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.