Flashback Friday- 2008 Playoff Game vs. Reading Express

July 30, 2010

Flashback Friday- 2008 AIFA Playoffs Erie RiverRats @ Reading Express

Today we will flashback to the 2008 AIFA first round playoff game with the Reading Express. Both teams entered the game with 10-4 records however the Express earned the right to host the playoff game based on their 2-1 regular season advantage. We were faced with the task of playing a very tough opponent on the road and in-front of the loud and boisterous Reading Express fans. Our players did a tremendous job of focusing on the road and we had ourselves in a position to win the game in the last minute. J.R. Cipra kicked a field goal with under 55 seconds to go to give us a 57-54 lead. The final minute of this game was probably one of the wildest and most controversial in league history. At the end of the day the Express escaped with a hard fought 67-57 victory. This was a very hard played and emotional game for both sides and I am constantly reminded by fans who were in attendance that it was one of the best games they had ever witnessed. This is a game that many Erie fans did not have the opportunity to view since it was on the road and not broadcast on local television. I hope you enjoy these scoring drive clips from the game. Stay posted for a future blog where I will post the final action packed minutes of this game in its entirety.

2008 AIFA Playoffs – Erie @ Reading – Selected Scoring Drives

Former Erie Invaders Coach Named SIFL Commissioner

July 29, 2010

Former Erie Invaders Head Coach Gary Tufford has been named the Commissioner of the Southern Indoor Football League. Tufford brings over 30 years of professional football experience to the SIFL as an executive, coach and player, with 20 of those years involved with indoor football. He has previously served as the Executive Director of the Indoor Football League, Commissioner of the World Indoor Football League, and Executive Director of the American Indoor Football League. Tufford led the Erie Invaders to a 6-8 record during the 2000 season. The SIFL will be entering its third season in 2011, the Columbus Lions formerly of the American Indoor Football Association won the 2010 SIFL Championship. For more information on Gary Tufford and the Southern Indoor Football League visit http://www.southernifl.com

Jovon Johnson Named CFL Special Teams Player of the Week

July 28, 2010

Erie native and former Erie RiverRats Defensive Back Jovon Johnson has been named the CFL Special Teams Player of the Week. Johnson electrified the home crowd with an 83-yard punt return touchdown late in the fourth quarter that helped the Bombers beat the Edmonton Eskimos 47-21. This game was shown live on the NFL Network as the CFL game of the Week. Johnson also had a 100 plus yard interception return for a TD called back on a roughing the qb call late in the 4th quarter. This is Johnson’s fourth Special Teams Player of the Week award as he previously won for his efforts last year in weeks 14, 15 and 17. Johnson was named one of the top 50 players in the CFL prior to the 2010 season, and the Blue Bombers are currently 2-2 on the season. For more information on Jovon visit http://www.jovonjohnson2.com/

Jovon Johnson Returns a Punt for a Touchdown

Jovon Johnson Erie RiverRat Highlights

2010 AIFA Bowl IV Recap

July 26, 2010

Congratulations to the Baltimore Mariners on defeating the Wyoming Cavalry 57-42 to win the 2010 AIFA Championship. I want to give credit to the entire Mariners organization on an undefeated 2010 season. Here are a few random thoughts on the championship game; The crowd at 1st Mariner was solid, I would guess a legit 4,500 or so in attendance….The Mariners gameday staff and General Manager Greg Justice did an excellent job with the in-game presentation, there was a lot of activity going on during the game and it was all done in a very slick and professional manner….Tremendous job by the Mariners coaching staff sticking with their game-plan throughout the contest and capitalizing on Wyoming’s mistakes….Excellent game-plan coming into the game by Wyoming coach Dan Maciejczak they were in a position to win the football game throughout….Wyoming receiver Jasonus Tillery was a force on Sunday with 170 yards and 5 touchdowns and the Mariners secondary consistently struggled to cover him down the field….The Mariners defensive line was quiet early but came up big with several key sacks of Wyoming QB Matt Strand during the second half….Baltimore Kicker J.R. Cipra was a deciding factor in the game with a big field goal before the half to cut the Wyoming lead to seven points and drilling several uno’s to back the Wyoming offense up….Many fans have blasted the Wyoming strategy of not using a kicker and going for two throughout the game and this strategy backfired because the Cavalry did not convert on several key 2-pt conversions in the 2nd half, however had the Cavalry been able to convert on a few more of these it could have been a different game, an example of this was early in the game when Wyoming was up 16-6 after Cipra missed his first PAT had Wyoming been able to score again and add the 2pt Conversion they would have stretched their lead to a three score margin….With that said it will be interesting to see if Wyoming adds a kicker to the mix for next season….The Indoor Football off-season has now begun as each of the respective leagues have completed their Championship Games.

Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor

2010 AIFA Bowl IV Broadcast

July 25, 2010

The 2010 AIFA Championship Game between the Baltimore Mariners and the Wyoming Cavalry is set for today. The culmination of the 2010 season will occur at 4:00pm EST from the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, MD. Baltimore is looking to finish the first undefeated season in league history with their first ever championship; while the Cavalry will be looking to erase the sting of two consecutive AIFA Championship game losses. I will have a complete wrap-up following Sunday’s game.

Click Here for the Live Broadcast of the AIFA Championship Game Sunday July 25, 2010 4:00pm Eastern

AIFA Bowl IV Video Preview- Final Predictions

July 24, 2010

The final AIFA Bowl IV Preview Video is complete and provides a an overall review of the game and provides a prediction on the final score. I hope that you enjoyed the video blogs leading up to this game between two outstanding teams. Our fans in Erie can look forward to seeing further video blogs as we get closer to the 2011 season and during the regular season as I will give you an insiders look at how we are building our team to compete for the 2011 Championship. I again want to thank everyone who has visited the site and all of the great questions and feedback we have received from our fans. I encourage you to continue to check this site daily for all the latest information.

AIFA Bowl IV Preview- Final Predictions

AIFA Bowl IV Video Preview- Part 4

July 21, 2010

The Baltimore Mariners had one of the most efficient passing games in the AIFA in 2010. In the AIFA Championship Game they will have to contend with an opportunistic and physical group of defensive backs from the Wyoming Cavalry. This should be a tremendous match-up on the field, and I hope you enjoy the video blog breakdown of these two exceptional units. Keep checking the blog all week as we will have a breakdown of the special teams units, and an overall breakdown and prediction video still to come. I would also like to congratulate Chris Thompson who was named the Head Coach of the Reading Express today. Chris served as an assistant for the Express for 3 seasons before taking over as the interim Head Coach for the final four games of 2010.

Baltimore Pass Offense vs. Wyoming Cavalry Defense

AIFA Bowl IV Video Preview- Part 3

July 20, 2010

Today I continue with my preview of the 2010 AIFA Championship Game with an look at the Wyoming Cavalry Passing Game vs. the Baltimore Mariners Pass Defense. Both units ranked among the leaders in most AIFA statistical categories during the 2010 season. This will be a tremendous chess match between Mariners Defensive Coordinator Steve Gaunt and Wyoming Head Coach Dan Maciejczak. I hope you enjoy the video and keep checking the blog daily for the latest news and updates.

AIFA Bowl IV Preview- Wyoming Cavalry Pass Offense

AIFA Bowl IV Preview- Baltimore Mariners Pass Defense

Columbus Lions Win 2010 SIFL Championship

July 19, 2010

I want to thank everyone for visiting the site, we have had a tremendous amount of traffic here over the past week. I urge you to continue to visit the blog each day for the latest updates, and please take the time to enter your email on the right hand side of the page to receive notification of the latest updates. I have received some outstanding questions submitted from fans, and I will get to answering those in the near future.

Congratulations to the Columbus Lions on winning the 2010 SIFL Championship with a dominating performance over the La. Swashbucklers. Columbus coach Jason Gibson is one of the top coaches in the game, and his coaching staff do a tremendous job each season. On Saturday night the Billings Outlaws captured their second straight IFL Championship by defeating the Sioux Falls Storm 43-34 in what was a tremendous game between two outstanding teams.

AIFA Bowl IV Video Preview- Part 2

July 18, 2010

Today we have the second in a series of previews of the 2010 AIFA Championship Game between the Baltimore Mariners and the Wyoming Cavalry on Sunday July 25th at First Mariner Arena in Baltimore, MD. These two previews will take you inside the film room to examine the Mariners Run Game and Pass Protection units vs. the Wyoming Cavalry defensive front five. Hope you enjoy the video’s and continue to check the blog all week for future updates.

Baltimore Mariners Running Game vs. Wyoming Cavalry Defensive Front

Baltimore Mariners Pass Protection Unit vs. Wyoming Defensive Front

AIFA Bowl IV Video Preview – Part 1

July 17, 2010

Today we have the first in a series of video previews leading up to the 2010 AIFA Bowl IV on Sunday July 25 at First Mariner Arena in Baltimore. I will take you inside the film room to analyze these two outstanding franchises and illustrate some of the key strengths and weaknesses of each individual unit. This preview will not be appearing on “ESPN” or “ESPN the Ocho” any time soon, but I hope that you find the video enjoyable and informational.

Wyoming Run Game/Pass Protection Unit vs. Baltimore Defensive Front

IFL & SIFL Championship Games Set for this Weekend

July 16, 2010

There are two indoor football championship games on tap for this weekend. They are both going to be webcast for free on the net, and both should be good games. The SIFL Championship between the Columbus Lions and the Louisiana Swashbucklers is set for Sunday July 18, 2010 at 6pm (eastern). The IFL will hold its second United Bowl Championship game featuring the Sioux Falls Storm vs. the Billings Outlaws on Saturday at 9pm (eastern). The game will be hosted at the SportsPlex in Billings, which has served as the home field for the Outlaws throughout the playoffs after their home arena had its roof torn off by an F2 Tornado. It is absolutely amazing how the Outlaws from an operational standpoint have been able to transform their practice facility into a site that will host the league championship.

Click Here to Watch the IFL Championship Game Saturday July 17, 2010 at 9:00pm Eastern

Click Here to Watch the SIFL Championship Game Sunday July 18, 2010 at 6:00pm (Eastern)

Flashback Friday- Erie Invaders 2000 Season

July 16, 2010

Flashback Friday- Erie Invaders
I have uploaded a few vintage clips of the Erie Invaders vs. Bismark Blaze from the 2000 IFL Season. It is fun to take a look at how the game has progressed over the past decade; from the style of play, the quality of player, and the uniforms. Enjoy this brief clip including a halftime interview with Invaders Coach Gary Tufford, and unfortunately for Erie a touchdown drive by the Blaze. The Invaders were defeated by the Blaze in this home contest as they struggled to move the football and had a difficult time in stopping the powerful Bismark running game. The game features several coaches currently serving as Head Coaches in the IFL. Bismark Blaze Head Coach Collins Saunders is currently the Head Coach of the Colorado Ice, and Blaze Defensive Coordinator Rik Richards is the Head Coach of the Green Bay Blizzard. Video Clip is courtesy of the Image Sports Network http://www.imagesportsnetwork.tv


July 15, 2010

The AIFA Championship Bowl IV is scheduled for Sunday July 25 at First Mariner Arena in Baltimore. Over the next week I will give my situational analysis comparing these two squads leading up to this great match-up for the AIFA Title. We had the pleasure of competing against this outstanding Mariners squad this year and spent time reviewing film of the Wyoming Cavalry during the 2010 season. I will attempt to deliver tremendous insight on these two talented teams leading up to next weeks game. You can look forward to breakdowns of the following key match-ups over the next week.

Saturday July 17th
Wyoming Running Game/Pass Protection Unit vs. Baltimore Defensive Front
Sunday July 18th
Baltimore Running Game/Pass Protection Unit vs. Wyoming Defensive Front
Monday July 19th
Wyoming Passing Game vs. Baltimore Defensive Coverages
Wednesday July 21st
Baltimore Passing Game vs. Wyoming Defensive Coverages
Thursday July 22nd
Special Teams Analysis
Saturday July 24th
Team History & Analysis/ Coaching Philosophy/ Predictions

Billings Outlaws QB Chris Dixon

July 14, 2010

In an example of how volatile and unpredictable things can be at this level of professional indoor football I give you the case of Billings Outlaws QB Chris Dixon. For those of you who have possibly been living under a rock for the last few years, Chris Dixon has established himself as one of the premier Quarterbacks in the indoor game. He is a perennial All- League , MVP Candidate, and currently has the Outlaws ready to face off with the Sioux Falls Storm in search of their second consecutive IFL Championship. Well it seems the week of the biggest game of the season Dixon has decided to pull a sort of LeBron James and declare himself a free agent after the season. Essentially every player in indoor football is a free agent after the season, so that in itself was not a shocking revelation. Also if every team in the league is playing by the rules; the pay scale for each player is the same. What some consider shocking about the announcement was that it occurred during the week of the championship game. It appears that he also has a planned press conference to announce his intentions later in the year. You can not fault Dixon for planning to explore his options for next season as the UFL and AFL would certainly mean a higher payday, and I can respect his decision to see what opportunities exist; however the timing of the announcement the week of the championship game is unfortunate. Dixon makes his point clear that he is not unhappy in Billings, but he feels the need at this point in his career to explore other options. He has certainly earned this right over the past several years with his on-field play. The Billings Outlaws organization is one of the best in professional indoor football, and I am sure they will do what is necessary to bring back their on-field leader for 2011. It is possible however that fans of the Outlaws, and of Indoor Football may be watching the end of an era on Saturday night.

You can listen to the full interview with Chris Dixon Here

Chris Dixon Highlights – Provided By VidSwap

Play of the Week- Phil Tillman Interception Return

July 13, 2010

Today’s Play of the Week is Defensive Lineman Phil Tillman’s interception return for a touchdown in the playoff game vs. the Harrisburg Stampede. The University of Pittsburgh product had 10.5 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 5 tackles for a loss, and one fumble recovery during the 2010 AIFA regular season.

Indoor Football Championship Game Previews

July 12, 2010

The American Indoor Football Association title game is set; The Baltimore Mariners (15-0) will host the Wyoming Calvary (14-1) for the 2010 championship on July 25, 2010 at First Mariner Arena in Baltimore. The Mariners secured the Eastern Conference Championship by defeating the Harrisburg Stampede by a score of 63 to 15, continuing their undefeated campaign. In Western Conference action the Wyoming Calvary punched their 3rd straight AIFA Championship game ticket with a 57-37 win over the San Jose Wolves in a contest that was not as close as the score indicates. Wyoming was dominant in this game, forcing the Wolves into early turnovers that led to an early double digit lead that the Cav’s would not relinquish. I will preview the 2010 AIFA Championship game in further detail in an upcoming post.

Championship games were set over the weekend in the Southern Indoor Football League and the Indoor Football League.

The Billings Outlaws and QB Chris Dixon will host the Sioux Falls Storm in the 2010 United Bowl

In IFL action, the Sioux Falls Storm defeated the Wichita Wild (52-34) while the Defending United Bowl Champion Billings Outlaws downed the Arkansas Diamonds (53-42). In the SIFL the Columbus Lions (9-3) will host the Louisiana Swashbucklers (6-6) for the championship. Columbus secured home-field for the title game after the Swashbucklers upset the top seeded Albany Panthers 41-36 on Saturday in Albany, GA.

Godfather of the Run and Shoot Offense

July 10, 2010

If you are a fan of the wide-open pass oriented game that we see each week in Arena/Indoor football, College Football, NFL, CFL, and High School Football; you owe a debt of thanks to the man known as “Mouse”. Darrel “Mouse” Davis regarded as the godfather of the Run and Shoot offense is responsible for re-defining the modern passing game. “Mouse” took a book that he read in the 1960’s authored by Glenn “Tiger” Ellison on the Run and Shoot and developed the modern version of the system that we see run by schools around the country and in the Arena Football League. Davis would take his system from the High School Level, Collegiate Level, Canadian Football League, United States Football League, and ultimately the National Football League.

Coach Darrel Mouse Davis Godfather of the Run and Shoot

His impact on the Arena/Indoor game is profound as he served as the Arena Football Leagues Director of Football Operations and designed the game play that we still see utilized today. Coach Davis developed the first Arena League Playbook and trained and recruited many coaches for the league (including current Tampa Bay Storm Coach Tim Marcum) during their informative years. He has coached for several Arena Football League teams including the Detroit Fury and the San Diego Riptide of the former AF2. Coach Davis has recently rejoined the coaching staff of the University of Hawaii to serve as the Wide Receivers coach for the 2010 season.

Every fan of the modern passing game needs to check out this documentary being released on the “History of the Run and Shoot Offense” and its developer Darrell “Mouse” Davis. The film is being produced by Roaring Mouse Productions LLC. in Portland Oregon, and is set to be released next year.
Visit the official website of the film at http://www.themousethatroarsmovie.com

Flashback Friday – Ryan Vena

July 9, 2010

Flashback Friday- Erie Invaders QB Ryan Vena

Flashback Friday will be a recurring feature where we will take a look a past teams, players, and coaches from Erie Professional Football. Today we start with the Erie Invaders. The Invaders played one season in the Indoor Football League and were coached by Gary Tufford who led the team to a (6-8) regular season record. The Invaders and the Indoor Football League featured many players and personalities who would go on to achieve great success in indoor and arena football.

The Erie Invaders Logo

Current Iowa Barnstormers (AFL) Starting QB Ryan Vena spent time at the Tullio Arena during the 2000 season with the Invaders. The Colgate University product got his start in indoor football as a backup to Erie starting quarterback Chris Weibel. Vena has put together one of the most prolific careers of any player at his position over the past decade in the Arena Football League and AF2. A perennial all-league performer; Vena has the distinction of passing for over 500 Touchdowns in his career, was selected as the 2007 Arena Cup MVP, and the 2007 AF2 Offensive Player of the Year. This roots to this tremendous career can be traced back to the Tullio Arena in 2000 with the Erie Invaders.

QB Ryan Vena talks with Erie Invaders Coach Gary Tufford during the 2000 season

Stay posted as I plan to upload some archived footage of the Erie Invaders from the 2000 IFL season in a future article. To catch up on what Ryan Vena is doing today visit http://www.ryan7vena.com

Western Conference Championship Game

July 8, 2010

Western Conference Championship Game
San Jose Wolves @ Wyoming Calvary

San Jose Wolves Coach Bennie King

The AIFA Western Conference playoff match-up features the San Jose Wolves visiting the Wyoming Calvary. The Calvary will be attempting to be the Western Conference representative in the AIFA Championship game for the third consecutive season. Wyoming (13-1) has been one of the top programs in Indoor Football over the past decade, and their Head Coach Dan Maciejczak is one of the best in the business. I have to admit while some fans don’t like it – I love his style of not kicking field goals and going for two after every score. Those things can hurt you in close games however, and I think it has played a role in their past championship game defeats. The San Jose Wolves put together a (9-5) expansion season with some of the most explosive talent in the league. Head Coach Bennie King has two AIFA Championships to his credit as a GM with the Lakeland Thunderbolts and the Florence Phantoms, and he will be looking to add his first as a Head Coach. The Wolves have been defeated 3 times by the Calvary including a 47-26 decision on July 4th. Don’t be fooled by this score however as the Wolves rested most of their starters in this one, while Wyoming used most of their regulars.

Prediction: If San Jose can slow down Matt Strand and the Wyoming passing attack they will have a chance in this one. If the Wolves and QB Omar Jacobs are operating on all cylinders they are a very dangerous and playoff experienced team.
Upset Special – San Jose Wolves 60 Wyoming Cavalry 56

AIFA Eastern Conference Championship Game

July 7, 2010

The AIFA will have it’s conference championship games this weekend. Lets take a look at each game and provide a preview and prediction for each.

Eastern Conference Championship Game
Harrisburg Stampede @ Baltimore Mariners

The Baltimore Mariners will look to continue their quest for undefeated when they host the Harrisburg Stampede at First Mariner Arena. Both teams are extremely well coached and have outstanding talent. The Mariners have been an efficient and dominating force this season and they have defeated the Stampede twice this season including a blowout victory on May 2nd at the First Mariner Arena. Both teams feature efficient passing attacks, strong running games, stout defensive play, and powerful kicking games. I feel that this game will come down to two important match-ups; Harrisburg’s Skilled WR Corp vs. Baltimore’s Ball Hawking DB’s, and the outstanding pass rush of Baltimore vs. Harrisburg’s pass protection unit. Harrisburg has been a different team offensively with the addition of QB Aries Nelson and he has some outstanding weapons to get the football to in space. Baltimore will not make this easy on the Stampede as their pass rush led by Fearon Wright and Melik Brown will pressure the Stampede offense all game long. If this one comes down to the kicking game it would feature a dual from two of the leagues top kickers Baltimore’s J.R. Cipra and Harrisburg’s Phil Marfuggi. I would give an edge in that battle to Cipra who is no stranger to making clutch game winning kicks. This game could hinge on the turnover battle and the Mariners have dominated this season by taking care of the football and forcing turnovers by their opponents.

Harrisburg will bring their A Game to the First Mariner Arena, unfortunately so will the Baltimore Mariners. The Mariners have put together as special season, and it would take a monumental effort from the Stampede to blemish Baltimore’s perfect season.
Baltimore Mariners 57 Harrisburg Stampede 48

You Make the Call

July 7, 2010

Being an official in professional indoor football is a difficult job. The speed and quickness of the game forces you to have to make split second decisions. I would like to share two clips with you from a recent AIFA Playoff Game. Both of these clips appear to be touchdowns – however they were ruled not touchdowns by the officiating crew on the field. Play #1 was the final play of the first half and was ruled a fumble on the field and was recovered by Harrisburg. A key rule to remember on this play is that the ground can not cause a fumble when impacted by an opposing player. This was a critical play prior to the end of the first half in what ended up as four point win for Harrisburg. Play #2 was in the 4th quarter and was ruled down at the one foot line. These appear to be touchdowns, or were they? You make the call- Have Fun!

You Make The Call

Play #1

Play #2

Play of the Day- Rod Rutherford to Eugene Baker

July 6, 2010

The play of the week will be a feature on the site that will highlight great individual plays or drives from current or past seasons. We hope you enjoy the Video.

The Current Play of the Week is a Highlight Reel Catch By Eugene Baker in the Playoff Game vs. Harrisburg Stampede

2010 Season Wrap-Up

Thank You to All of the Players, Coaches, and Staff Members Who Made our 2010 Season Successful. Most of All Thank You to Our Outstanding Fans in Erie, PA.


July 5, 2010

I hope that everyone had a safe and fun 4th of July. Bear with us while this website is constructed. I think this will be an outstanding tool to interact with our fans in the future. Stay posted to this section for random thoughts and key info as we build towards the 2011 season. This page will also have the most recent news on the team and upcoming player recruitment and tryouts for 2011. At some point in the next few weeks I will reflect on our 2010 season and outline our goals for 2011.