Arena Football League
Talons to Honor First Responders Monday, June 3
On Mon., June 3 at 7:30 p.m. The San Antonio Talons (4-5) will be hosting a First Responder Appreciation Game at the Alamodome. For the game against the Utah Blaze (4-5), all San Antonio first responders who show their badge will receive free admission. In addition, their families who accompany them will receive 50 percent off admission. Monday's game is presented by: Red McCombs Toyota.
Orlando Predators Win Saturday Night Sports Network Showdown
The Orlando Predators scored a big victory in last weekend's sports television ratings. The team squared off against their archrival, the Jacksonville Sharks on WKMG/Local 6; Central Florida's local CBS affiliate.
The team posted impressive numbers despite tough competition from other networks that were featuring two other sports. NBC was televising a playoff game between two of their most popular teams; the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings, and Fox was airing a MLB game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. The household rating (number of houses watching in the Central Florida market) for the game was 39% higher than the NHL playoff game and 117% higher than the MLB game.
To put this into context, the two game household average on WKMG has been 21% higher than the NBA's Orlando Magic's 2012-2013 regular season average and 79% higher than the MLB's Tampa Bay Rays 2013 regular season average.
Because of the strong viewer response, WKMG/Local 6 has added a third game to the schedule for the June 22nd game against Pittsburgh.
Blaze vs Talons - Game Preview
The Utah Blaze (4-5) will battle the San Antonio Talons (4-5) at the Alamodome on Monday, June 3rd in a rematch of the opening round of the 2012 playoffs. The game can be heard live in the Salt Lake area exclusively on 97.5 FM The Zone with Scott Garrard providing play-by-play coverage.
Utah is coming off a tough 35-34 loss to the San Jose SaberCats while San Antonio dropped a 61-48 decision to the Spokane Shock in Week 10. The last time the two teams faced off in Texas, the Blaze advanced to the National Conference Championship after emerging with a 35-34 victory in a historic moment for the franchise. A season later, Utah and San Antonio - both of whom sit a game below .500 - continue to lobby for position in the race to the postseason.
Points will be hard to come by this week as two of the Arena Football League's top defenses square off in what figures to be a low-scoring affair. Utah has surrendered just over 44 points per game in its last five outings and currently ranks second in the AFL in both total defense (248.7 ypg) and passing defense (229.1 ypg). San Antonio has also made its mark on defense and has surrendered 47 points and 254.2 yards in total offense per game.
The strength of the Talons lies in its defensive line, where the franchise employs three All-Arena performers and ranks third in the AFL with 21 sacks as a team. Leading the way is 2012 AFL Defensive Player of the Year Joe Sykes, who set an all-time Arena Football record with 16 sacks last season. Opposite Sykes is Victor DeGrate, who was a first-team All-Arena selection for the Talons in 2012 after leading the team with 9.5 sacks. Along the interior is seven-year AFL veteran and three-time All-Arena honoree Tim McGill.
Despite the challenge this week, Utah's protection has been nothing short of brilliant through the first half of the season. The unit has allowed the third-lowest sack total in the AFL with just nine sacks on the year. The group comprised of Antonio Narcisse, Neal Tivis, Shannon Tevaga, and Jermarcus Hardrick - as well as hardnosed fullback Ben Stallings - has routinely stalemated opposing defenses. The battle in the trenches is one of the most intriguing aspects of the game and figures to be an extremely physical matchup.
The Blaze defense will look to take advantage of an ailing San Antonio offense, as injuries have prevented the Talons from developing consistency under center. In fact, five different quarterbacks have taken snaps for San Antonio this season, including Xavier Lee. Lee was in the mix at wide receiver, but finished as a quarterback last week against Spokane after an injury knocked out starter Nick Hill.
San Antonio's passing offense has managed just 224.9 aerial yards per game, placing them at the bottom of the AFL. The offense has particularly struggled inside the red zone where they have scored on only 61 percent of their possessions, also ranking last. From a scoring standpoint, the Talons have put an average of 43.6 points on the board per game, placing 12th in the Arena Football League.
Utah's defense has caught fire in recent contests, logging 24 turnovers over its last five games. The Blaze have routinely denied opponents on fourth down, allowing just six total conversions over the course of the season (lowest in the AFL).
In the secondary, Maurice Leggett added another interception to his resume against the SaberCats and now has five on the season, tying as the most in franchise history. David Hyland has notched 15 pass breakups - most in the AFL - while adding four interceptions to place third in the League with 19 total passes defended.
As the second half of the season gets underway, the margin for error continues to shrink. With each team coming off a loss, the matchup between Utah and San Antonio will feature intense competition as the both look to build momentum heading towards the postseason.
Barnstormers Bulk up O-Line
Iowa Barnstormers Head Coach and Director of Football Operations Mike Hohensee announced Thursday afternoon that the AFL franchise has been assigned OL James Economou. In addition, the team also completed a trade, picking up OL Anthony Parker from the Arizona Rattlers for future considerations.
Economou (6-4, 330) re-joins the Barnstormers for a second season. The 3 year veteran of Arena Football spent time last season with Iowa, joining the team at mid-season. He began his career with the Milwaukee Mustangs in 2010, before signing with the Cleveland Gladiators for the 2011 season. The Selden, NY native played college football at Connecticut State from 2006-09 where he was a 3 time All-American.
Parker (6-4, 330) comes to Iowa after spending the first 10 games this season with the Arizona Rattlers. This is Parker's second season in Arena Football, as he spent the 2012 season with the Milwaukee Mustangs. Parker was a star at Western Michigan University from 2008-12, where he recorded 48 starts over 4 seasons. During his senior season in 2011, he started all 13 games and took 975 offensive snaps.
Both players should have an immediate impact with the Barnstormers and both should be in the lineup this Saturday night.
To make room for these additions OL Jack Breckner has been placed on re-assignment, while OL Alex Linninkohl has returned home to Washington and has been placed on team suspension.
Iowa returns home this Saturday, June 1 when the Tampa Bay Storm come to town.
Storm Bolsters Defense
The Tampa Bay Storm is pleased to announce the acquisitions of defensive lineman Claude Davis and defensive back Jerrell Gavins.
"We are happy to add Claude and Jerrell to our defensive unit," said Storm vice president of football operations Jeff Gooch. "They bring experience with them which should benefit the team as a whole."
Davis (6-foot-2, 257 lbs., South Florida) enters his first season in the AFL and played two seasons at USF. The Lakeland, FL (Lake Gibson H.S.) native played in 24 games for the Bulls finishing his USF career with 17 tackles and 7 tackles for a loss, including six sacks. Davis also forced two fumbles and had a fumble recovery. He spent time at East Mississippi Community College before settling in at USF.
The former Bull began his professional career having spent time with the New York Jets (NFL) as an undrafted free agent.
Gavins (5-foot-8, 171 lbs., Boise State) played four seasons with the Broncos, starting 16-of-41 games. He finished his collegiate career with 103 tackles including four tackles for a loss, seven interceptions and 14 pass breakups. He also had seven kick returns for a total of 192 yards.
Defensive back Rashad Barksdale has been activated from injured reserve. Prior to being placed on IR, he tallied 25.5 tackles, an interception, five pass breakups and returned a fumble for 12 yards and a touchdown.
Wide receiver Greg Ellingson has been placed on other league exempt.
Defensive back Vance Cuff has been placed on inactive reserve.
Offensive lineman Abdul Kuyateh has been reassigned.
VooDoo Aquire QB Chris Dixon and DB Cameron McGlenn
The Arena Football League has assigned quarter back Chris Dixon and defensive back Cameron McGlenn to the New Orleans VooDoo, announced the VooDoo front office Friday, May 31.
Dixon, (5-11, 210, Humboldt) former quarter back of the Sioux Falls Storm, is a three-time Indoor Football League most valuable player. While with the Storm, Dixon led the team to titles in both of his seasons with them. He also won consecutive titles with the Billings Outlaws before the folding of the Billings franchise. Dixon became the first indoor football player to ever throw for 500 career touchdowns.
In 2012, Dixon was assigned to the Orlando Predators where he completed 26 of 34 passes for 318 yards and 5 touchdowns.
McGlenn (6-0, 190, Elon) led the AFL with 125.5 tackles as a member of the Iowa Barnstormers in 2012. In 2011, McGlenn collected 89.5 tackles and nine interceptions as a rookie with the Barnstormers. During his collegiate experience McGlenn was named Second-Team All-Southern Conference as a senior at Elon, finishing the year with 59 tackles and three interceptions.
Former Storm Personnel Among Newly Named Arena Football Hall of Fame Advisory Board
The Arena Football League announced eight members of the 2013 Hall of Fame Advisory Board today.
The Advisory Board will select ten candidates for the Arena Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013, based on AFL excellence in the categories of players, coaches, and contributors.
The Advisory Board includes: ED BARKOWITZ, a veteran Philadelphia Daily News reporter; TROY CLARDY, a longtime play-by-play announcer and AFL broadcaster for the San Jose SaberCats and Pittsburgh Power; play-by-play voice of the Chicago Rush, LES GROBSTEIN; WILLIAM NIRO, a founding father of the Arena Football League; RICHARD OBERT, Arizona Republic reporter; RICHARD OLIVER, a senior writer for the San Antonio Express-News; JIM ROBINSON, a longtime media liaison for the Tampa Bay Storm; and ARI WOLFE, who currently serves as a play-by-play announcer and sideline analyst for "NET10 Wireless Arena Football Saturday" on CBS Sports Network.
Barkowitz has been covering the Soul and the AFL for the Philadelphia Daily News since the team's launch in 2004. He has also worked as a general assignment sports writer for the Daily News since 1993, covering the World Series, Stanley Cup and NBA Finals.
Clardy has 13 years of experience covering the AFL, most recently as a television and radio play-by-play announcer for the Pittsburgh Power. Clardy also worked San Jose SaberCats radio broadcasts for ten seasons and hosted ESPN.com's "Inside the AFL" for three seasons.
Grobstein, a Chicago sports radio veteran of more than three decades, has spent years as the play-by-play announcer for the Chicago Rush. He has covered the Arena Football League since its inception in 1987.
Niro, a Chicago attorney, is an original founder of the AFL and partner at Gridiron Enterprises, a sports consulting company based in Chicago, IL.
Obert has worked at the Arizona Republic since 1982 and has covered the Arizona Rattlers since their inception in 1992. He was on-hand for two Rattlers' ArenaBowl victories. He also covered the University of Arizona men's basketball program from 1992-1995 and again during the 2000-2001 season, as well as the Arizona State University men's basketball program during the 1999-2000 season.
Oliver has been a senior writer at the San Antonio-Express News since 2003 and has covered the San Antonio Talons since their arrival in Texas in 2012. Oliver has also spent the last six years as a pregame and postgame analyst for the San Antonio Spurs on Fox Sports Net.
Robinson handled media relations for the Tampa Bay Storm from 2006-2012. He also served on the Communications Team for ArenaBowl XXII.
Wolfe worked as the TV and Radio play-by-play announcer for the Albany/Indiana Firebirds from 1998-2003 and the Philadelphia Soul from 2004-2008. He now serves as a play-by-play announcer and sideline analyst for AFL on CBS Sports Network and has worked in some capacity at every ArenaBowl since 2002. During the 2008 season, he had his own column on ArenaFootball.com entitled, "Wolfe's Den".
The Advisory Board will select ten candidates for Hall of Fame nomination on Wednesday, June 19 and the nominees will be announced Saturday, June 22 on CBS Sports Network. Fans and current Hall of Fame members will then vote on the selected candidates beginning on Monday, June 24. Votes will then be turned in to the Hall of Fame Operating Board of Directors.
In order to be nominated for the 2013 Hall of Fame Class, candidates must meet four criteria. If a player was active before 1989, he must have played for at least two seasons. For players after 1989, a minimum of three seasons of service are required. All players must be retired for three complete seasons. Coaches must have been active for a minimum of five seasons and need not be retired. There is no minimum number of seasons required for contributors, but significant advancement of the AFL is a prerequisite.
The 2013 Hall of Fame Class will be announced during the 2013 Conference Championship weekend and inductions will be held during the 2014 Arena Football League season.
Indoor Football League
Slaughter Announce Fan Appreciation Night
Hey football fans, are you looking for some hard hitting, high scoring action closer to home? As the Chicago Slaughter regular season winds down rival Green Bay will come to town. The Chicago Slaughter, a member of the Indoor Football League (IFL), will face the Blizzard at the Sears Centre Arena as they look to win their sixth home game in a row on Fan Appreciation Night, Friday May 31 at 7:35 PM.
As part of Fan Appreciation Night, the Slaughter will honor any Chicago Rush ticket stub (used or unused) for a half priced ticket to the regular season finale on Friday. Bring your Rush football tickets to the box office and receive half off select tickets for Friday's home game. Tickets can be exchanged at the Slaughter office (1055 W. Golf Road, Hoffman Estates) Thursday, 9 AM-5 PM. Tickets can also be exchanged at the Sears Centre Box Office from 10 AM - 5:30 PM, Thursday and beginning at 10 AM Friday. The Sears Centre is located at 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates.
We'll celebrate you, the fans for our Fan Appreciation Night. Arrive early and enter into the raffles for hotel stays, museum tickets, spa treatments, and more! Random seats, rows, and sections will also win prizes throughout the game! Over $25,000 worth of prizes will be given away to the fans! Other Fan Appreciation events include merchandise discounts, a Dixieland band, Sinful Saints, performing live on the concourse near the Fun Zone, and the Northern Illinois Fire Museum's vintage vehicles from the Great Chicago Fire.
The Slaughter will hold silent and live auctions for limited edition, game worn St. Patrick's Day jerseys. Silent Auction at Customer Service - #10 Delric Ellington, #76 Sarge Post-game Live Auction on the field - #3 Daniel Dufrene, #7 Juice Williams, #76 Steve McMichael
Players from the NFL Players Alumni Chicago Chapter are scheduled to be in attendance and signing autographs for fans. The players will sign autographs prior to the game and during halftime on the concourse. Scheduled players include Rashied Davis (Bears), Ahmad Merritt (Bears), Brian Glasgow (Bears), Bruce Herron (Bears), Dan Morjal (Bears), Marques Sullivan (Bills), David Porter (Bills), Les Shy (Cowboys), Marc May (Vikings), Tim Tyrrell (Falcons), Jermaine Hampton (Colts), Ryan Yarborough (Jets), Ray McElroy (Bears), Levar Fisher (Cardinals), and Corey Mays (Chiefs).
Colorado Ice Sign Head Coach Heron O'Neal to Contract Extension
The Colorado Ice organization and Head Coach Heron O'Neal are proud to announce that they have come to an agreement that will extend Coach O'Neal's contract through the 2017 Season.
This shows that the Colorado Ice will remain in Northern Colorado and continue to provide professional football players the opportunity to advance to the CFL and NFL. During the 2013 season, 14 Colorado Ice players have moved up the ladder, including Ice defensive back Lamar "Marty" Markett, who recently signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.
In securing a playoff position for the upcoming 2013 playoffs, Coach O'Neal stated, "I look forward to continuing the on field progress and bringing a Championship to the Ice Fans and the great state of Colorado."
Coach O'Neal's agent, Eric Echols from Xtreme Sports Management, had this to say about the contract extension, "It was very important for Coach O'Neal to continue to be a part of the Colorado Ice Football Organization. Heron made it clear to our staff that he loves both the Colorado Ice and being in Northern Colorado."
Colorado Ice owner Tom Wigley observed, "It was paramount the Ice continue to have one of the premier head coaches in all of professional indoor football at the helm for the next four years. This is yet another major step in the quest to bring an IFL championship home to Northern Colorado. That's the goal and the fans deserve nothing less."
Professional Indoor Football League
Swashbucklers Finish Out Season
The Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) has taken steps to enable a restructured Louisiana Swashbucklers team to complete the remainder of their 2013 season schedule.
Louisiana, who is coming off an double overtime win against the Richmond Raiders, will head to Huntsville, AL this Saturday night to take on the first-place Alabama Hammers (6-2), followed by games at Knoxville, TN (6/7) and at Richmond, VA (6/15).
Head Coach Darnell Lee and star quarterback Chris Mitchell are eager to get back on the field after missing this past weekend's game in Lake Charles due to operational issues. "We are excited, and want to build upon our momentum coming off the Richmond win," stated Lee, "We have our hands full this week with the Hammers, but we are ready, and look forward to the challenge."
The PIFL heads into its final month of the regular season with the majority of the team's still jockeying for final playoff positioning in the four team post-season format.
Lions Playoff Hopes Rest On Thin Ice
A playoff streak of six consecutive years will be on the line when the Columbus Lions (3-6) of the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) host the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (6-4) this Sunday June 2nd at 4:00 PM.
Many names have changed off the back of those blue home jersey's, but no matter how many different faces are protected by the Lions shield the one constant this organization has maintained is it's pride in making the playoffs since the birth of their existence. "Many organizations go years without sniffing the playoffs," says Columbus Lions Head Coach Jason Gibson. "For some teams they view it as being lucky, we take pride in the fact of our consistency." That consistency will be put to the test for the next three weeks as the Lions officially enter do or die mode beginning this Sunday when they play host to arguably the PIFL's hottest team the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, winners of four straight.
In fact ever since these two teams last encountered each other they have gone in separate directions. For Lehigh it was the start of their current streak while Columbus has never been able to recover from the late 4th quarter collapse in which the Hawks snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a 60-51 earlier this month. Two crucial calls including an apparent fumble recovery by the Lions when they were up by ten late in the 4th quarter as well as illegal forward pass on a botched snap on a field goal went against Columbus leading to their demise.
Since then it's been a house full of cards type ordeal as one piece continues to pull the house down each week. Two weeks after the Lehigh loss they lost to the first-place Hammers by turning over the ball four times and then just one week ago Columbus lost 48-42 in overtime to the Richmond Raiders after failing to come thru on a 16-yard game-winning field at the end of regulation.
Come Sunday the Lions will know what it will take to continue their streak of six consecutive playoff appearances having already known what in-state rival Albany and Louisiana did the following night. Victories by either team coupled with a fifth straight Columbus loss and they can kiss that dream of extending the streak goodbye. A potential victory on Sunday sets up a winner-take-all battle for the final spot of the impending playoffs between themselves and Albany with two matchups to settle it all (June 8th and June 22nd). But first things first, clip the hot the Hawks who boast the PIFL's top rated passer in Adam Bednarik. Last time out the Lions appeared to have Bednarik's number intercepting him three times, the first and only time that has happened this season.
Lehigh can hit you from a number of different ways, considering their signal-caller has a bevy of weapons on the outside. WR's Tyrone Collins, Toriel Gibson, and Tom Gilson have hauled in over 50 passes each, only trio in PIFL with that distinction, with Gilson being the high-man at 79.
Columbus comes into Sunday nicked up on both sides of the ball. QB Lee Chapple went down with a concussion late in last week's game vs. Richmond, his status for this week is doubtful, while FB Gerald Harris re-aggravated a rib injury that kept him out for almost an entire month. On defense DB Jeremy Gray may miss Sunday's contest with a groin pull while the already short defensive line may be without DL JamontayPilson who could be out with an ankle sprain. So literally the Lions playoff hopes rest on thin ice as many of their players have been soaking in tubs this week just to heal up and strap on the pads for this Sunday. One thing is for sure the mentality around the locker room is they aren't going down without a fight and anything goes once you enter "The Jungle."Sunday is "Family Night." With tickets as low as $10 along with kids 12 and under in free with the purchase of an adult ticket the game promises to be a Family-Fun Affordable Night. There will also be $1 hotdogs, $1 Coke, and $1 popcorn concession specials and as always the first 150 military personnel get through the gates for free courtesy of the Drop Zone sponsors.