Arena Football League
Rush Fans to Decide Saturday's Coin Flip Via Twitter Poll
@ArenaRush followers will have the opportunity to decide whether the Chicago Rush will call heads or tails in the opening coin toss for the CBS Sports Network's nationally televised game Saturday, April 20 when the Rush take on the Utah Blaze at EnergySolutions Arena.
"We are always looking for new and innovative ways to get our fans more engaged with the Rush," said Rush executive vice president Ryan Simmons. "We believe leaving the fate of the heads or tails coin toss decision in the hands of our fans through Twitter is another fun way to do that."
The Rush invite fans to vote on heads or tails by tweeting to @ArenaRush from anywhere in the Twitter world using the hashtag #iCall and the reasoning behind their vote. Fans are encouraged to have fun and be clever with their reasons why the Rush should call heads or tails. One lucky follower will win four VIP tickets to the next Rush home game for the best #iCall tweet. Voting starts immediately and will end Saturday, April 20th at noon central time.
This is believed to be the first time an Arena Football League team has given fans the power to make the call for a coin toss. The Chicago Rush are no stranger to firsts in the AFL. In 2011, they were the first team in the league's history to conduct a teddy bear toss for the home team's first touchdown in a game. The toss is used more traditionally in minor league hockey.
Be sure to watch all the action live on the CBS Sports Network starting at 8:00 pm. To find out if your cable provider carries the CBS Sports Network, follow the link for CBS' Channel Finder: http://www.cbssportsnetwork.com/channel-finder.
Former Kansas City Chiefs OL Rich Ranglin Returns to San Jose
The SaberCats today announced that they have been assigned former Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman and the Arena Football League's 2011 Spalding Offensive Lineman of the Year Rich Ranglin on a two-year contract.
"Rich is and has proven to be one of the best linemen in this league," said Owner/Head Coach Darren Arbet. "With the addition of Rich to our current group, we should have a versatile, talented unit on the offensive line that should provide us with more flexibility going forward."
Ranglin (6-3, 315, Central Connecticut State) returns to San Jose after spending last season as a member of the National Football League's Kansas City Chiefs. He saw action in all four preseason games for the Chiefs. Ranglin started the first nine games of the 2012 season for the SaberCats. In those games, he hauled in a total of four catches for 48 yards and was a major component of an offensive line that protected the quarterback very well in the first half of the season, allowing just nine sacks and ranking fifth in the league at that time.
In 2011, his second season in the league, Ranglin was one of the few offensive linemen in the AFL to play in all 18 games. He was a constant force on the offensive line, helping the Kansas City Command rank in the top half of the league in total (300.4 yards/game) and passing offense (276.7 yards/game). A threat in the receiving game, Ranglin also ranked in the top ten among offensive linemen in the AFL in receiving yards with 67 in 2011 on four receptions.
The Yonkers, N.Y. native joined the Command after spending his rookie season in the league with the Milwaukee Iron, who finished the 2010 season with an 11-5 record en route to winning the Midwest Division. Playing in ten games for the Iron, Ranglin helped the team rank first in the league in sacks allowed with only one on the year, while the Milwaukee offense led the league in numerous offensive categories including scoring offense (65.4 points/game), total offense (349.3 yards/game) and pass efficiency (126.7).
A four-year letterman at Central Connecticut State from 2003-07, Ranglin was a Preseason All-American selection as a senior in 2006, eventually earning second-team All-Northeast Conference honors. Ranglin attended Saunders Trades and Technical (N.Y.) High School, where he earned all-league and all-county honors as a senior playing on both offense and defense.
Game Preview: Rush vs. Utah Blaze
The Rush travel to Salt Lake City this weekend to take on the Utah Blaze in the AFL's Game of the Week featured on the CBS Sports Network. After an uncharacteristic 0-2 start for the Rush, they've evened their record at 2-2 by defeating the San Antonio Talons and the Pittsburgh Power in the past two weeks.
After allowing 76 points to the Spokane Shock in week two, it's safe to say that nobody expected the defensive turnaround that the Rush have recently orchestrated. The defense held the Pittsburgh Power to just fourteen points this past Sunday afternoon. The zero points that they allowed in the first half was a franchise record, and it was the first time all season that the Rush comfortably held a lead the duration of the game. This comes after knocking off the San Antonio Talons in week three; it was the first victory for the Rush over the Talons since they moved out of Tulsa in 2011.
Allowing 63 and 76 points in losses to the Iowa Barnstormers and Spokane Shock certainly wasn't what anybody envisioned to open the 2013 season. However, the average of 69.5 points allowed for the two first games dropped dramatically to 27.5 for the last two weeks, and to 48.5 overall on the season. Instead of starting the reassignment carousel, the Rush have stood by their defensive front, and they've responded. "It's fun to see these guys perform out there," Coach McMillen stated after practice Wednesday. "We brought every single one of them in for a reason, and that's to make plays. They're starting to gel out there, and that's a dangerous thing for offenses around the league."
With the Power electing to defer to open the game this past weekend, all eyes were on the Rush offense to come out and set the tone for the game. They did, but it was quarterback Danny Southwick leading the pace for the Rush in the first half instead of the familiar Carson Coffman. With Coffman still feeling the after-effects of a dislocated finger on his throwing hand thanks to the Talons defensive line, the choice was made to go with Southwick, who has played with both the San Jose SaberCats and Tampa Bay Storm. Southwick went 17 of 26 with two touchdowns and no turnovers until being knocked out shortly before halftime with concussion symptoms. Always one to answer the call, Coffman took his spot under center, and led the Rush on five scoring drives to put the Power out of commission. He finished seven of ten with two touchdowns.
Coffman will be returning to a familiar place; he backed up Tommy Grady and his MVP campaign in 2012. Since his high-water mark last season, Grady has shown some off-season rust, throwing for eight interceptions early on. While five of those came in just one game against Arizona, it's still unchartered territory for the Oklahoma product. While the numbers are skewed due to Utah having an early bye week, Coffman is officially posting better numbers across the board than Grady so far this season. This matchup will be a good indication if that story will remain the same.
While the Grady vs. Coffman matchup is intriguing, it all hinges upon the defensive performances. The Rush have obviously made strides, but Utah has been going in the opposite direction on that side of the ball. After opening their season by allowing only 33 points to the Power, they've allowed a whopping 77 points in each of their past two games.
The Rush are out to avenge their worst loss in franchise history last season. In early June, they suffered a 68-28 defeat at the hands of to-be MVP Grady and the Blaze. The cold offensive start by the Rush combined with Grady's hot arm made it 28-0 in favor of Utah just eighteen minutes into the contest. The loss brought the Rush road record to 1-5, a mark which set the tone for the season.
This game will be Chicago's first nationally televised game since 2011. While the Rush will not have a home game on the CBS Sports Network this season, they will be featured in one more game on the road May 25th, as they take on the New Orleans VooDoo in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Champions Professional Indoor Football League
Hubbard, Martin Share Title for CPIFL Special Teams Player of the Week
For the second consecutive week a player from the Omaha Beef had an outstanding offensive performance and for the first time a Player of the Week award is shared as two special teams players had outstanding gaes in Week 6 action.
Offensive Player of the Week: RJ Rollins, Omaha Beef
Rollins follows teammate Judd Harrold who was recognized for his offensive performance last week. In the Beef's 55-49 nail-biting victory over Lincoln, Rollins tallied 56 yards on 10 carries. He scored three touchdowns on the ground. Rollins also caught three passes for 23 yards and another score. This week the undefeated Beef travel to Wichita to take on the Wild in a matchup of two of the league’s top teams.
Defensive Player of the Week: Teon Wilson, Kansas City Renegades
Wilson and the Renegades defense held Kansas to only 28 points in the Renegades third consecutive victory. Wilson recorded five tackles with three sacks in the win. One of the sacks recorded a safety for Kansas City. Wilson also forced and recovered a fumble. Kansas City will look for their fourth victory in a row as they travel to Sedalia, Mo to take on Mid-Missouri.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Max Martin, Sioux City Bandits and Tywon Hubbard, Wichita Wild
Both Martin and Hubbard put together performances worthy of the Player of the Week award. Martin made 4-of-5 field goals including field goals of 41 and 36 yards. All four field goals were over 30 yards and each one proved important as the Bandits defeated Salina 46-43. Martin was also 4-of-4 on extra points in the ball gae.
Hubbard returned six kicks for 198 yards and a touchdown for the Wild in their 49-35 victory over the Bloomington Edge. Hubbard leads the league average 26.8 yards per kick return. His 56 yard touchdown return vs. the Edge tied the league record for longest return.
Week 7 of the CPIFL season begins on Friday night with Salina travelling to Lincoln. On Saturday, Wichita hosts Omaha, Bloomington travels to Oklahoma to take on the Defenders and Kansas City visits Mid-Missouri. Kansas and Sioux City are on bye.
Jake Lattimer Joins Bombers
The Salina Bombers are pleased to announce the acquisition of 6'3", 250 lb defensive end Jake Lattimer. Lattimer comes to the Bombers with major Junior College and Division I college football experience.
Jake Lattimer hails from Fort Scott, Kansas where he played high school football for the Tigers. Lattimer earned All-State linebacker as a junior and senior and was named first-team all-conference running back as junior and senior.
From Fort Scott, Lattimer went to Hutchinson Community College. Lattimer was granted a redshirt his freshman year in 2007 after suffering an injury. In 2008, Lattimer would lead the Blue Dragons in tackles with 98, 26 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
After the 2008 season Lattimer would venture to Ames, to play for Iowa State, with three years of eligibility remaining. Lattimer would play in five games for the Cyclones in 2009 as he adjusted to the defensive system and also moving from linebacker to defensive end.
In the 2010 season, Lattimer would start to excel towards the end of the season and earned a starting spot in the final five games for the Cyclones. Lattimer earn Big XII Defensive Player of the Week for his play versus the Texas Longhorns where he had 7 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 tackles for loss and a forced fumble in a Cyclone win.
In 2011 Lattimer earned Iowa State's Arthur Floyd Scott Award winner as Iowa State's most outstanding defensive lineman. He was also named honorable mention All-Big 12 by the league's coaches, started all 13 games and finished his career playing in 30 games, making 18 starts. Lattimer led Iowa State defensive linemen with 43 tackles and six tackles for loss, finished second on the squad with three sacks and also recorded four pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
Renegade Wins League Honors for 3rd Straight Week
Linebacker Teon Wilson Named CPIFL Defensive Player of the Week:
Another Renegade win, another player recognized by the CPIFL. Linebacker Teon Wilson was named CPIFL Defensive Player of the Week Tuesday for his standout performance in KC's 56-28 win over the Kansas Koyotes.
From the CPIFL:
"Wilson and the Renegades defense held Kansas to only 28 points in the Renegades third consecutive victory. Wilson recorded five tackles with three sacks in the win. One of the sacks recorded a safety for Kansas City. Wilson also forced and recovered a fumble. Kansas City will look for their fourth victory in a row as they travel to Sedalia, Mo to take on Mid-Missouri."
Teon's award marks the third straight game a Renegade has won league honors as player of the week. Previously, Clinton Solomon won Offensive Player of the Week for his four touchdown game against the Oklahoma Defenders, and OJ Simpson won Special Teams Player of the Week last week for his two kick return TD's.
KC (3-2) looks to remain hot this Saturday against the Mid-Missouri Outlaws (0-5).
Indoor Football League
Colorado Ice Reclaim Top Spot
After a week removed, the Colorado Ice reclaim the top spot in the IFL Coaches Poll.
In a matchup of the previous week's #1 and #2 teams, the Ice defeated the Nebraska Danger 32-12. A stark contrast from the two team's first contest in Week 4, a 73-50 win for the Danger, the Ice defense controlled the pace of the game. Colorado (5-1) limited Nebraska to 136 yards of offense, holding QB Jameel Sewell to just 10 completions on 28 pass attempts. Anchoring the Ice defense was LB Greg Jackson, who, for his performance, earned Defensive Player of the Week. The Ice face another difficult opponent this weekend when they travel to Sioux Falls to take on the Storm. The Ice edged the Storm 37-33 at home in Week 6.
The Chicago Slaughter (5-2) are the hottest team in the IFL. After a 0-2 start, the team has rattled off 5 wins in a row. The Slaughter jump up one spot to #2 following a 33-20 victory over the Wyoming Cavalry. QB Cody Kirby is quietly having an outstanding season for the Slaughter. Kirby currently leads the league in QB rating (106.9) and completion percentage (59%) [Minimum of 50 pass attempts]. Additionally, he is tied for 4th in passing touchdowns (16), 10th in rushing yards (173), and tied for 4th in rushing touchdowns (6). Chicago will rely on Kirby and their stingy defense this weekend when they travel to take on the Cedar Rapids Titans. The Slaughter will have revenge on their mind as the Titans are the only team to beat the Slaughter this season.
The Danger (4-2) fall two spots to #3 this week. In their 4 wins this season, the Danger offense is averaging 54.5 points per game. In 2 losses, the team is producing only 21.5 points. Despite the loss to Colorado, the Danger remain solidly in 2nd place of the Intense Conference standings, 3 games up on the Fever and Cavalry. Nebraska finds themselves on the road again this week, traveling to take on the Texas Revolution.
The Sioux Falls Storm (4-2) remain in the #4 spot of this week's poll. The Storm returned home from Tri-Cities with a 56-43 win over the Fever. While the Storm offense gradually finds their groove, their defense has been the most consistent unit in the IFL this season. The team allows a league low 31.2 points per game, with the Fever's 43 points marking the highest total given up in a game thus far in 2013. Kicker Parker Douglass has established himself as a force in the IFL as well. Douglass has converted 15 of 21 field goal attempts (71%). His conversion percentage is 23% higher than any other kicker in the IFL. Next up for the Storm is a rematch with the #1 ranked Colorado Ice.
Making their first appearance in the Top 5 is the Texas Revolution. The Revolution evened their record to 3-3 with an 82-72 victory over the Cedar Rapids Titans. The 82 points scored is the highest single game output by any team in 2013. Following a 0-2 start, the Revs have pushed their way into the United Conference playoff race, winning 3 of their last 4. The duo of QB Marcus Jackson and DB/KR Frankie Solomon Jr. have proven to be the Revs playmaking one-two punch with both players earning Player of the Week awards in 2 of the last 3 weeks. Another difficult matchup is on the horizon for Texas as the Nebraska Danger come to town on Saturday night.
Spots 6-9 this week belong to the Cedar Rapids Titans, Tri-Cities Fever, Wyoming Cavalry, and Green Bay Blizzard. The Titans (4-3) have fallen from #1 to #6 after 3 straight losses. After a hot start, the Titans find themselves looking for answers in the highly competitive United Conference. They host the Chicago Slaughter in the 3rd of 4 matchups between the teams this week. Despite a loss to the Storm, the Fever (1-5) move up one spot to #7 this week. New starting QB Dante Warren provided a spark for the Fever offense, throwing for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushing for 123 yards and 4 scores. The Fever travel to Green Bay this weekend. For the first time in 2013, the Cavalry move out of the #9 spot despite a 33-20 loss to the Chicago. Idle in Week 9, the Green Bay Blizzard fall to #9 in this week's Coaches Poll. During the bye the Blizzard made a head coaching change. With a 1-5 start, the Blizzard replaced Robert Fuller with Defensive Coordinator Chad Baldwin. In hopes to jump start a sputtering offense, Baldwin was quick to bring in John Pate as Offensive Coordinator.
All four scheduled games in Week 10 take place on Saturday April 20th.
Green Bay Blizzard vs Tri-Cities Fever Game Preview
The Green Bay Blizzard (1-5) are at home this week and will be facing the Tri-Cities Fever (1-5) for the first time since 2007 at the Resch Center Saturday at 7:00 p.m. This is the second meeting between these two teams. Last time they met was in 2007 where the Blizzard won 29-18 at home.
Saturday's game will be Ahman Green Bobblehead Night, sponsored by WFRV 5 and the Eyecare Place.The first 1,500 youth will receive a free Ahman Green Bobblehead.
The Blizzard have seen massive changes since the team's 48-29 defeat at Sioux Falls two weeks ago. Head Coach Robert Fuller was dismissed, following the loss, and Defensive Coordinator Chad Baldwin was promoted to the position of Head Coach. In 2012, Baldwin's defensive unit finished in the top two in points allowed (41.9) and yards allowed (206.6)
In his first coaching hire Baldwin added John Pate as Offensive Coordinator. Pate, a former coach at Georgia Southern, is the only coach to win five Div. 1-AA national championships.
The new coaching staff will look to get their first victory against a struggling Tri-Cities team. Despite advancing the United Bowl in each of the past two seasons, the Fever have limped out of the gate in 2013. The Fever have lost four games in a row and lost last week to the Sioux Falls Storm 56-43 in a rematch of last season's United Bowl.
Offensively, the Fever are headed by QB Dante Warren. Warren ran for 123 yards and four touchdowns in his first professional start last week. The Fever's leading receiver is Steven Whitehead. Whitehead was a Second Team All-IFL selection last season and currently leads the Fever with 311 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Defensively the team is led by DB Lionell Singleton. Singleton, a 2012 First Team All-IFL Selection,leads the team in tackles (47) and interceptions (4).Tri-Cities is coached by Adam Shackleford.
Under Coach Baldwin and Coach Pate the Blizzard are looking to turn around an offense that ranks next to last in the IFL averaging 31 points per game. B.J Hill will be starting at wide receiver this week instead of his usual defensive back location. Hill led the team with 87 receiving yards and three touchdowns. WR Ryan Balentine is tied for third in the IFL with 32 receptions.
Defensively, the Blizzard are led by DB Elijah Fields who leads the team in tackles with 44.
Professional Indoor Football League
Lions Return To Jungle
It's been a long wait, but come this Saturday the wait is no more as the Columbus Lions (2-2) of the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) return home to "The Jungle" to host the Richmond Raiders (3-1) on "Cancer Awareness Night."
Since the Lions last home game, seasons have practically changed which this time of year for Georgia residents means keeping up with the pollen count. It has been 41 days since they last hosted a home-game, Columbus defeated Knoxville 58-28 in the season's opening weekend, but Lions fans can now adjust to it being "Jungle Season" with the team back in their temperate home climate of the Columbus Civic Center for the next two weeks beginning this Saturday when they host arguably the hottest team in the PIFL and winners of three straight, the Richmond Raiders.
"They return majority of the same team that got them to the PIFL Championship game last season," says Columbus Lions Head Coach Jason Gibson. "They're a fundamental team that is well-coached and they have assets that force you to play a different type of indoor game."
Those assets consist of once again having one of the league's top offensive rushing attacks. What bodes well for Columbus is that their previous opponent, Louisiana, could prove to be a huge boost for the defense. Much like the Swashbucklers, the Raiders like to get their fullback involved in the running game with Mike Jones currently leading the PIFL in both rushing yards (40 yards/game) and touchdowns (9).
"It's a wrinkle that you have to account for when game planning against a team like Richmond," continues Gibson. "But in the end it's still a passing game and you still have to account for that too, darn if you do darn if don't kind of ordeal."
Richmond also once again boasts one of the top defenses having allowed just 24 touchdowns, second lowest through four gaes. Last weekend, DL Brandon Sutton notched 3.5 sacks and a blocked field in the Raiders 62-51 victory over Lehigh Valley earning him the Week 6 Defensive Player of the Week.
Columbus arrives having escaped Lake Charles with a victory by the skin of their teeth. Down by 14 late in the 3rd quarter, the Lions started one of their largest road comebacks in team history scoring 24 of the game's final 31 points to defeat the Swashbucklers 45-42. Young quarterback Marcus Jones helped eradicate three early interceptions by completing 7 of his last 11 pass attempts scoring a total of six touchdowns.
"Win's on the road in this league are hard to come by," says Gibson. "I think like only ten teams won road games last season, so I will take it and make sure the team works even harder this week because we we're really lucky to come out on top against Louisiana."
Like any football team this time of year, the club comes in a bit banged up. Both fullback Gerald Harris and linebacker Ryan Babb could miss Saturday's contest while another select few have some healable but nagging injuries.
Week 6 PIFL Offensive Player of the Week Maurice Dupree, who grabbed 15 receptions for 230 yards and four touchdowns in last Saturday's win, is dealing with a sore hand while defensive back Anthony Shutt has played the last two games with a cast on his hand.
"Injuries are a part of the game," once again says Gibson. "You either play through them or you have to sit it out and let someone else step up."
Kickoff is at 7:30 PM, but be sure to get their early to enter your name into the raffle of the commemorative team autographed pink helmet to be given out during the middle of the 3rd quarter.
Louisiana Swashbucklers to Meet Knoxville Nighthawks
The Louisiana Swashbucklers are in a must-win mode as the Knoxville Nighthawks come to the Smuggler's Den at the Lake Charles Civic Center on Saturday, April 20th. Louisiana is 0-3 due to a field goal kicked by the Columbus Lions with two minutes remaining on the clock. The final was 45-42. This will be the first of three meetings between the two teams on the 2013 schedule.
Knoxville is returning to action after having a bye week. In their last game, the Nighthawks (1-4) defeated the Albany Panthers, who are the defending Professional Indoor Football League champions. Despite the score from last Saturday's contest, the Bucs played its most complete game of the season thus far and is showing improvement on the field.
For example, the Bucs were penalized only once for 10 yards. On net yards passing, Louisiana is average 14.4 per completion. The offense should see Chris Mitchell back under center. Though shaken up towards the end of last week's game, he had returned to the field prior to time running out. Against Columbus, Mitchell was 12 out of 20 with only one interception. His total offensive yards were 180 and a touchdown. Running back Kendrick Perry had an improved performance on the field. He had 10 carries for 43 yards and no loss of yardage.
The passing game has been one of the most potent weapons in the Swashbucklers' offense. Mitchell will be looking to get the ball downfield on deep scoring threats to wide receivers Cortland Bell, Jordan Rideaux, Sammy Knight and Will Pritchett. Rideaux had five receptions for 47 yards while Bell had a total of 74 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The Bucs' defensive secondary is going to be challenged by Knoxville quarterback Randy Hippeard. Against Albany, Hippeard was 14 out of 27 for 193 yards and one touchdown. Hippeard's receivers are DeAndre Brown and Ryan Schuck. Brown had five catches for 48 yards against the Panthers and Schuck was five for 85 yards and one score. The Nighthawks, for their running game, rely on Daccus Turman. In Knoxville's last game Turman had 13 rushes for 30 yards and one touchdown.