City Bandits who beat the Haymakers two weeks ago. The win over the Bandits moved the Omaha Beef to the leader of the league and an undefeated schedule. The test for the Haymakers will be matching up against the Beef's 2nd ranked total offense and total defense.
The Haymakers look to rebound after the Bloomington loss where on offense the team struggled with third down conversions only completing 30%. Bloomington also took advantage of turnovers and red zone visits. Defensively Andre Jones led the team in six tackles followed by Montez Robinson and Michael Pace with five each.
This week the Haymakers are looking to find a clear favorite at the Quarterback position. Starter, A.J. Toscano is ranked fifth in the league in pass completion percentage with 8 passing scores, and a QB rating of 70.3. Toscano has raked in 288 yards in the first 3 games this season splitting time with Bolles. Blake Bolles currently leads the league in yards per rush with an average of 8.7 yards and helped jumpstart the offense in last week's game with 2 TD passes and 2 rushing TD's. In just two games Bolles has 127 yards passing with an overall rating of 40.7.
A win this weekend will put the Haymakers right back into the playoff hunt against the top team in the league. The show begins at 6:30 with kickoff at 7:05 at the Pershing Center in Lincoln as the Haymakers host their second home game.
Outlaws Sign Two New Quarterbacks
The Mid-Missouri Outlaws signed two new quarterbacks to the team this week. Outlaw's previous Quarterback Kyle Middleton retired after eight seasons with the team.
The team signed Damien Dunning and Kyle Christian. Dunning went to the University of Arkansas Pine Bluffs where he majored in physical education. Christian went to Malone University in Canton Ohio, where he majored in Business Management.
At the University of Arkansas Pine Bluffs, Dunning played football for two years then transferred to play for the Evansville Rage. Dunning has had previous NFL experience. He was an alternate for the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. Christian played one year for Malone University then transferred to Wyoming Calvary where he played in the Indoor Football League.
"I am excited to join the team; they have a lot of potential. I feel like I can be successful in running the team's offense," said Christian.
"Being vocally involved and showing support for the team is a way to provide inspiration to the team," said Dunning.
The Mid-Missouri Outlaws are a professional indoor football team based out of Sedalia, Missouri. They are members of the Champions Professional Indoor Football League that plays eight-man arena football. The Outlaws are Three-Time Central Plains Football League (CPFL) Champions. They bring together the experience and passion to build a championship team with local talent while promoting organized competitive football programs for youth.

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