Warriors prepare for Indoor Bowl III

07/31/03 NIFL Fan Article by Philip J. Rogich, Syracuse, UT

Wednesday July 31st was the Warriors final home practice for the season. It was also the night the Warriors were presented with the Pacific conference championship trophy. Local television and about 200 fans were in attendance.

I had a chance to speak with coach Leslie about his feelings on the upcoming NIFL Bowl. He stated, "we are facing the best team we’ve seen all season." "They are very well coached, because they have no losses." He went on to say, "from what we’ve seen on film we have a real good crack at this team." "In our minds it’s not about Ohio Valley, it’s about us and how we’re playing." "We are not going to change anything, what you see is what you get."

The Ohio Valley Greyhounds are a 4.5 point favorite over the Warriors. They are 16-0 this year and 31-1 over the last two years. The Greyhounds have one of the best defenses in the league. The Warriors #1 ranked offense will be put to the test. The key to the game for the Warriors will be the play of there defense. The defense has really stepped it up in the play-offs.

For several Warrior players this game is a second chance. Cory Grow and Jason Quinn both played for Billings last year. Billings lost to Ohio Valley in the NIFL bowl last year. They both can’t wait to get another chance against the Greyhounds. Danny Ragsdale, while playing for Bismarck last year got knocked out last in the Pacific championship game. I asked him about making to the big game.

Danny stated, "It feels good to finally make it." "We’re going to take our 21 best guys to Wheeling and try to win this ball game." He continued by saying, "they have a great team and a great fan base." "It will be hard to beat them at home."

I then asked Ragsdale to compare this Utah team to the Bismarck of last year. "Utah is a lot better then Bismarck was and Utah has much more depth." "Both teams had to battle injuries." "Most people don’t realize that we (Utah) lost our best defensive back in Junior Baker and two of our best defensive linemen this year." Danny went on to praise his defense. "We have one of the most under rated defenses." "These guys have really come together over the past five games." "Also holding Omaha to only 24 points in three quarters was huge." He concluded by saying, "our defense has a plan, our success this week depends on how well they stick to it."

My last discussion of the night was with a fan that traveled to Wheeling last year for the NIFL bowl and will make the trip again this year. She stated, "last year the key was turnovers, Higgs threw about four interceptions and the Greyhound scored off of them." "I don’t think Danny will make those kinds of mistakes." She followed up by saying, "Billings had no running game last year, Bacon and White will be a big help to Utah’s chances." "Billings lost last year by only 3 points, Utah has a good chance."

Utah is once again the underdog. It’s a role they have played all year and have played it well. Nobody around the league thought the Warriors would make it this far. They have proved them all wrong. The question isn’t are the Warriors ready for the Greyhounds, they’ve been preparing for this moment all season. The real question is, are the Greyhounds ready for the WARRIORS??????

The game can be heard on 1280 AM (KZN).

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