NIFL Weekly #2

03/20/02 Rocky Larson

Even though only eight teams took to the turf, the NIFL season started with a bang last weekend. The showcase game of the week featured the Rapid City Red Dogs playing host to the Wyoming Cavalry. When the smoke finally cleared, NIFL fans were treated to a high-octane affair in which the teams put up a combined 140 points as Rapid City defeated Wyoming 81-60. Buckle up, sports fans, because indoor football, NIFL-style, is back in town.

The home squads were very poor hosts in week one, as all four games were chalked up as W’s for the home teams. The visitors, on average, were outscored by 28 points per contest as they managed to score an average of 27 points. On the other hand, their hosts rumbled and rolled to an average total of 55 points. Some days it just doesn’t pay to get aboard that bus.

I went a perfect 4-0 on my predictions for week one, but patting myself on the back would be premature. Week two of the NIFL sports eighteen teams taking to the indoor football field in nine contests, and the football soothsaying business just got harder.

Friday, March 21st

Lincoln Capitols (0-0) @ Show Me Believers (0-0)

Lincoln is still smarting from the departure of five Pacific North Division All-Stars and is not the high-octane team that won the Pac-North title last year. The Believers, who hail from St. Charles, MO, are a new-look squad with more than their fair share of players who are new to the indoor game. This game will be charged with excitement and enthusiasm, which is fortunate because I believe that it will have a healthy dose of mental errors from both teams. All in all, experience, and the arm of NIFL veteran qb Justin Coleman, will mean a Capitols victory.

Tri-City Diesel (0-0) @ Oklahoma Crude (0-0)

Speaking of Justin Coleman, his former team travels this week to face the Oklahoma Crude of Enid. The Diesel personify a blue-collar attitude and, while not the flashiest team in the league, always compete and walk away with their share of wins. The Crude are long on athleticism but short on experience, which could mean that they’ll be a “project in progress” at the beginning of the year. Quarterback is a question for both teams, so don’t expect a shootout. It wouldn’t surprise me to see both defenses score in this game. In the end, the Diesel pack up their gear and take a win back home.

Saturday, March 22nd

Austin Rockers (0-0) @ Beaumont Drillers (1-0)

It pains me to say it, but I know almost nothing about the Austin Rockers. It isn’t for a lack of trying, though. Their last press release is dated February 11th and their website lacks a team roster. I know more about their dance team, the Electric Rockers, than I do about their football team. That isn’t a good sign. Oh, and don’t tell my wife about the dance team joke. Beaumont beat an anemic Tupelo squad last week 33-10. It’s hard to argue with results. The Drillers improve to 2-0 this week.

Billings Outlaws (1-0) @ Utah Warriors (0-0)

Ladies and gentlemen, the Billings Outlaws are back. The 2002 Pacific Conference Champions have restocked, reloaded and are the team to beat in the NIFL. But watch out for those Warriors. While technically an expansion franchise, this Utah squad is stacked with football veterans. Both teams feature what promise to be high-scoring offenses and I suspect that both defensive coordinators will have a few more gray hairs by the end of the game. Yet, don’t underestimate the role that defense will play in this game. The outcome of this game will be determined by a handful of defensive stands. The Utah faithful will be treated to a great game of football, but their first franchise win will have to wait. Billings wins in a close game.

Evansville Bluecats (0-0) @ Fort Wayne Freedom (0-0)

In a battle of expansion teams, the Fort Wayne Freedom play host to the Evansville Bluecats. Both  as much as it will be a contest. The early word out of Fort Wayne is that they’re expecting a big crowd. In this game, a good crowd can make the difference. I’m taking the Freedom.

Myrtle Beach Stingrays (0-0) @ Houma Bayou Bucks (0-0)

The expansion Stingrays will get their first taste of the NIFL at the hands of the Bayou Bucks, and I don’t expect the ‘rays to like the outcome. Myrtle Beach is entering the fray with a good mix of rookies and veterans, but questions of cohesion are lingering. The Bayou Bucks are the type of team that will take advantage of the mistakes that the Stingrays are bound to make. Houma begins the season with a home win.

Ohio Valley Greyhounds (0-0) @ Tennessee RiverHawks (0-0)

The 2002 National Indoor Football League Champion Ohio Valley Greyhounds are planning on a repeat visit to the championship game and are one of the most veteran squads in the league. Missing from the roster is quarterback Jose Davis, who is currently with the Indiana Firebirds of the Arena Football League, but don’t let that shake you. The Greyhounds still have bite. The RiverHawks are led by All-Star runningback and former Greyhound Birdie Dockery, but questions on defense as well as at quarterback could mean a slow start for the RiverHawks. That is exactly what will happen as the Greyhounds down the RiverHawks.

Tupelo FireAnts (0-1) @ Lake Charles Land Sharks (0-0)

The FireAnts are in trouble. After suffering a loss to Beaumont where the FireAnts were only able to put 10 points on the board, now they have to face the perennial powerhouse Land Sharks in Lake Charles. When it rains, it pours. The Land Sharks win big.

Sunday, March 23rd

Sioux Falls Storm (0-0) @ Rapid City Red Dogs (1-0)

These two teams don’t like each other. Heck, these two cities don’t like each other. And that type of rivalry is what has made Sioux Falls/Rapid City clashes so intense over the years. It doesn’t matter the sport, these two South Dakota towns always come to play against each other. This indoor football game between the Storm and the Red Dogs will be no exception. Sioux Falls is a veteran team who is returning virtually all of their defense and have added former Red Dogs kicker-extraordinaire Adam Hicks and the versatile wideout/quarterback Casey Veenhof to their roster. The Red Dogs are back on track, with a potent offense lead by All-Star Terrance Bryant under center and what their coaching staff is calling their best defense in years. Expect a war. I’m going with the home field advantage and a Red Dogs win.

NIFL Power Poll

Every week, a group of NIFL experts ranging from media personalities to rabid fans put together the NIFL Power Poll. Back for it’s third year, our pollsters rank each NIFL team. The poll results are then averaged and each team ranked according to power.

Rank Team Record Comments
1 Billings Outlaws 1-0 Can Billings tame the rough and rowdy Utah Warriors?
2 Ohio Valley Greyhounds 0-0 The Champs start the season at #2. Life isn’t fair.
3 Omaha Beef 0-0 They’re loaded with talent but can they win?
4 Lake Charles Land Sharks 0-0 Always a top-performing team. Never the champs.
5 Tennessee RiverHawks 0-0 Questions at qb need to be answered.
6 Rapid City Red Dogs 1-0 Was their first game a foretaste of things to come?
7 Utah Warriors 0-0 Preseason is over. They’re the top expansion team, by far.
8 Lincoln Capitals 0-0 Can they replace the talent they’ve lost?
9 Lacrosse Night Train 1-0 What a difference an off-season makes!
10 Wyoming Cavalry 0-1 They lost, but have some spark.
11 Beaumont Drillers 1-0 A probably 2-0 team can’t break the top 10? See the Greyhounds comment.
12 Sioux Falls Storm 0-0 Middle of the pack. Same old Storm.
13 Tri-City Diesel 0-0 Can the Diesel finally pull themselves out of mediocrity?
14 Bismarck Roughriders 0-1 With their qb woes and porous defense, my pollsters were generous putting them at 14.
15 Lexington Horsemen 0-0 Time will tell, but can they hope to compete with Tennessee and Ohio Valley?
16 Houma Bayou Bucks 0-0 What a difference a year makes.
17 Austin Rockers 0-0 Who?
18 Fort Wayne Freedom 0-0 They have the local backing, but do they have the ability to produce?
19 Sioux City Bandits 0-1 Offense, defense and special teams need work. Uh-oh.
20 Evansville Bluecats 0-0 Welcome to the NIFL.
21 Oklahoma Crude 0-0 Are they ready to step out of the NIFL cellar?
22 Myrtle Beach Stingrays 0-0 They have potential, but need to prove it.
23 Show Me Believers 0-0 Their name says it all, doesn’t it?
24 Tupelo FireAnts 0-1 10 points? On the bright side, they only gave up 33.

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