By RJ Ciancio
Head of NAL Coverage
The Quad City Steamwheelers came into Sioux Falls with a two and one record to take on the three wins and no losses.
The Steamwheelers opening drive bounced off an upman going out of bounds at the storm 18. EJ Hilliard was subbed out for Dillon Turner as he ran for quarterback sneak and threw a touchdown pass to Quinton Pedroza. With the extra point Quad City took the seven to zero lead.
The Storm came out behind field general Lorenzo Brown. The Storm were able to find success running with the ball. Damian Ford caught a dime from Lorenzo Brown on first down, sacrificing his body on the play as he crashed into the dasher boards. Miles Bergner missed the extra point letting the Steamwheelers keep a one point lead with a seven, six score.
The Quad City special teams once again worked their magic as they returned a kick down to the Storm nine. EJ Hilliard returned to normal spot under center. Once again it was Pedroza finding the endzone for the Steamwheelers from two yards out. The extra point was missed leaving the score at 13 to six.
Now the pressure returned to Lorenzo Brown as he and the Storm offense took over at their own 18. A fake handoff was blown up in the backfield and Brown was dropped for a loss. This didn’t phase him as a few plays later lightning struck again with a long bomb touchdown pass.
Once again the extra point was missed making the score 13-12.
Quad City was given their worst field position of the game as they started at their own thirteen. EJ Hilliard scampered for nine yards on second down setting up a third and two. Hilliard was mixing the run and pass game like a Gordon Ramsey dish as he could almost do no wrong, even forcing the Storm to commit an illegal contact penalty. A bad snapped help kill the drive as on third and goal was forced to throw the ball away ending the quarter with the score 13-12 Quad City.
Things didn’t start out the Steamwheelers way as a high snap on a field goal as the holder was tackled for a loss. With the turnover on downs the Storm had new life. Lorenzo Brown found Darrian Miller on a swing pass to reset the downs. The same play worked on the opposite side of the field. Showed his running abilities multiple times on the drive en route to a rushing touchdown on fourth and one. With the extra point added to the touchdown the score read 19-13 Storm.
Now the pressure shifted to EJ Hilliard who was willing to take up the challenge of driving down the field and coming back from six points down. This was no challenge as he found Keyvan Rudd for the long touchdown reception. With the extra point the Steamwheelers lead 20-19.
The Storm were able to return the ball out to their own sixteen. Darrian Miller got himself back into the mix as he bolted for an easy first down. Once again Brown rushed for a touchdown. With the extra point added, the Storm lead 26-20.
Quad City’s next drive started at their own two, giving EJ Hilliard little room to extend a play. The drive continued after Rudd broke a deep route and wasn’t count until he hit the Storm eight. Rudd capped off the drive with a pass from Hilliard over the middle. With the point after, the Storm trailed 27-26.
Sioux Falls got the ball at their own six with 1:25 to go in the half. Brown decided to not rush things as he decided to use all the time he needed, opting to include the middle of the field passes on the drive. The Storm worked their way down the field and an over the wall catch by Ford had the crowd going crazy. However much of the enger given to the fans by the catch was taken away by a missed extra point making it 32-27.
Quad City missed a field goal attempt as time expired in the second quarter.
The second half began with Sioux Falls setting up shop at their own 12. Lorenzo Brown helped get the team moving with ease as they quickly invaded Quad City territory. Brown flashed his ability to improvise as he rolled out the pocket of a busted play and ran for an easy gain. That helped set up another rushing touchdown for Brown.With the extra point the Storm heald a 39-29 lead.
The Steamwheelers returned the Storm kick to the Sioux Falls 24. EJ Hilliard began relying on his legs as nobody was getting open early on in the drive. The dive culminated in a Quinton Pedroza touchdown reception from Hilliard. With the extra point bouncing off the left upright, the score read 39-33.
Sioux Falls was given little room to work with as a combination of a bad return and a holding call setup the drive at their own five. The Storm were bailed out by an illegal defense penalty giving them some more breathing room. Brown decided to give his legs even more of a workout as he dove for another first down. Another illegal defense penalty hurt the Steamwheelers as it nullified a massive sack. Lorenzo was thankful for the gift Quad City gave him and he paid it forward by donating to ball to the hands of a waiting receiver for an easy touchdown. With the extra point good the Storm lead 46-33.
Quad City needed something to happen fast. EJ Hilliard got a bit to egar and overshot a wide open receiver, missing a golden opportunity. This didn’t phase the Quad City quarterback as he slung the ball over the middle for a first down. The Steamwheelers seemed to have found a soft spot in the Storm defense. That area would be the middle of the field, as the third quarter ended. EJ Hilliard returned to his favorite target Quinton Pedroza for a short touchdown pass. With the extra point the score read 46-40.
It was time to see what the Quad City defense was made off. Lorenzo Brown was looking to make the Steamwheelers defense look invisible. As they Storm marched inside the Steamwheeler 15 it was crunch time for the defense. However, it was the ambition of the defense that hurt them as a pass interference call gave the Storm first and goal at the two. The Storm capitalized on this mistake with another Brown touchdown run. Ith the point after tacked on the Storm lead 53-40.
With just over 10 minutes left EJ Hilliard was able to draw a pass interference call on a cross-body pass. However, it would take more than that for the Steamwheelers to get back in the game. The Steamwheelers finally found the endzone as Pedroza caught a crucial touchdown pass. With the extra point missed the score read 53-46.
The Steamwheelers went for a surprise onside kick. This backfired and the Storm we set up with first and goal. It only took one play for the Storm to take advantage of the situation as Lorenzo Brown ran for yet another touchdown. With the extra point tacked on the storm lead 60-46.
With just over three minutes left the Steamwheelers needed to score, and fast. However, te Steamwheelers didn’t share the sentiment as they took their time calling plays. Multiple passes for Pedroza fell to the turf bringing up fourth and one. With the game hanging in the balance Hallard was able to find his man in the endzone. For some reason that is baffling to me, Quad City decided to go for two. The play failed and with 38 seconds left they trailed 52-60.
The inevitable onside kick was bounced out of bounds, putting the chances of a comeback in jeopardy. With the ball at the Quad City 16 Brown ran the ball three times bringing up a crucial fourth down and three with 19 seconds to go. That dramatic situation was wiped from the game due to to an illegal defense penalty, giving the Storm a first down. Then a facemask penalty give the Storm even more yardage. Lorenzo Brown ran into the endzone one more time for good measure. With the extra point missed the score read. 66-52 Storm.
With the kickoff sailing out of the endzone the Steamwheelers were given the ball at their own 20. After one uneventful play, the clock hit triple zeros with the Storm winning 66-52.
Man, have I heard a lot of moronic stuff coming from indoor football fans lately. Some are just not knowing how things work, like the video complaint about the end of the Carolina Havoc/Cape Fear Heroes game where the complainer didn't know how electric time clocks work. Or really time in general, given his comments about partial seconds.
There were the elitist complaints against the Burgh Defenders for moving into a local multipurpose arena with more options from a campus arena. The only non-university arena that hosts more than 3,500 fans and currently available for sporting events is the Pittsburgh Penguins' PPG Paints Arena, but dammit if you don't put this expansion AAL team dealing with heartbreak and growing pains there, because those "true indoor fans" will just write you off.
Then there's the fans that are completely adamant that the delay of the National Gridiron League makes total sense and that anyone calling the league a sham is a "hater". Cancelling that many games and dealing with contract minimums with all those venues is not feasible for the NGL. This fan argument is truly sad.
But the one that has exceptionally miffed me have been the complaints about Champions Indoor Football games on Pluto TV. The level of community incompetence about how these games are produced, directed, shared and the impact they have on individual franchises is truly insulting.
Most complaints I've seen about Pluto equate to people not knowing what the platform is and their arguments sound like a person upset about the move from VCR's to DVD's. So to avoid the old-man-yells-at-cloud problems, Pluto is one of the most successful startup entertainment apps of all time.
It is a free service allowing people to get quality movies, television and news in a way similar to channel flipping through a satellite or cable provider. As they've grown consistently from their debut in 2014, they now partner with groups like Fox Sports, NASA, Buzzr, CNET and more. The quality of television and movies have also increased as their budget has grown, an impressive feat since revenue only comes from advertising sales. Pluto continues to be a popular option for cord cutters, especially in the Rocky Mountain and Great Plains areas. The product is so good that it was worth $340 million to Viacom as they announced that they bought Pluto in January.
Yet the CIF is still available on Pluto and their regular season will be broadcasted this weekend. This platform that continues to grow and pick up bigger partners left and right stands with the CIF. Live sports will continue to be a difficulty for Pluto's business model, especially with things like Bleacher Report and Monumental Sports, but this pairing gives the CIF a lot of clout outside of the indoor football circles. That clout can turn into consistent advertising revenue for the league and teams.
What additional production value will be added is yet to be seen as well as any additional programming potential like highlights, halftime and pre/post game shows or whether rebroadcasts will be available after the game is over. Theoretically if a deal could be reached with other indoor leagues for more content, a whole channel devoted to indoor football could be well received on Pluto.
But that relies heavily on what leagues, especially the CIF, are currently doing with their broadcasts. This is where some other complaints come in about how different teams put out their product.
The production value is such a big deal, especially for the CIF with their loss of Bismarck last season. The Bucks have made zero changes in their broadcast production from the CIF to IFL, despite the games now being on YouTube compared to Pluto. While Quad Cities had the best attendance at home, Bismarck had the most professional broadcasts for opposing fans. They did more with replays, graphic packages and in-game promotions all with more reliable audio and visual feeds.
Now this isn't to discredit all arguments about the broadcast quality, but to fully understand the credible issues, the fans must understand where the CIF's broadcasts end and where Pluto's steaming services begin. Some of the quality from the physical cameras and lenses is not high enough for the red turfs by some teams. The fluctuation of upload speed makes it pretty obvious which arenas are not using a dedicated router compared to sharing it with other media and gameday staff or even just using the public WiFi. If the graphics look blurry, then that's usually an image ratio issue that can be fixed.
All of these issues happen before it gets to Pluto, so blaming Pluto isn't going to do anything constructive. What it does accomplish is destroy a positive relationship that helps out CIF franchises a lot, challenges the CIF as a leader in the indoor football world and deters a way to get the sport to new audiences. If your complaining persists, get a smarter argument before you kill off something good in indoor football.
By Marcelo Metzelar, Contributing Writer
This week’s AFT Network’s Play of the Week comes to us courtesy of the Carolina Havoc. Down 54-59 with a second left on the clock and the ball inside the Cape Fear 5-yard line on the left hash mark; Havoc quarterback, Daryll Clark finds receiver, Alex Coleman, in the front left corner of the end zone for the walk off score. Exciting play, but what did Coach Anson Yarborough call and why?
It starts off with the formation. Although terminology may differ from team to team, they started off with a “bunch right formation" that looks like the figure below:
But that’s not all. American Arena League rules allow one offensive player to be in forward motion. This is not allowed in the 11-man outdoor game and is unique to this version of the sport. Getting the inside most receiver (the y-receiver) in position to motion forward means he needs to align further back or use what’s called “Y-back” motion.
Since the defensive back is in a stand still position, this gives the Y-receiver the advantage. Should the defensive back begin motioning back to match the offensive player’s speed, the quarterback could just throw a quick inside route – they only needed 2-yards. Should the defensive back hold his ground, the Y-receiver has a speed advantage and get passed him for a pass over the top. Even the curve of the motion is used for deception. Running toward his teammates, the Y-receiver could use them to create a natural pick.
The fullback’s alignment to the left of the center gives the formation balance. Yes, there are more players on the right, but they are spread out. Positioning the fullback to the left allows for a power running game to the left, forcing the defense to protect that part of the field shallower than ideally desired. It can also be used for extra protection on a quarterback rollout to the left.
Coach Yarborough called a flood play. In a flood play, the receivers layer themselves toward one sideline so that quarterback has two reads: whether the defense is in zone or man coverage! In zone, a defense is forced to make a choice between two open receivers. In man, they have to cover the receiver for an extended period of time. The longer a defensive back is in coverage, the greater the breakdown in coverage. Cape Fear was in man coverage.
The Y-receiver’s responsibility is to clear out his defender. Versus man coverage, the Y’s defender will follow him deep and open the middle of the field. A defense doesn’t want to assign that responsibility to the middle defender, because he will be beat by Y every time since Y in full speed motion.
The X-receiver does a shallow cross to the left. His defender does a good job of defending but in the process, forces the Jack linebacker (the linebacker that’s aligned further back) to remain shallow as well. Remaining this shallow clears the way for the Z-receiver to reach the corner with no defensive traffic.
This allows the Z-receiver to make a move and beat the Z-defender to the inside and race to the corner of the end zone. Which he does and makes a great catch to win the game. It was perfectly executed and it gave the Havoc and 60-59 victory!
It was a great play call, with even better execution – and that’s the key! X’s and O’s don’t win games, players do, and the ability of the offensive line to give the quarterback time to throw, the ability of the receivers to get open, and the ability for the quarterback to make the proper reads were all crucial components to making the play work. So, congratulations to Anson Yarborough and the rest of the Carolina Havoc on their week 1 victory, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more highlights of them this season!
By: Marcelo Metzelar - Contributing Writer
Saturday night’s match was the first ever game between the Arizona Rattlers and the Tucson Sugar Skulls. Arizona pounded Tuscon 63-28 in front of 16,110 fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix to remain undefeated. Tucson falls to 2-1.
The Sugar Skulls started off strong as they opened the scoring on a Mike Jones 2-yd run. Jones finished with a game leading 63 yards off 9 carries. This would be the last time the Rattlers trailed, as they answered a minute and a half later with a 26-yard strike when Rattlers’ WR Dezmon Epps broke a tackle and scampered into then end zone to tie the game up 7-7. That was Epps’ only catch of the day, however, he added 4 kickoff returns and an even hundred yards.
The Sugar Skulls next series would end in disaster when Rattlers’ DB Dillion Windfrey recovered the blocked field goal attempt in the Sugar Skulls’ end zone to take the lead for good. Another defensive stop and a Verlon Reed touchdown run would give the Rattlers three unanswered scores before a Matt Behrendt 16-yard run would bring the Sugar Skulls to within seven. The Rattlers’ Reed would throw two more touchdown passes to Markis Sumpter and Jabre Lolley to end the half 35-14.
Two more Rattler touchdown runs would start the third quarter for four unanswered scores and a 49-14 lead. The Sugar Skulls would get their second touchdown of the night from Jones, whose 11-yard trot made it 49-21. Lolley rushed for two touchdowns to start the fourth quarter to cap his 11 carry 61 yard, rushing performance.
Jake Medlock found Rico brown for a 22-yard score with 4:42 left in game to make the game 63-21. That would complete the 10 play 7:47 drive.
Both teams will have a week off before they take on their respective opponents on Sunday, March 31. The Rattlers will play the Sioux Falls Storm in Talking Stick Arena. The Sugar Skulls will be home as they take on fellow expansion team, San Diego Strike Force, in a Week 2 rematch, where the Sugar Skulls won 65-44 in San Diego’s Pechanga Arena.
By RJ Ciancio
Director of NAL Coverage
The Bismarck Bucks renewed the Duel of Dakotas when they hosted the Sioux Falls Storm in a what could best be described as one of of the world’s largest hunting expeditions.
The Bismarck defense came out with a purpose as they were able to hold the high-powered Sioux Falls offense was held to a field goal.
Trailing by three the Bismarck came out looking for a response. What fans got a miserable fourth down conversion attempt, giving the Storm an edge.
Sioux Falls had a sure touchdown broken up by Joe Blount on the first play of the drive. Lorenzo Brown flashed his versatility by running twice on the drive with the latter rush resulting in a Storm Touchdown. With the extra point the storm had earned a two score lead.
Brandon Clark set up the Bucks by returning the ball to the Storm 24. Quarterback John Gibbs showed his quick thinking multiple times on the drive but forgot to use his arms correctly throwing a pick-six. With the extra point the Bucks now trailed the Storm by 17.
After a muffed kick the Bucks attempted to get the ball out of the endzone. However, it would have been better to take the rouge as the return man fumbled the ball and with pure instinct the Storm fell onto the ball for another touchdown. After the extra point split the uprights the Bucks trailed by 24. The next Bismark drive was abasimal, ending in another turnover on downs.
The next Storm drive had a rare unsportsmanlike conduct penalty sighting as they were backed up 15 yards. Lorenzo Brown reminded the Bucks defense why he’s one of the Indoor Football League’s (IFL) elite. Even his tipped passes are good the receive catches them for easy touchdowns. All of a sudden the Storm held 31-zero lead.
The Bucks were handed a gift via an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving them great field position. Bismarck pulled John Gibbs and Homer Causey took the reigns. The Storm assisted Bismark with a pass interference call. The Bucks finally got on the bored with a field goal. Now they only trailed by 28.
The Storm started the drive around the Bismarck 13. A young buck showed how next the team is to the IFL by giving up an illegal defense penalty. On first and goal Sioux Falls run the ball for an east touchdown. With another extra point the Storm held a 38-three lead.
Homer Causey ran like a madman for a first own and some momentum to kickstart the drive. Nobody decided to tend to the fire as the Bucks drive fizzled out, ending with a missed field goal.
Sioux Falls began to wiggle their way down the field, making it more uncomfortable for the Bucks faithful to watch. Lorenzo Brown found Dameon Ford for in a perfect strike for a touchdown. The kicking game remained automatic as the extra point made it 45-three.
The Bucks slowly began developing the passing game as they were able to draw the Storm offsides before a field goal attempt. However, that penalty didn’t help since the kicker hooked his attempt to the left to end the first half.
The Bucks came out of the woods returning the opening kick for a touchdown. With the extra point making it 10-45.However, he Storm responded quickly as Lorenzo Brown flashed his brilliance by tossing up a 37 yard strike for a touchdown. With the extra point the Storm brought the score to 52-10.
The Bucks got to work on the unenviable task of trudging back from 42 down. Bismarck relied on short passes and runs to get them out of the end zone’s shadow. The Bucks plan worked as they cracked a large run for almost 20 yards. Bismark seemed to have found a plan until a snap went over the quarterback's head losing a massive amount of field position. The Bucks were faced with dilemma on fourth and goal, take the three points and know the long drive helped shrink the lead or roll the dice. Bismarck went with the latter option and cam up inches short, turing the ball over on downs, wasting a time-consuming drive.
Lorenzo Brown scrambled out of the endzone giving the Storm some breathing room. An over the wall catch helped propel the drive deep into Bismark territory. The Storm finally slipped up as a Lorenzo Brown pass was intercepted in the endzone.
John Gibbs started the drive strong with a fifteen yard pass over the middle. Even though the offensive line may have had a mistake, Gibbs didn’t care throwing a dime. However the drive ended in ugly fashion was the Storm grabbed an interception in the endzone.
The Storm went to the ground game for support before returning to the passing game with little success. A 56-yard field goal attempt was thwarted by something all indoor kickers can’t stand, a low scoreboard.
Bismarck had a chance to gain some momentum but the target receiver was overshot. However, The Buck kept kicking despite the lopsided score. The ground game was easily stopped as the Bucks resorted to more short passes. A fumble nearly ended the drive early but given a second chance Bismarck worked their way to the two of Sioux Falls. A short pass was batted down in the endzone making it fourth and two. A penalty backed the Bucks up five more yards, but this didn't deter them from going for it again is Homer Cousy ran in for the score. Causey ran for the two point conversion making it 52-18.
A meaningless onside kick was recovered by the Storm giving them good field position. The team continued the ground attack as they ran out clock, ending the game 52-18 with a Storm victory. Sioux Falls came into the the forest and shot the Bucks like Bambi’s mother.
By Christopher Mabry
Last night in Cedar Rapids, the River Kings hosted the Quad City Steamwheelers to kickoff week 4 in the IFL.
Early on the game, it was all Steamwheelers as they took the lead heading into halftime. Then, for the first few minutes in the third the River Kings attempted to catch up to the Steamwheelers. Unfortunately due to interceptions and fumble recoveries for touchdown, the Quad City Steamwheelers defeated the Cedar Rapids 58-36.
Steamwheelers next game is on March 22, 2019 at the Sioux Falls Storm. As for the Cedar Rapids River Kings, their next matchup is at home against the defending United Bowl champions Iowa Barnstormers. That game will be played on March 30, 2019. Both matchups can be seen on the IFL official YouTube page.
By Christopher Mabry
Overall, they are It is week four in the Indoor Football League season and the playoff picture is starting to form in this very young season. To kickoff the week, the Quad City Steamwheelers who is in fifth place with a 1-1 record are traveling to Iowa to take on the eighth ranked Quad City River Kings who are currently 1-2.
For quad Cities, this will be their third game this season, but their first game to be on the road. In their first two games at home, they are averaging 48.7 points per game, and 265 yards per game. As for the defense, they are giving up 58.7 points per game to their opponents and 272 yards per game.
On the other side of the field is the Quad City River Kings. So far this season, the River Kings have played in three games. Two at home and one on the road. In the games played at home, they are 1-1 and on the road they are currently 0-1 Overall, they are at 1-2. The River Kings defense is giving up 58 points per game and 272 yards per game.
If either of these two teams wants to win tonights game, they have to rely on their defense to keep the other from scoring and taking big leads.
Play of the Week for IFL Week 3
by: Marcelo Metzelar, Contributing Writer
To the untrained eye, the FG blocking unit just seems like getting 8 people to rush the kicker as hard as they can, hoping you get unblocked, and diving at the kicker. This cannot be further from the truth. Special teams are a huge part of the game. Points are won and lost. Yardage and field position are gained. It may seem like stating the obvious, but an offense’s chances of scoring are greater the closer they are to the opponent’s goal line. Start at your own five yard line and your chances of scoring are significantly less than if you start at the opponent’s five yard line.
First, let’s look at the rule-exemptions for field goals. A field goal formation cannot be used on any down unless it is the final 30 seconds of the 1st half or the final 30 seconds of the 2nd half if trailing by 3 points or less. A scrimmage kick formation (FG formation for the layman) can only be used on fourth downs or obvious kicking situations. This means using the field goal formations to gain advantages is not permissible.
Scrimmage kick formations must have a 5-man line, a personal protector, a holder, and a kicker. Scrimmage kick formations must also be balanced, meaning, there are an equal number of linemen on each side.
Because fakes are allowed, and missed FGs mean that the defense can return them, the defense must be prepared for (a) blocking the kick, (b) returning the kick, (c) preventing a fake. The defense is restricted in the following manner: (a) must have 4 down linemen and 4 LB/DB, (b) the defensive line must align head to head on the offensive guards and tackles/ends, (c) no one aligns over the center.
The scrimmage kick formation for both offense and defense will look like the figure below:
In our play of the week, Sioux Falls took advantage of the stunts rules that are allowed on scrimmage kick formations. For those that do not know, a defensive stunt is not asking a defensive player to commit feats of risk and danger, moreover, it is the term used for a defensive player to defend a different gap from which he was aligned. There are different types, but the one used in our play of the week was a slant.
The purpose of a stunt is to lure an offensive lineman to pursue the man in front of him and thereby making a huge whole for the other defensive player to charge. That’s exactly what happened in our Play of the Week.
Nebraska’s kicker is a left footed kicker, so, the personal protector and the holder flip sides. The left DE for Sioux Falls is #11 Charles Williams. The left DT is #15 Claude Davis.
Davis slants across the center’s face into the left side of the center. This forces the offensive right tackle to turn to him and ignore Williams. The personal protector’s job is to ensure there is no interior penetration and gets distracted by Davis and follows his charge too.
This allows Williams a free path to block the kick. In 11-man outdoor football. Because it is required to have a 7-man line AND having wings to extend the width by another two men allows the kicking team to practice one blocking technique – cover the inside gap. The distance from the outside is too great to make a block from the outside commonplace. However, in the indoor game, a 5-man line with no wings makes that a much easier possibility. Because of this, blockers for the kicking team are assigned a man to block, while maintaining gap integrity. The offensive guard in his effort to block Williams disregards his gap integrity because of the real time confusion that is football line play. There is also a conditioning to the front charge. A player becomes accustomed to covering the same front charge over and over, so that when a stunt is called, the need to block the same man becomes habit. This is why stunting every play is unsound defense.
Equate it to a change up in baseball. The batter sees the 95 mph fastball three times in a row, that the 75 mph change up catches him off guard. This is a great call by the Sioux Falls special teams staff, and the outcome allowed the Storm to take a two-score lead going into halftime. This gives the Storm momentum, and was a game changing play that helped give the Storm their second win of the season.
Green Bay scored a field goal on their opening drive. They didn't score again.
As the Iowa Barnstormers (2-0) raised their championship banner on Saturday, March 9, the home team showed significant defensive strength in their 41-3 victory against the Blizzard.
Iowa stopped the Blizzard on multiple goal to go situations, including a pick six by Jour Wickliffe to end the contest.
It was a slower game, with Iowa up 16-3 heading into the fourth quarter. Green Bay forced numerous field goal attempts themselves, but Iowa started the rout with a Samuel Charles five yard touchdown. Jamal Tyler also added a running and receiving touchdown in the final frame.
For Green Bay (1-2), the passing game struggles continue. The team has gone two straight games without a passing touchdown and only have three total on the season. A week removed from being named the IFL offensive player of the week, Lenorris Footman threw for just 7 of 26 for 92 yards and two interceptions. Four different receivers caught passes for Green Bay, as Levi Copelin led with three catches for 46 yards.
Daquan Neal once again showed off his skills, going 17 of 23 for 157 yards and four touchdowns. He also had 32 yards on the ground. Each of his touchdown passes went to a different wide receiver, but Ryan Balentine was his favorite target. Balentine caught nine passes for 87 yards.
Director of NAL Coverage
Female football is a sport that currently doesn’t have much mainstream exposure and in my mind, the sport doesn't get a fair chance. When the most well known league in your sport, the Legends Football League (LFL) is known for using its players looks to sell tickets, you realize the microcosm of the sport you see may not be a fair representation of what female football truly is. The sport is much older than most people know, with the first account of female football dating back in 1926 with the Frankford Yellow Jackets having the female games during halftime. Ever since then, the sport has grown.
However, I want to talk about female arena football, a female category of what is already considered a niche in itself. The Arena Football League (AFL) had its test season in 1986, but it would take until February 1, 2004 for female football to hit the mainstream. What event catapulted the sport of female football into mainstream culture you may ask, why that would be the pay-per-view event during the Super Bowl halftime known as the Lingerie Bowl. The name leaves little to the imagination. Team Dream battled Team Euphoria as scantily clad women battled in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as Team Dream won six to zero. One of the main draws of the Lingerie Bowl was the looks of the female players. Interestingly enough if the fans of the game were looking for attractive females to gawk over they could have seen the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction free of charge. The Lingerie Bowl was played on and off until 2009 when the Lingerie Football League (now the Legends Football League) formed from the annual bowl game. However, this wasn’t the first or last time a female broke into the world of indoor football.
The first female player to play in a professional indoor football game was Abby Vestal who kicked for the Kansas Koyotes of the American Professional Football League in 2007, scoring her first points via three extra points on April, 23 of her debut season. Two female kickers popped up in the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL). The first of which was Katherine Hndia (the first ever female to score in an NCAA Division I-A game) kicked for the Fort Wayne FireHawks for three games that season before being released due to a developing blood clot in her kicking leg. That same CIFL season Julie Harshbarger (which is a great last name for a football player by the way) began her kicking career as she played for the Chicago Cardinals. She continued playing through the 2016 season when she played for Champion Indoor Football’s Chicago Eagles.
Possibly, the most famous example of a female playing indoor football is former Arizona Cardinal assistant coaching intern and current Atlanta Legends defensive specialist Dr. Jennifer Welter. On February 15, 2014 she first took the field as a running back for the then Indoor Football League member Texas Revolution during a preseason game against the North Texas Crunch where she ran the ball three times for negative one yard. She made the Revolution’s regular season roster and would later become their linebackers and special teams coach, making her the first female coach in a male professional league.
There have been many female indoor players, but there once was a daring league that tried to dethrone the LFL as the top indoor female league. In 2012 the Women’s Arena Football League (WAFL) had its inaugural season. They were a more family friendly alternative to the LFL. With six teams the league took the field to chase the Diva Bowl (the league’s championship game name). The WAFL decided to have its players wear normal football attire instead of the LFL’s more provocative outfits that included bikini wear. Sadly, even with this family friendly brand in mind the league folded after one season with the Houston Lady Oilers being the only champions.
In 2018 Gregg Fornario of the West Virginia Roughriders started Professional Arena Football (PAF) alongside New England Cavalry owner Kevin James. After not finding suitable teams for the PAF, the league folded with the Roughriders returning to the American Arena League. Out of the ashes of the PAF rose the New England Arena League (NEAL). One of the many features that makes the upstart NEAL stand out is its Women’s Division. I reached out to Mr James about trying to establish a female indoor division, he said “I’m actually one of the parties trying to establish a WAFL.” When asked about players getting paid unlike the LFL he said, “One-hundred percent these ladies would be paid. I can’t say if its 100 bucks a game… or 500 bucks a game. Our goal is to follow the markets calling for it. If it makes money. Ya know? If it doesn’t make money it doesn’t make cents…”
One of the LFL’s draws is it’s football being played by scantily clothed women. When I inquired about the uniforms Mr. James said, “...No booty shorts… real helmets, not hockey helmets, real shoulder pads. Not hockey or lacrosse pads. Arena football for women… legit just like the males.” Another topic I brought up with Mr. James was naming the teams. I have seen names like the Rock Hill Lady Raiders who play in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), DC Divas (also of the WFA), San Diego Seduction (a former LFL team), Los Angeles Temptation (a current LFL team) and something that made me curious is why so many of them market themselves of female football instead of football played by females. I asked Mr. James what kind of names he wouldn't take. In response to my inquiry he said “...We wouldn’t take derivative names. Lady Patriots wouldn’t be allowed…” I asked him about names that could be considered suggestive like the Seaside Babes. Mr. James gave the logical answer of “We are pretty open-minded… but we only want legit brands and logos. Stuff we would want to sell and wear ourselves. I think babes we would consider… We don’t want the women’s rights groups coming after us. Or PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). We wouldn’t use names like rabbit killers…”
I reached out to Manouchka Nikki Joseph of the WFA’s Cali War. I asked her if she would consider playing indoor football if it meant better pay. She said, “Possibly, at least experience like the guys. I wished we had a combine! That [would] be super cool.” I have reached out to the LFL about paying their talent but they have not responded. Manouchka cleary has passion for the game. She said, “I’m 43 and still play like I’m 27… Actually 27 all the time…” She later continued “I’m just a player who just wanted to try it and fell in love playing it. I’m just trying to make room for my future.” When I inquired about her thoughts on the LFL not currently paying its players she said, “They play now with us. [The] LFL limited the big girls from playing. My leagues have room for all shapes and size.”
I was happy to interview Raksha M. Bethencourt, a linebacker for the Orlando Phantoms of the Florida Champion Football League (FCFL). When I explained the concept of a non LFL style female arena league and asked if she would support it Ms. Bethencourt was ecstatic. “Of course! The real question is, are they modeling it after mens arena football? Do the players get paid? What kind of facilities are being supplied? If we aren't getting paid, what the cost to play?”
I explained that players will be paid although the dollar value is not yet known and the ladies would wear normal uniforms unlike the LFL. Rakasha is very much pushing for equality. She said, “I'd say, if we can get the same treatment as the opposite sex, then I'm all for it. I think it would be a huge breakthrough for women everywhere.” One of the big talking points I brought up was how to convince people that non LFL female arena football exists. Raksha said “Dr. [Jen] Welter’s involvement would be crucial. She's been doing this for so long and has so much credibility that I think a lot of female football players would follow her. I know I would.” As far as the time of year to play she said, “I think a good way [to market ourselves] would be to play the season during the off season of mens season. We could have the [Alliance of American Football] AAF, women's football, college and then [National Football League] NFL. Who wouldn't love football all year long?” Considering Raksha is breaking gender barriers in the FCFL I felt obligated to ask her if the would consider joining this hypothetical women's arena league after fulfilling her commitment to the Phantoms. She said: “If it would allow me the ability to provide for my family AND further my abilities in football then, yes. No doubt.”
Female indoor football is a very untapped section of indoor football that I hope to see given the representation and legitimacy it deserves. With female football as a whole growing it only is a matter of time before the arena world gets a non- gimmicked version of female arena football.