NIFL Weekly

03/12/02 Rockey Larson

It’s that time of year again, football fans. The National Indoor Football League is gearing up for their third season which gets underway this weekend and the action promises to be as exciting as ever. Last year, the Ohio Valley Greyhounds beat the Billings Outlaws in the NIFL Championship Game (affectionately known as the NIFFLE Bowl) with a final score of 55-52. With an almost-annual rise in talent across the league, NIFL Season Three should offer all the hits, athleticism and action that any football fan could ask for.

Five expansion teams have joined the NIFL, bringing the total number of franchises to twenty-four. The newest additions to the NIFL family are:

  • Evansville, IN BlueCats
  • Fort Wayne, IN Freedom
  • Lexington, KY Horsemen
  • Myrtle Beach, SC Stingrays
  • Utah Warriors of West Valley City, UT.

In a happy twist of fate, at least for their division rivals, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Lexington and Myrtle Beach join the NIFL Champion Ohio Valley Greyhounds and the veteran Tennessee Riverhawks in the Atlantic East Division.

Week One in the NIFL showcases eight teams taking to the turf.

Friday, March 14th

Sioux City Bandits @ La Crosse Night Train

The inaugural game of the season is a battle between two Pacific North Division rivals. The Sioux City Bandits come to town sporting a new, pass-first offense with veteran signal-caller Jarrod DeGeorgia back under center. The Night Train appear to have upgraded at nearly all of their skill positions, with former University of Illinois starter Johnny Johnson taking over the QB duties and former NFL fullback Chris Floyd, who the Arena Football League’s Chicago Rush have their eye on, should see the bulk of the carries. But the “glory” positions won’t decide this game. No, this battle will be won in the trenches. Sioux City is missing two of their three starters on the offensive line. That’s good enough for me. The Night Train rumble on to victory.

Saturday, March 15th

Bismarck Roughriders @ Billings Outlaws

The NIFL Game of the Week features two Pacific West Division powerhouses that share one of the most spirited rivalries in the NIFL. Bismarck has done an excellent job of upgrading on the defensive side of the ball, but suffered a major setback with the defection of NIFL all-pro quarterback Danny Ragsdale to the Utah Warriors. Billings has NIFL stud Albert Higgs back under center and have a solid core of veterans returning to the team. Expect this game to be high-scoring, but I expect Billings to pull away in the 2nd half as Bismarck struggles to keep up with the Outlaws scoring machine.

Tupelo FireAnts @ Beaumont Drillers

The only noise coming out of Tupelo this off-season has been the sound of crickets chirping. On the other hand, Beaumont, formerly the Alexandria LA Rangers, has been very busy upgrading their team with indoor football veterans from across the South. In football, no news is not good news. Bank on the Drillers.

Sunday, March 16th

Wyoming Cavalry @ Rapid City Red Dogs

In another battle of Pacific West Division foes, the Casper, Wyoming Cavalry travel to take on the Rapid City Red Dogs. In a rivalry that spans four years and two football leagues, games between these two clubs have always been high-spirited and intense. Expect this contest to be no different. Both squads are coming off of sub-par performances last year, with each team suffering single-digit deficits in the majority of their losses. Rapid City has crowd favorite and All-NIFL quarterback Terrance Bryant back under center and the Red Dogs coaching staff spent much of the off-season upgrading. Perhaps the most important acquisition for Wyoming has been Defensive Coordinator Al Burrell, who brings a smash-mouth type of attitude to what was a horrendous 2002 defensive effort for the Cavalry. I predict a see-saw affair, with the lead changing hands throughout the game. In the end, the Rapid City Red Dogs come out with the win.

Next week, the NIFL Weekly column will include the popular NIFL Power Poll, which ranks each team in the National Indoor Football League according to power, as voted upon by an expert group of pollsters. See you then!

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