By RJ Ciancio
With Champions Indoor Football (CIF) is entering its fifth season of league play, Arena Football Talk (AFT) will give a brief rundown of the CIF's short but rich history as they head into the 2019 season.
The CIF was announced on August 22, 2014 as the Lone Star Football League (LSFL) merged with the Champions Professional Indoor Football League (CPIFL). The 2015 season was played with nine teams with the top four making the playoffs. In the league semifinals the number three Wichita Force fell to the Texas Revolution. The other semifinal game was played between the number one seed Sioux City Bandits and number four seed Amarillo Venom. The Venom would get demolished 83-52. Champions Bowl I took place in front of a crowd of 3,757 fans as the hometown Bandits won the championship 76-61 defeating the Texas Revolution.
Prior to the 2016 campaign the Salina Bombers folded as the Salina Liberty, Bloomington Edge, Chicago Eagles and Mesquite Marshals find the league. The CIF realigned itself with two divisions of six teams.The top three teams in each division would make the playoffs. In round one of the playoffs Bloomington defeated the defending champion Bandits 65-45. In the other round one game the Dodge City Law were beaten by the Amarillo Venom 98-56. In the Division Championships the Bloomington Edge we defeated by the Wichita Force 52-51. In the other Division Championship the Amarillo Venom defeated the Texas Revolution 57-53. However, the Venom would fall to the Force 48-45 in Champions Bowl II.
Many changes were made to the CIF prior to the start of the season as the Chicago Eagles, and San Angelo Bandits folded. The Mesquite Marshals rebranded themselves as the Dallas Marshals and the Bismarck Bucks, CenTex Cavalry, Kansas City Phantoms, River City Raiders (who never ended up playing in the CIF) and West Michigan Ironmen all joined the league, giving the CIF 14 teams. The league retained the same playoff format and added one team to each conference to keep the numbers equal. However, the 2017 season may best be remembered for the controversy surrounding the Dodge City Law as the team violated league guidelines and were stripped of two victories bumping them from the number one to number three seed in the South Conference. The Texas Revolution defeated the Omaha Beef 59-49 in Champions Bowl III.
The 2018 season got off to a rocky start as the Bloomington Edge and West Michigan Ironmen tried moving to the Indoor Football League (IFL) and the Sioux falls Storm and Wichita Falls Nighthawks tried moving to the CIF. By the end of the mess the Nighthawks had folded, the Storm went back to the IFL and both the Edge and Ironmen were suspended from league play for one season. Amongst the offseason debacle the Dodge City Law also folded and the Quad City Steamwheelers (not to be confused with the Arena Football 2 team with the same name) were an expansion team. With ten teams the league kept the same two conference format and still had the top three teams from each conference make the playoffs. Partway through the season the Dallas Marshals folded throwing another wrench in the CIF machine. At the end of the season the Duke City Gladiators defeated the Sioux City Bandits 31-27 in Champions Bowl IV.
As of the writing of this article the CIF lost the Bismarck Bucks and Quad City Steamwheelers jumped to the IFL, the Kansas City Phantoms folded, the West Michigan Ironmen (who were supposed to play in the CIF after their one year suspension) were not included in the league schedule and Oklahoma was given an expansion team in the Flying Aces. With so much having happened in the CIF’s short history the league looks to go down as one with some of the most interesting lore in indoor/arena football history as they continue to field one of the top leagues in the nation.