BY JEFF MORROW
August 27, 2014
For the first time in five years, the Indoor Football League is expanding.
On Tuesday, Jeff Lamberti, president of the Iowa Barnstormers, announced that his franchise was leaving the Arena Football League and becoming part of the IFL.
That expands the IFL’s roster from the nine franchises that have played these past two seasons to 12 for the 2015 season. Besides the Barnstormers, Billings, Mont., was announced in the middle of the 2014 season as an expansion team for 2015. On Monday, an expansion franchise in Wichita Falls, Texas, was announced.
Billings will be known as the Wolves, while Wichita Falls will be the Nighthawks.
Tri-Cities Fever owner Teri Carr said the three new teams are all welcome additions. But more important, they’ll be strong franchises.
“The gentleman who owns the Wichita Falls team (Drew Carnes), he’s going to be a good addition,” said Carr. “He’s retired and spent the past two seasons involved in community service. He wants his team to do the same thing.”
For Lamberti, moving the Barnstormers from the higher-profile AFL down to the IFL makes sense just from an economic standpoint.
It takes a lot more money to run an AFL franchise in a league spread out all over the country.
Although the IFL is also spread out — Carr always says the Fever is located out on an island all by itself, with Billings and Wyoming the closest franchises to the Tri-Cities — Iowa will have short bus trips to play neighbors in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Grand Island, Neb.
Carr said that there should be no more additions for the 2015 season.
However, the league lineup may drop back down to 10 or 11 teams before the first kickoff next season, depending on whether the owners of the Wyoming Cavalry decide to go forward with another season.
Mike Layton, one of the owners who has been running the team, has struggled with some health issues.
Carr says the league would like an answer to the Wyoming question by next week.
The same thing goes for the Allen Wranglers, depending on whether ownership decides whether it can afford the budget for the coming season.
That would help everyone with setting their schedules by the time the next owners meeting occurs Sept. 16-17.
“The schedule is in the works,” Carr said. “At the meetings, we’ll finalize our budgets, and if there are any operations and manual changes, they’ll be finalized.”
BY JEFF MORROW, TRI-CITY HERALD
The Tri-Cities Fever was eliminated from the Indoor Football League playoff races last weekend during the team’s bye week.
Now the team is playing for pride, and with a 6-6 record and two games remaining on the team’s schedule, the team would like to finish the season with a winning record.
“Nothing has changed,” said Fever coach Adam Shackleford. “We are all professionals here.”
The Fever enters tonight’s contest at Wyoming having won five of its last six games and coming off of that bye week.
Running back Keithon Flemming rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns in Tri-Cities’ 94-30 win over Wyoming on May 24.
For his efforts, Flemming was named the IFL’s offensive player of the week.
But even after winning so big against the Cavalry two weeks ago, Shackleford said he and his team are taking nothing for granted.
“Our expectations are we’re going to be in a close game,” said Shackleford. “Nobody there is going to be our friends. Not the announcer. Not the fans. No one. We have to beat everyone there.”
Tri-Cities has been one of the hottest teams in the league over the last two months.
But the bottom line for the Fever this season is it has a 1-6 record against the four teams set to make the IFL playoffs: the Cedar Rapids Titans (0-2 against), Colorado Ice (1-1), Nebraska Danger (0-2) and Sioux Falls Storm (0-1).
Meanwhile, Wyoming head coach Ryan Lingenfelder — who was the Fever’s defensive coordinator two seasons ago — has been frustrated with a number of things involving his team and the league: his team’s 1-12 record; the lack of veterans who want to play in Wyoming; the lack of chances for his team to practice inside the arena this season; and the lack of professionalism some teams have shown in the IFL.
The latest issue was last week’s visit by the Colorado Ice, which beat the Cavalry to clinch a playoff berth and eliminate the Fever.
The Ice players were calling Cavalry players and fans derogatory names, said Lingenfelder, which could easily be heard by everyone with the small attendance number in the arena.
“At least I know a classy group of players, coaches and owners are coming to town,” Lingenfelder said regarding the Fever’s visit to Casper tonight.
Note: The IFL is creating a hall of fame and is scheduled to announce its first class during the United Bowl festivities.
Among the candidates for the first induction class is Fever owner Teri Carr, who seemed a bit embarrassed when her fellow owners included her.
“I don’t think I deserve that,” Carr said. “I don’t understand.”
But Carr has run a model franchise since the team joined the IFL a few years back. She was named executive of the year in 2011, the Fever was named franchise of the year by the IFL in 2012, and players love to play in the Tri-Cities.
Also among the list of possible inductees is former linebacker Ameer Ismail, who played for the Fever in 2010.
Notes: Fever receiver Ed Berry has been activated from injured reserve. … The Fever is ranked second in the league in scoring offense at 54.2 points per game, Wyoming is last at 31.2 … The Fever ranks second in TDs scored with 89 … Tri-Cities ranks second in pass efficiency at 105.8 … The Fever ranks first in passing TDs with 50 … Fever receiver Jackie Chambers ranks fourth in the league in scoring with 15 TDs in just nine games … Flemming ranks third in the league in rushing with 411 yards and third at 5.0 yards per attempt … Fever quarterback Houston Lillard ranks fourth in the league in passing TDs with 33 in just eight games … Fever DB Lionell Singleton ranks fifth in the IFL in tackles with 69.5.