The Salt Lake Screaming Eagles played their first (and only) season in the Indoor Football League in 2017. This wasn’t just any ordinary IFL team, however. This team was run by Project FANchise. Under them, fans were the ones to make the calls.
Quarterback Verlon L. Reed liked the ideas of fans calling plays. At the same time, however, he wasn’t that big a fan of it.
“It was pretty cool. It had its pros and cons,” he told Arena Football Talk. “It was harder for defenses to get any tendencies and really know what we wanted to do.
“It made the interaction with the fans even better. Cons were us not being able to call the best plays for our type of players that we had. But we made it work and had fun doing it though we would have loved to win more games.”
The Screaming Eagles played their first game against the Nebraska Danger on Feb. 16 at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake, UT. Following their first ever touchdown, fans stormed the field. It was mass chaos that got mixed reactions from fans watching on YouTube and the commentators. Reed just went with it.
“I gave some high fives to some fans and players, but it threw everyone off because we didn't know it was going to happen,” he said. “But I don't think it was unprofessional. I like how the league is set up, minus the dress code, but it was an enjoyable moment for the most part.”
It wasn’t a good year for Salt Lake, as they finished the season with a 5-11 record, fourth worst in the league behind the Green Bay Blizzard, Cedar Rapids Titans and Colorado Crush.
Despite what the record shows, Reed enjoyed his time in Salt Lake. He did know what went wrong, however.
“We weren't really playing together in all phases of the game. If the offense doing good then the defense wouldn't. When the defense was on their job I wasn't,” he said. “I say I because I was the one turning the ball over and I knew the offense went as I went.
“But I couldn't have done anything I did without any of those guys,” he went on. “I don't really focus on my stats cause I feel that I work so hard that the results will show themselves. It got frustrating at times but I knew what I signed up for.”
Throwing for 2,734 yards and 53 touchdowns was impressive. What was more impressive, however, was the fact that was the league’s leading rusher. Reed rushed 759 yards and 16 touchdowns. His stats earned him the Indoor Football League 2017 Rookie of the Year award.
Reed signed with the reigning IFL champion Arizona Rattlers on Aug. 24. Arizona had defeated the Sioux Falls Storm in United Bowl IX, ending a seven-year run by Sioux Falls.
“A couple of my coaches from Findlay were saying some coaches from Arizona [were] trying to contact me and I talked with coach [Kevin Guy] and we hit it off immediately,” Reed spoke on how his signing came to be. “He told me everything they had to offer and how they could help me become a better player and person and I was on board.
“He also told me about the dynamic of the team. In which I felt like the quarterback last year did an actual pretty damn good job for them. But when he left coach told me he wanted to be more dynamic at the qb position. It sounds like coach wants to win every way he has to instead of however he can. I feel I bring that to the team.”
Darron Thomas had started the 2017 season, the first for Arizona in the IFL after leaving the Arena Football League, But Cody Sokol was their quarterback when the team won United Bowl X on July 8.
It will be an interesting quarterback competition come training camp time, but Reed feels no pressure.
“There's only pressure when trying to do too much,” he said. “I'm just going to go in and do my job as best as I can. The rest will take care of itself. I haven't been on a winning team in years so this will b refreshing for me.”
As for Salt Lake, since leaving the Indoor Football League, there has not been much chatter on their future. They did tweet on Oct. 8 that they “have big plans for 2018.” Only time will tell what that could mean.
“I have no idea about why they left or what they're doing,” Reed said of his former team. “I'm more focused on this upcoming season, getting better and winning games and championships.”
The Indoor Football League will be playing their 10th season in 2018. Play will begin in February and rumors are that United Bowl X will be played on Saturday, June 10.
Two new teams, the Bloomington Edge and West Michigan Ironmen from Champions Indoor Football (CIF) joined the IFL to replace the Screaming Eagles and Colorado Crush, also owned by Project FANchise.
The Cedar Rapids Titans have signed former Wichita Falls quarterback Charles McCullum. He was the 2016 and 2017 MVP during his time in Wichita Falls.
This is not his first time playing with the Titans. He was their starting quarterback in 2013, leading them to the United Conference Championship game. That was the first of four seasons that Cedar Rapids had made the conference title game prior to last season.
During his 2017 campaign with the Nighthawks, McCullum threw for 3,049 yards and 75 touchdowns. He also made moves with his feet, rushing for 276 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He currently ranks second in Indoor Football League history in both passing yards (11,942) and passing touchdowns (263) behind only the great Chris Dixon.
Cedar Rapids will be playing their eighth season in the IFL. The league itself will be playing its 10th season in 2018. According to the press release, the schedule will be released “in the coming weeks.”
McCullum told arena/indoor football journalist Stephen Ur III on Oct. 18 that “wherever I end up at, we are going to compete and compete hard.”
The Iowa Barnstormers have finalized their coaching staff ahead of the 2018 season. 2017 IFL Head Coach of the Year Dixie Wooten will return. Joining him will be defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Marcus Coleman, special teams coordinator and defensive line coach Malcolm Nelson. Hurtis Chin will be joining the team for his first season as assistant head coach.
2018 will be Wooten’s second with Iowa. He coached the Barnstormers to a 13-3 record in 2017. The Barnstormers also reached the postseason for the first time since 2009.
Both Coleman and Nelson will also be returning for their second season in Iowa.
“We have fun being around each other, we believe in each other, and we are there for each other no matter what,” Wooten said on behalf of his coordinators. “We make sure we are all on the same page to be successful."
Chin joins the team after being the head coach of the Nebraska Danger during the 2017 season. Before being named the head coach, he was the team’s assistant head coach. He had been a member of the Nebraska coaching staff the past six seasons.
“Chinn will bring a lot of football knowledge to the organization," Wooten said of his new assistant coach. "As a player, he was one of the smartest and as a coach his football IQ grew even bigger.
“He is a guy that people will listen to because he is up front and truthful. He has a gift to push players and get the best out of them. We are excited to have him on our coaching staff this year."
The Indoor Football League will be playing their 10th season in 2018. As of now, there are eight teams in the league, including two former Champions Indoor Football (CIF) teams in the Western Michigan Ironmen and Bloomington Edge.
The Nebraska Danger have signed quarterback Damien Fleming. Former quarterback Drew Powell recently signed with the Iowa Barnstormers. Powell threw for 573 yards and six touchdowns in four games with Nebraska after spending most of the season with the Sioux Falls Storm.
Fleming took over the starting quarterback job for the Jacksonville Sharks of the National Arena League last season after Tommy Grady broke his foot early in the season. He went on to throw for 1,047 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also led them to a win over the Columbus Lions in the National Arena League title game on July 10.
Fleming is not the only former member of the Sharks joining the Danger. Head coach Mark Stoute, who was fired after eight games with the Sharks, was also hired by the Danger. He led them to an 8-0 start before being fired.
Nebraska finished the 2017 season with a 9-7 record. Their conference record was 5-2. They advanced all the way to the Intense Conference Championship Game, but fell to the eventual champion Arizona Rattlers.
Expect Fleming to win the starting job with Nebraska after impressing coach Stoute with his performance in Jacksonville. Also, with the Wichita Falls Nighthawks no longer part of the league, Nebraska has a better shot at the United Bowl.
The Indoor Football League will be playing their 10th season in 2018. United Bowl X is reportedly expected to be played at the end of June, with the game looking like it will be played on Saturday, June 30.