Written by Chris Mabry
Today in Tulsa Oklahoma, the Indoor Football League announced that Tulsa will add a team for the 2023 season. The team will play their home games at the BOX Center.
From 2009-2011 it was home to the Tulsa Talons of the af2 and Arena Football League before moving to San Antonio. No word on if they are bringing the Talons name back. You can see the entire press conference below curtsey of the IFL YouTube Page.
AWFC Bowl III Preview
The young league called the American West Football Conference will hold it's 3rd title game tonight in Pasco, Washington as the undefeated Tri-City Rush look to repeat their win from a year ago. Their foe is the Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks, who punched their ticket with an impressive road win over the Idaho Horseman.
For young leagues trying to get a foothold, things don't always go as planned. The original 2022 schedule included the So Cal Red Tails, but they never played a game. The Yakima Canines were also on the schedule but with lingering Covid uncertainty, and a big financial hit from last year, they didn't play. The remaining AWFC teams combined resources to create another team to fill in scheduling gaps. The NorthWest Elite were born and played a few games to keep the schedule full and the league even played a few independent games as well as a crossover game with the Las Vegas Kings--members of the American Indoor Football Alliance.
As a result, the standings looked like this:
In year one, the Idaho Horsemen finished with an undefeated season and won the championship. This year, the Tri-City Rush have the opportunity to do it. Throughout the 2022 season, the Rush have glided through teams with huge margins of victory. The closest margin was a 13-point victory for the Rush over the Horsemen. From there, they made it look easy.
The Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks face the Tri-City Rush for the 3rd time this season. In week 3, Tri City won 65-13. But, their next meeting in late May, the Skyhawks significantly closed the point-margin gap--still losing 43-20. That was actually the last time Tri-City played. They've been waiting for over a month to have an opponent for the championship. The Skyhawks have had 3 matchups since that time, going 2-1. If they are to have an advantage, it would be that they're in their groove. No doubt the Tri-City Rush have been practicing within that time, but going 5 weeks without a matchup could manifest a little rusty play early in the game. This matchup looks to be more and more interesting.
Given the red and green colors being touted by these teams, it feels a little like Christmas in July, especially for Northwestern inhabitants. While most of arena/indoor football gets played on the East Coast and the Midwest, it seems to be very lacking on the West Coast. Not today. The state of Washington will be holding an epic battle tonight to crown a champion in the NorthWest. What the future holds for this league and these teams is unclear, but it's satisfying to report that they've made notable improvement, and that improvement is coming during a challenging Covid recovery, inflation, and it's in Spring Football that is beginning to be over-saturated. When it comes to elevating and contributing to the game of arena football, I find myself rooting for these organizations to take the next step. Game on!
By Ducon Williams
While the current forecast of professional football in Bismarck looks like a dismal, dark night, fans look for a flicker of hope to shine a warm light on their brand. It's no secret that the Bismarck Bucks of the Indoor Football League have shocked fans for the wrong reasons lately. After a 7-8 regular season a year ago, and a playoff trip that ended at Massachusetts to a Pirates team that went on to win the United Bowl--things looked decent. Then, the start of 2022 looked decent. In the first 3 weeks, the Bucks beat the Green Bay Blizzard twice and had a Chase Allbaugh deuce tie the game in the Battle of the Dakota's. His deuce would have tied the game up at 38 against a Sioux Falls Storm team that Bismarck has never beat in their history. The problem? Coach Kurtiss Riggs called a timeout to ice the kicker on a deuce attempt! That's a first! He missed the next attempt and later had a field goal attempt to win the game by one. It was blocked! Storm win 38-36, but Bismarck cemented themselves as a viable foe....or so we thought.
After another loss at Massachusetts, the Bucks went to San Jose and routed the Bay Area Panthers 76-46! 76 points in one game is no small feat on the road. Bismarck looked good! Then.......the downfall. It took them 3 1/2 games to get another 76 points. They looked stagnant on offense putting up 17 on Quad City, and then Green Bay, a team Bismarck had won 6 straight times, comes into town and routs the Bucks 55-14.
From there, Bismarck would lose 3 straight road games by one score. Every game, they were in the hunt. But let's be honest: Bucks get hunted every year. Whether you ARE game, or IN the game, the name Bucks just tends to lead to death, or defeat.
At times, Bismarck has shown great heart in fighting to the bitter end. 5 of their 12 losses were by one score. It seems that no matter where the Bucks turn, the Bucks stop there. What's behind all of this? What's behind the last two years where Bismarck starts hot, then declines? Is it the constant switch in personnel? Whenever a player has a bad game, he gets benched or released? Whenever a kicker misses a pair of PAT's, the kicker gets no more attempts for the game? Whatever happened to Tahj Tolbert? At least Bismarck was 3-7 with him; 0-5 since he was released. It's hard to say, really.
To be fair, the coaches know what they are dealing with better than any passionate fan could. The small town of Bismarck, amid the plains of the North Dakota prairie isn't exactly the tourist attraction that would excite the best athletes to come play. Most people probably haven't heard of Bismarck since their fifth-grade geography class. I'm just glad they have a professional football team! They don't lack in the entertainment department, and the coaches may have obstacles that most couldn't hardly handle. Still, in the mind of many of the fans, we wonder what can be done different. After 10 straight losses and a trip to Northern Arizona, to play the league-leading Wrangler defense, it's been a dismal end to what seemed to be hopeful at first.
While the fans may be holding their heads low, we certainly hope that Rod Miller and his coaching staff are holding their heads high and will right the ship. The Ship, after all, is what they have in their scope. Other IFL teams might have Bucks in their scope with their finger on the trigger, but perhaps Miller and Company will have set up a decoy and will hunt the hunters in 2023. Don't give up hope!
By Ducon Williams