By Brice Burge
Head of Management
Editor's Note: This is a weekly column regarding the sport, written by AFT's Head of Management and Host of AFT Buzz, Brice Burge. Columns come out Wednesdays. If you haven't had a chance to watch last week's game between the Quad Cities Steamwheelers and the Green Bay Blizzard, you need to it. It was an instant classic, down to the wire, filled with excitement, wackiness and all you could ever dream of from an indoor game.It was also kids day at the Resch Center and the first opportunity for a number of kids to really understand what indoor football means. Getting close to the wall and maybe getting a souvenir from a player, hearing the pads crunch in the tackles, being a part of that crowd going nuts when the Blizzard took the lead; all aspects of the sensory aspects of live sports that can be difficult to put into words.
And it was a great crowd too. Many of the fans weren't sure what to expect from Green Bay as they've won three close games with late scores or lost in absolute blowouts. But they won the week before in Quad Cities and had a chance to be 4-2 for the first time since 2005.
Those fans were treated to one of the most electric IFL games of the season, with big returns, huge sacks and both teams taking the lead in the final minute. Some of the plays were a little absurd and there was some extracurriculars happening in the first half, but for hockey-friendly Wisconsinites, it wasn't anything that would detract from the good.
The parents there also had so many great opportunities. Some of them remember the old AF2 rivalry being renewed after a long ten years. Others were happy to have a family event where the ticket prices weren't going to break the bank to bring the kids along. Even more got a chance to share the rich football tradition of the area in a new way to improve the cultural bond between generations. All knew how important a good memory like that could mean for fostering the relationship between parent and child.
If you weren't there and watched the online feed, the commentators did a great job of pushing forward the ambiance of the arena. It was a call that was honest and one that showed they were true fans of the game without being a homer. Between the late-game heroics and the play by play getting strained under all the excitement, it provided the perfect complement to what was on the field. The only negative is that watchers saw the post-game laser light show advertised and didn't get a chance to see it.
I'm not saying that the other franchises and other leagues don't have these opportunities and connections. Since starting to cover indoor football, I've had a chance to add a number of front office members and players on social media. They all respect and even cherish the times they read at local elementary schools and interact with kids at events. But when you pair this mentality with good arena staff and stellar gameday operations crews, it creates an environment where everyone can be a kid again.
This time I actually had a friend and his eight-year-old son attend this game. My friend is a blue-collar man and his wife served in the military. They have three children, but the youngest two stayed home with their mother this time.
It was both of their first experience's with the sport, and had already bought tickets for the matchup. Then he won front row tickets through a local business and got upgraded to the 15 yard line. Before the game they got to speak with some of the players in warmups and his son got a hug from BJ Hill. Another player told them about how close everyone got and how important it was for the game. Other players were just as happy to have them as the fans were to be there.
You pair that direct contact with a game like that and you create permanent, positive memories. They're memories that can remind you of big moments of your childhood, like that time your dad took you to see Jim Abbott pitch against the White Sox on your eighth birthday. Or it could give you the warm fuzzies when things aren't so good, reminding you about the love and care fostered by an experience like this.
If you think this might be reading a little too into this, I asked my friend how his son enjoyed the experience. This is what he said:
“(My son) was reserved at first, then followed my lead and got all into slamming pads and screaming. He was so pumped with that finish. As a dad that was the best part. Got a big hug and a thank you afterwards. That's all you can ask for.”
All around, I'm pretty proud that I get a chance to cover, and therefore promote, this sport. It's a real opportunity for all to get out there and keep striving towards loftier goals, whether that is professionally or personally. Thanks Green Bay and Quad Cities for letting us feel like kids again.
By RJ Ciancio
Director of NAL Coverage
With the Arena Football League having just launched a new set of uniforms I decided to go over my personal top five favorite.
Albany Empire (5)
At the number five slot we have the newest uniform on the list. Something about the neon orange against the navy blue is exciting yet soothing. The Arena Football League (AFL) made a wise choice as the flashy uniform compliments the league’s style of play. It was exciting, memorable and full of exuberance, just like the AFL’s mission.
Dallas Desperados (4)
The only away uniform on this list belongs to the Dallas Desperados. The color scheme is simple, royal blue and white. Dallas’ uniform wouldn’t be that memorable if it didn’t have the top half of the jersey in an elegant royal blue. The white lettering is a nice contrast and the same goes for the blue numbering on the white. Overall, this a solid and simple uniform.
Portland Thunder (3)
The Portland Thunder had a complex yet elegant uniform. The pants are you standed white complimented by royal blue socks. As far of the tops go they are a traditional royal blue with white numbering. However, it is the helmet that truly make the uniform memorable. The fat royal blue stripe divides the helmet well, giving two distinct areas for the grey to surround the powerful Thunder logo. This is the best uniform the revived AFL has put out so far.
Milwaukee Mustangs (2)
The original Milwaukee Mustangs are the only team that I can recall that have made turquoise, white and royal purple work as a color scheme. Royal purple is a great base for a uniform and turquoise trimming provide a smooth transition to the white numbers. The helmet, however, is what makes the look memorable. WIth a turquoise stripe down the middle of a royal purple shell with a mustang speeding along in front of an M it’s clear that much time and effort was put into this design.
New York Dragons (1)
Up to this point we have gone over bold, flashy, and clean uniforms, but none of them are quite as classic as the Aaron Garcia era New York Dragons home uniform. The fire red helmet goes perfectly with the menacing and sharp black dragon. New York was smart to make the lettering and number trim yellow, so to not overwhelm us with fire red. The black uniform has a dark and menacing look installing (as much) fear (as a uniform can) into the opposing fans and players. When you and the small red and yellow flames on the shoulders the uniform becomes a classic.
Photo courtesy of Wichita Force By James Chambers Contributing Writer
The Wichita Force improved their game in week 2 against the Texas Revolution. Even though the team gave the Revolution multiple first downs that came on fourth down attempts, fans seen a drastic improvement over week one. The first score of the game went to the Revolution, when Robert Kent Jr. threw a four-yard strike against the Force. That play defined the rest of the game.
However, the Force did make it a competition by only losing by 10 points by game end. Aside from the defensive penalties, the Force managed to improve as a team after a 50 point loss to the Duke City Gladiators. Joe Hubener finished the game with 197 yards and four touchdown passes. Eventually, the Force would end the game trailing by ten with a final score of 47 – 37.
Week three the Force played the Flying Aces in Enid, Oklahoma. The Force received the first kickoff. They would hold on the ball for an unprecedented six minutes before running back Jack Tomlinson rushed in with a five-yard scamper into the end zone.
The Aces looked like they switched places with the Force starting the game out with mis-snaps making it difficult for quarterback Joshua Floyd to handle the ball. After throwing an initial 15-yard pass to Joshua Steward Floyd fumbled the snap with the Force recovering. The Aces defense initially held the Force to a three and done possession, forcing a field goal attempt that was blocked by the Aces defense. Consequently the Force recovered the blocked football ten yards up the field yielding a first down. Additionally the Aces defense came up strong, making the Force settle for a 22-yard field goal attempt giving the Force a 10 – 0 lead.
The second quarter was time for the Aces to start their comeback attempt. The Aces put together a ten play offensive escapade that led to a touchdown with help from three penalties on the Force defense. The Aces went into the locker room at half time with a 20 – 13 lead.
The start of the second half the Aces received the first kickoff. Floyd again fumbled the throw and Wichita recovered fumble the ball again and recovering in the end zone for the tying score. Aces offensive line was flagged for a holding call on their next possession, causing their next possession to be cut short and missing a field goal attempt. Joe Hubener would help lead the Force offense down the field and throw a 19-yard toss to make the score 27 – 20.
The Aces next possession would eventually land them on the two-yard line where Floyd scored the touchdown on a quarterback keeper to close the gap just before the third quarter came to a close. The Aces missed the extra point, leaving the Force a one-point lead.
The Force answered the touchdown with a field goal giving them a four-point lead to start the fourth quarter. Floyd, determined to score selected the quarterback keeper to score another two-yard touchdown to put the Aces up by two points. Wichita’s offense proved to be too much to handle for the Aces defense. Wichita went on to score three consecutive times against the Aces. Winning the game with a score of 42 – 32. A Marcus Carter interception put the game at rest and allowed the Force the ability to seal the victory.
Next up for the Force they travel to take on the Omaha Beef who currently holds a similar one and two records. This game will be one to watch with both teams fighting for second place in their respective divisions.
Source: Facebook/Green Bay Blizzard
by Chris Mabry
Last Night, the IFL kickedoffed week 7 with a rivalry from the days of the AF2 is quickly heating back up. The Quad City Steamwheelers are traveling to Green Bay to face the Blizzard.
To show that these two teams still had a rivalry, the Blizzard started the game off with a dart that was completed for a 80-yard touchdown. In total, the Green Bay Blizzard scored a total of 6 touchdowns, 6 PAT’s, and a rouge for a total of 34 points. Blizzard Quarterback Lenorris Footman became the leading passer for Green Bay. Footman went 10-13, 141 YDS, and 4 TD’s. The teams leading rusher for the game is also Lenorris Footman. He carried the ball 8 times, went for 26 yards, and a touchdown. As for the leading receiver of the game, that honor belongs to Kezlow Smith. He got the ball three times for a total of 64 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Two Blizzard players got personal foul penalties that resulted in a warning and the referee also gave a warning of possible ejection to the PA announcer and the Blizzard sideline.
On the other side of the ball is the visiting Quad City team. The Steamwheelers scored a total of 4 touchdowns, and 3 PAT’s. They even tried with a field goal but missed out on three points. Quarterback E.J Hilliard went 12-15, 145 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Hillard is also the leading rusher by only running the ball once and going for a total of 40 yards. As for the leading receiver, that player is Keyvan Rudd. He went 89 yards on 4 attempts that accounted 2 touchdowns.
Quad City Steamwheelers next game is on April 20 at home against the Tuscan Sugar Skulls. For Green Bay, the Blizzard will take on the Nebraska Danger next on April 13
By Marcelo Metzelar, Contributing Writer
The series of plays that led to this week’s AFT Network’s Play of the Week began when the Green Bay Blizzard got the go-ahead touchdown vs Sioux Falls. With twenty seconds to go in the game, Green Bay’s Lenorris Footman found Kezlow Smith for the game winner.
The play call took advantage of Sioux Falls’ Cover 2 Sky Coverage. Formationally, the Blizzard stretched the field as much vertically as they did horizontally. The rules clearly that there must be four men on the line of scrimmage (LOS). The LOS is the imaginary line from the back tip of the football and extends from sideline to sideline. In the figure below, X is the fourth man on the line with the three down linemen. The right lineman is an eligible receiver but is kept home to block on most situations. This is why the linebacker is aligned over the right side.
Both motion men were aligned on the right side which is the wide side of the field. This makes contact at the snap difficult because the receivers have the space to avoid the block.
The pass concept is a 15 yard “In” route by X, “post” by Y, and a “go” route by Z. This is a classic concept that is geared to take advantage of Cover 2 Sky coverages. The Cover 2 concept means that there are two man covering the deep routes. In an ideal world, this means the free safety has from the middle of the field to the left sideline, and the cornerback has the middle of the field to the right sideline. See the figure below:
Z’s go route forces the CB to play more to the right of his zone. As Y heads toward the middle, the free safety’s responsibility is to cover the middle and to not get beat deep because he has no help behind him. The routes run by Y and Z stretch the defense vertically, leaving larger seams between the zones covered by linebackers and safeties. The 15-yd in by X “high-lows” the free safety as he becomes the quarterback’s read. Cover Y deep, and the 15-yard in opens up. Cover the X; and Y beats him deep.
As with last week’s column about Jimmy and Joe, a great individual effort by Smith helped make the score happen and led to the eventual game winner. Prime time players will make prime time plays. Included with the play of the week this week are two additional fantastic plays that made the win possible.
A great onside kick recovery and a great passed defensed made the win possible. Many can say it was a lucky onside recovery, but luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. The onside kick recovery was a prepared and practiced play, as evidenced by its peculiarity. Rather than kicking the ball the traditional ten yards to make the ball accessible to the kick off team’s fastest players; the ball was kick thirty yards downfield!
Onside kicks do not happen by telling the team, “Go downfield and recover the ball!” It’s a part of the weekly game plan. The kicker needs to know where to kick the ball. The kick off team needs to know where the kicker is kicking it. Every player has an assignment, between knocking receiving team’s players off the ball, to the actual recovery. Far too often, I will see a coach berating his players for not watching enough football. I can watch a movie, but that doesn’t make me a screen writer. Kudos must be given to the Blizzard coaching staff for preparing their team for this situation, and of course, the win.
By Marcelo Metzelar, Contributing Writer
An early Saturday afternoon game in Macon, GA, saw the Georgia Doom lose their season opener 48-32 to the Carolina Havoc. The Havoc improve to 3-0.
The Havoc utilized a two quarterback assault. Daryll Clark and Tymere Zimmerman shared duties behind center to help lead the Havoc undefeated start.
The Doom got the early lead as kicker, Jed Soloman split the uprights on the opening kick for his first uno of the season.
Each team got shut down on their first series when the Havoc moved downfield to the Doom eight-yard line. A Doom interception and return to their own 12 ended the Havoc series to remain scoreless.
The Havoc defense would start the ball rolling, when Martel Moore would make an interception to remember. On the return, when Moore would seemingly be ready to fall at the Doom 10-yard line, he would flick the ball back to an unsuspecting Christian Russell who would scamper the rest of the way for the touchdown and an eventual 7-1 lead.
In the second quarter, a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Doom an important first down. Antwuan Cutts would catch a Nate Sammas strike for 8 yards and the Doom’s first touchdown. Soloman would convert the kick. He would then expand the Doom lead with his second uno of the night to make it 9-7 Doom.
A second Clark interception would not amount to much as the Doom missed their 56 yard field goal attempt. Clark would find Rashad Carter on the next drive for 30-yard catch and run and a 14-9 lead. Sammas would find Cutts for their own 30-yard touchdown to regain the lead. A two point conversion would give the Doom a 17-14 lead with 4:00 to go in the first half.
Zimmerman would call his own number and run the ball for 8 yards and a Havoc 21-17 lead in the back and forth battle.
On the Doom’s next series, Victor Hampton picked the Sammas pass and returned it 26 yards for the Havoc’s second defensive touchdown. The ensuing series for the Doom would not be much better as the three and out gave the Havoc excellent field position. That would result in Zimmerman finding Trevonte Long to expand their lead going into halftime.
The Doom started the second half on fire. A circus catch by the Doom’s Bryan Robinson for 15 yards brought the score to 24-34 and Soloman hit his third uno bringing the deficit to 8 points. The Doom’s defense would come up big and make another interception to set up the Chris Slaughter touchdown to bring the score to 34-31. Soloman’s fourth and final uno of the game would make it 34-32 and that would be the last time the Doom score.
Hampton would catch the Zimmerman screen pass and scoot for a 15 yard score to start the fourth quarter onslaught. Zimmerman would make run for a touchdown, this time for 4 touch yards and the final score of the game.
The Doom will take on the Carolina Predators at home on April 7. The Havoc will take a week off and then play the Jensen Beach Tigers in a non-league matchup on April 14.