Baltimore Mariners Coach Chris Simpson Resigns

The Baltimore Mariners have announced that Chris Simpson has resigned his position as Head Coach. Coach Simpson in a team issued press release indicated that he will pursue other opportunities for his family. Coach Simpson led the Baltimore Mariners to a undefeated 16-0 record capped with the 2010 AIFA Championship. Simpson led the Mariners to back to back playoff seasons and has a wide range of experience in indoor football. An excellent teacher and motivator, he will not have a difficult time in securing his next coaching job. It was a pleasure to compete against Coach Simpson over the past few seasons and I would like to wish him and his family all the best in his future endeavors.

New Arrival

I would like to announce the arrival of the newest addition of Team Liotta. My wife and I welcomed our daughter Liliana Rose into our family today. Mother and Daughter are doing very well and I would like to thank everyone who has passed along their prayers and well wishes. – SL

From Indoor Football to the NFL

I just wanted to pass along a tremendous story of hard-work, dedication, and never giving up on your dream. The Green Bay Packers recently signed a player Maurice Simpkins who played last season with the IFL’s Green Bay Blizzard. You can read the tremendous story of his journey from the Indoor Leagues to the NFL here . It is a tremendous story and is a tribute to the Green Bay Blizzard organization and coach Rik Richards who does an excellent job year in and year out. This story illustrates why athletes continue to play this game at the professional indoor and arena level, for an opportunity to continue to receive film to showcase their talents to a higher level. Often players will sit around and wait for an opportunity to come to them or expect their agents or coaches to get them an opportunity. This article reinforces the point that this players tireless efforts landed him an opportunity to showcase himself at the games highest level.

Indoor/Arena Football Records Through 2010 Season

Baltimore Mariners public relations director John Wolfe has compiled a list of All-Time Indoor & Arena Football records through the completion of the 2010 season. The top 10 in several categories are listed below, and the Tampa Bay Storm despite losing Arena Bowl XXIII on Friday night remain the winningest program in the history of Indoor and Arena Football.

Most Regular Season Wins (Through 2010)
Team Wins
Tampa Bay Storm 192
Orlando Predators 168
Arizona Rattlers 158
San Jose Sabrecats 136
Tulsa Talons 133
New York Dragons 116
Indiana Firebirds 112
Sioux Falls Storm 111
Omaha Beef 107
Rock River Raptors 104
Quad City Steamwheelers 104

Most Playoff Wins (Through 2010)
Team Wins
Tampa Bay Storm 23
Orlando Predators 23
Arizona Rattlers 21
Sioux Falls Storm 17
San Jose Sabrecats 15
Billings Outlaws 15
Massachusetts Marauders 13
Spokane Shock 13
Tulsa Talons 11
Peoria Pirates 11

Most Total Wins (Through 2010)
Team Wins
Tampa Bay Storm 215
Orlando Predators 191
Arizona Rattlers 179
San Jose Sabrecats 151
Tulsa Talons 144
Sioux Falls Storm 128
New York Dragons 124
Indiana Firebirds 120
Billings Outlaws 116
Rock River Raptors 111

Most Championships (Through 2010)
Team Championships
Tampa Bay Storm 5
Sioux Falls Storm 4
Massachusetts Marauders 4
San Jose Sabrecats 3
Billings Outlaws 3
Louisiana Swashbucklers 3
Spokane Shock 3
Orlando Predators 2
Arizona Rattlers 2
Tulsa Talons 2
Quad City Steamwheelers 2
Peoria Pirates 2
Ohio Valley Greyhounds 2
Mississippi Fire Dogs 2

Most Seasons (Through 2010)
Team Seasons
Tampa Bay Storm 23
Orlando Predators 19
Arizona Rattlers 18
Indiana Firebirds 15
San Jose Sabrecats 14
New York Dragons 14
Cleveland Gladiators 13
Sioux Falls Storm 11
Billings Outlaws 11
Grand Rapids Rampage 11
Omaha Beef 11
Arkansas Diamonds 11
Wyoming Calvary 11
Sioux City Bandits 11

Arena Football League to Return to Pittsburgh in 2011

It appears that the Arena Football League will place an expansion team in the Pittsburgh market for the 2011 season. According to published reports by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review the team will soon announce its ownership group which includes former Pittsburgh Steeler Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann. The team would play its games at the new state of the art Consol Energy Center and would be one of four planned expansion teams for the AFL. The league has announced the Kansas City Brigade, Philadelphia Soul, and San Jose Sabercats will return to play in 2011. The AFL in its first year back from a one-year hiatus, will hold Arena Bowl XXIII featuring the Spokane Shock and the Tampa Bay Storm live Friday night at 8:00pm on the NFL Network. The restructuring of the league, and the elimination of the players union has allowed the AFL to keep operating costs down for their ownership groups. The 2010 AFL player salaries were reported to be $400.00 per game with 3 “marketing players” receiving a salary of $1,000.00 per game, and the coaching staff budgets were set at $100,000.00 for the entire staff in 2010. This was accomplished while maintaining a high quality, competitive product on the field, and continuing the fan interaction that the AFL had developed over the past 23 seasons. I look forward to seeing the Arena Football League return to Pittsburgh for 2011, and it places us in the unique position in Erie of having two AFL franchises (Pittsburgh, Cleveland) within 2 1/2 hours driving distance.

Reading Express Moving to IFL

It has been widely reported by several media outlets that the Reading Express are leaving the American Indoor Football Association and joining the Indoor Football League. The Reading Eagle did an in-depth article on the situation here . The Express have planned a 2:00pm press conference today to announce their intentions along with the formal introductions of their new Head Coach Chris Thompson and General Manager Tim Glase. The 2010 season was the first time in five years that the Express failed to make the post-season. I am very saddened to see the Express leave the AIFA as they were a cornerstone franchise of the league over the past 5 years. We have enjoyed many battles with the Express over the years, and were always treated in a first class and professional manner by their front office and ownership.

An interesting side-note on all of this is that the Express were almost named …….The Reading RiverRats?

Logo that was created by Skye Design Studios but never used by the Reading Express franchise. The logo was later altered and adopted by the Pittsburgh (Erie) RiverRats

Yes it is true, in 2006 AIFL President Andrew Haines had several logos to be reviewed for consideration for the new franchise that was being placed in Reading. One of those logos was the Reading RiverRats logo which is shown below. The RiverRats logo eventually lost out to Express branding and the rest is history. The RiverRats logo would later be reworked by Haines and used in the debut of the Pittsburgh RiverRats at a Press Conference in August of 2006. The RiverRats later moved to Erie and played at the Tullio Arena from 2008-2009.

Arena Bowl XXIII Match-up

The match-ups are set for the Arena Bowl XXIII which will be televised live Friday at 8:00pm EST on the NFL Network. The Spokane Shock 60-57 winners over the Milwaukee Iron will host the Tampa Bay Storm for the 2010 Arena Bowl Championship. The Storm advanced to the title game by holding off the Orlando Predators by a score of 56-55 as Predators kicker Carlos Martinez missed a potential game winning last second field goal as time expired. Prediction: I felt when the AFL playoffs began that Tampa Bay could be a sleeper team in the playoffs. The “Lord of the Rings”, Tampa Coach Tim Marcum will add another ring to his collection – Tampa Bay Storm 62- Spokane Shock 53.

High School Football season has started in Erie and around the state of Pennsylvania. I want to wish all of the local players and coaches a productive and healthy Training Camp, and best of luck during the 2010 High School Football Season.

Flashback Friday- Freeze TV Spot

This weeks edition of “Flashback Friday” features a TV Spot from the Erie Freeze. This commercial featuring LB Roosevelt Benjamin was shown on local Erie Television during the 2007 Erie Freeze Season. The 2007 season was the final season in Erie for the Freeze as they finished the season with a 1-13 record.

Flashback Friday – Erie Freeze TV Commercial

Erie Storm Coaches Show

Leading up to to the 2011 season I will be hosting a weekly Coaches Show on UStream. The goal of the show will be to provide you with tremendous insight into our preparation and planning as we work to bring the 2011 Championship to Erie. We will review our previous game, preview our upcoming opponent, have special guests (players, coaches, staff) and even answer some fan questions. We may even have some episodes where we go on location and take you inside the film room or a practice session to give you a true behind the scenes look at our team. During the off-season I will attempt to have a show bi-monthly to update the fans on the formation of our 2011 roster and other exciting news regarding our franchise. The show can be viewed live on the front page of this website or by clicking the Coaches Show link at the bottom of the page. Archived shows can be viewed here . A full schedule will be posted at a later date, but the broadcast is tentatively planned for Thursdays at 7:00pm (Eastern).

Ask The Coach- Favorite NFL Team

With the NCAA/NFL season fast approaching I tackle an NFL question along with a preseason Super Bowl prediction. Keep the questions coming and I will attempt to answer as many as possible.

Question- Coach who is your favorite NFL Team. I figured it is probably the Steelers but just thought I would ask. Do you think they will win the Super Bowl this year.
TJ – Edinboro

Answer- Being born and raised in Pittsburgh I may be one of the few non-Steelers fans in the city. I am a Cincinnati Bengals fan and have been since I was a young boy. Growing up I enjoyed watching the way that the Bengals played the game with one of the most exciting offensive units in the NFL with Quarterback Boomer Esiason, Ickey Woods, and a group of great Wide Receivers. Their coach Sam Wyche was a true innovator with his no-huddle and sugar huddle and had such an impact on the game that the NFL incorporated rules to slow down the Bengals attack. I was very pleased with the season the Bengals had last year after a bunch of lean seasons, and with their recent addition of Terrell Owens to bolster the passing game I look for a big season in Cincinnati. As far as a Super Bowl prediction I will go with the Bengals in the AFC and the Chicago Bears in the NFC. Mike Martz is running the offense in Chicago and has the trigger-man in Jay Cutler to put up some serious points. With that said I am predicting the Bears to be the surprise team out of the NFC, and make it a Bengals vs. Bears Super Bowl match-up. Thank you for the question and keep them coming.- SL

Play of the Week- Rutherford to Dixon 30 Yard TD

Today’s edition of the Play of the Week features a Rod Rutherford to Denayne Dixon 30 yard touchdown pass from our game with the Reading Express on April 25, 2010. This was a key divisional match-up with the Express which we won 41-34 securing a 2-1 series lead over Reading during the 2010 season. This touchdown was a critical play in the game as we were able to score with only six seconds left in the first half to take the lead into the break. Dixon finished the game with 103 yards and three touchdowns.

Play of the Week- Rutherford to Dixon 30 Yard TD

AFL Weekend Playoff Roundup

The Arena Football League showcased their first round playoff games this weekend. The Spokane Shock defeated the Arizona Rattlers for the third time this season by a score of 57-49, spoiling the monster game by Arizona WR Rod Windsor who had 15 catches for 210 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Shock will host the Milwaukee Iron who knocked the banged-up Chicago Rush from the playoffs by a score of 64-54. Rush coach Mike Hohensee showed why he is one of the top coaches in Arena Football with the juggling act he was forced into this season as a result of injuries and players moving on to other opportunities. Many feel that the Rush had one of the top lineups in the AFL to start the season and if they could have kept it together would have competed for the championship in 2010. Milwaukee will travel to Spokane for an 8:00pm kickoff Thursday night that will be televised on the NFL Network.

Veteran coach Tim Marcum led the Tampa Bay Storm to an impressive 68-38 victory on the road over the Tulsa Talons. This will set the stage for a return of the Orlando Predators and WR Bobby Sippio to Tampa Bay only two weeks after they were involved in an alleged altercation with Tampa Bay fans. The Jacksonville Sharks were upset 73-69 by the 4th seeded Orlando Predators as Bobby Sippio caught his 6th touchdown of the game with 8.7 seconds left. Sippio played a monster role for the Predators in this game as the Jacksonville secondary were unable to contain him for most of the night especially in the redzone. The Predators will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Storm Saturday at 7:30pm.

Flashback Friday- Erie Freeze @ Johnstown Riverhawks 2005

This weeks edition of Flashback Friday features the inaugural 2005 American Indoor Football League contest between the Erie Freeze and the Johnstown Riverhawks. The Freeze were led to their first win in franchise history by QB David Dinkins as they posted a 48 – 27 victory on the road in Johnstown, PA. Erie exploded for a seventeen point lead to start the game and never looked back- sealing the game with several key defensive stops in the second half for Freeze head coach Mike Esposito. This game features many players who would go on to become household names in the AIFL/AIFA over the past five seasons. Riverhawks starting quarterback Chris Thompson is currently the Head Coach of the Reading Express, and Johnstown receiver Quenteen Robinson was recently named the Head Coach of the first year Johnstown Generals of the UIFL.

Flashback Friday- Erie Freeze @ Johnstown Riverhawks – 2005 AIFL Season

Ask The Coach- Open Tryouts

Today I will answer a question from one of our great fans in Erie, PA. I hope you enjoy this feature where I will answer questions submitted directly from our fans. There have been many outstanding questions submitted and I will attempt to personally answer as many of them as possible. One question each month will be selected as the “question of the month” and that fan will receive two tickets to a game of their choice in 2011. You may submit your question directly through this website by following the “ask the coach” link- Keep those great questions coming!

Ask The Coach – August 5, 2010

Question– Coach what do you and your staff look for when evaluating players at your tryouts and when are the tryouts scheduled for next year. – James F. – Erie, PA

Answer– Our open tryouts provide a tremendous vehicle for prospective players to catch the eye of our coaching staff. Although the bulk of our training camp roster is signed through our traditional recruitment methods we value the importance of our open tryouts. The open tryout provides an opportunity for players who may have been “under the radar” the opportunity to showcase their skills to play professional indoor football. Each season we sign several players from our open tryouts to our training camp roster, and we have had several of these players go on to make an impact on our squad over the past several seasons. We get some tremendous local talent at our tryouts and our coaching staff enjoys looking for the true “diamond in the rough” at these workouts. At one of our open workouts players are timed in the 40 & 10 yard dash, pro agility, and put through a variety of position specific drills. The workout concludes with several team periods where we can evaluate how well select players can absorb coaching and fundamental work. Our tryouts usually last about two and one half hours. Our tryout schedule will be finalized over the next several weeks and we are planning to have our first open workout in late September 2010 or early October 2010. Stay tuned to this blog or for complete details on our upcoming open tryouts. – SL

AFL Suspends 2 Players for Altercation with Fans

August 4, 2010

In response to an unfortunate incident the Arena Football League has issued suspensions to Orlando’s Bobby Sippio and Julius Wilson for their involvement in an altercation with fans in Saturday night’s game. Wilson and Predators wide receiver Bobby Sippio were ejected late in the second quarter of their 75-60 victory Saturday night after entering the St. Pete Times Forum stands and getting into an alleged altercation with several fans. It was reported that Sippio had attempted to give a ball to Julius Wilsons father who was subsequently attacked and knocked to the ground by other spectators to get the football. This prompted Sippio and Wilson to come to his fathers defense and prompted the actions that ensued. It has been reported that Wilson struck a fan during the altercation by several media outlets. The AFL has suspended Wilson for 6 games and a monetary fine, and Sippio was suspended one game and fined. Sippio has appealed his suspension to the league and is expected to play in the Predators playoff game this Friday night. AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz issued the following statement in response to the incident; “The AFL apologizes to their fans for the regretful and unacceptable actions of two of its players during a game this past Saturday. It is not acceptable for our players to enter the stands at anytime during a game, no matter the circumstances.”

The intimacy of the indoor/arena game provides fans with a tremendous experience each week and is part of what makes the game unique. There is a line that simply can not be crossed between fan and player and unfortunately I have witnessed to a lesser extent situations similar to this in the past. It is never a positive situation when a player enters the stands or when a fan attacks a player on the field or throws objects at players on the field or bench area. Both parties must accept responsibility and respect the boundaries that exist between player and fan. Most leagues now including the AFL have adopted rules prohibiting players from leaving the bench area for any reason.

Orlando Predators Altercation with Fans

Play of the Week- Tommie Weatherspoon Int Return for TD

August 3, 2010

In this weeks edition of the Play of the Week we have an interception return for a touchdown by the Erie Storm defense vs. the Baltimore Mariners. Erie Storm linebacker Tommie Weatherspoon takes the interception from Mariner quarterback E.J. Nemeth 10 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half. In 8 games played in 2010, Weatherspoon had 23.5 total tackles and 2.5 sacks from the mack linebacker position.

Play of the Week – Interception Return by Tommie Weatherspoon

AIFA All-Star Ballot

August 2, 2010

The 2010 American Indoor Football Association season has come to a conclusion, and it is now time for the league to select their All-Star Teams. I am not sure what this process entails however in past seasons the head coaches, assistant coaches, and owner/general manager were given a ballot to select the respective All-Star teams in their divisions. I have compiled my own un-official Eastern Conference All-Star Ballot for the 2010 season. When selecting an All-Star team I consider several factors including statistics, impact the player has had on the success of his team overall, and the impact the player had in games played against our team. I try to weigh all of these factors together to select the best players possible, and it is a very difficult job because of all of the outstanding talent in the AIFA. Please remember that I can not vote for my own players, and I certainly feel that several members of our 2010 Erie Storm team are worthy of league All-Star recognition.

QB- E. J. Nemeth- Baltimore Mariners
RB- Isaiah Greer – Baltimore Mariners RB- Eugene Goodman- Harrisburg Stampede
OL- Nyere Aymaitre- Harrisburg Stampede
OL-Konstatinos Kosmakos- Baltimore Mariners
OL-Randall Bennett – Harrisburg Stampede
WR-Kevin Marion- Harrisburg Stampede WR- Scorpio Brown- Baltimore Mariners
WR-Jay Jackson- Richmond Raiders WR- Keith Stokes – Harrisburg Stampede
DL-Fearon Wright- Baltimore Mariners
DL-Dayon Benson- Reading Express
DL-Melik Brown- Baltimore Mariners
LB- Adam Goloboski – Baltimore Mariners LB-Mike Woodhouse- Harrisburg Stampede
DB-Jeremy Gray- Harrisburg Stampede DB- Jerome Mann- Richmond Raiders
DB- Richard Johnson- Baltimore Mariners DB- Armar Watson – Baltimore Mariners
Special Teams
PK- J.R. Cipra- Baltimore Mariners
KR- Elliott White- New Jersey Revolution
All Purpose- Walter Ford – Fayetteville Guard
Front Office
Coach of the Year- Chris Simpson – Baltimore Mariners
Executive of the Year- Greg Justice- GM- Baltimore Mariners

Arena Football League Playoff Match-ups Set

August 1, 2010

The Arena Football League playoffs are now set. In the American Conference the Jacksonville Sharks will host the Orlando Predators in the AFL Game of the week, and the Tulsa Talons will host the Tampa Bay Storm. The Storm with veteran coach Tim Marcum could be a sleeper team in the playoffs, however the Jacksonville Sharks have looked very impressive all season. In the National Conference the Spokane Shock will host the Arizona Rattlers and the Chicago Rush will visit the Milwaukee Iron. The Chicago Rush feature a name who may be familiar to some AIFA fans in WR Syvelle Newton who formerly played very briefly for the Harrisburg Stampede. Newton was signed to the the quarterback during the teams initial season and was the starting quarterback for the pre-season All-Star Classic. Newton struggled in that game at QB and was later replaced by A.J. Roque who led the Stampede to the second half comeback victory over the AIFA All-Stars.