NEWS

Roc Nation Rap Star Jim Jones Joins Roughriders

By Jay Luster

12/11/2017

“I came into this arena last year for the championship game and the energy was great. I thought maybe this is something I should try and get involved in.”

New Minority Owner & Rap Star Artist Jim Jones Showing His Roughriders Spirit

Jim Jones  

Since their undefeated 2016 season and thrilling APF Championship victory over the Florida Tarpons ended; the Richmond Roughriders have become the talk of the arena football world. Early in the off season rumors the team would move to the National Arena League seemed to be proven true when an announcement was made through social media. Not long after, the team announced it was passing up the NAL to join the new American Arena League. Created by a merger of several small leagues, the AAL is also the home of the Can-Am Champion Vermont Bucks and the SIF Champion Cape Fear Heroes. Realizing the team needed to improve if they wished to compete at the higher level, Owner Gregg Fornario said, “We’re a championship organization with a target on our back, and we’re embracing that challenge.”   Continue reading

Shootout at the Indoor Corral: Part 2

Recently On The Record featured an interview with Wichita Falls Nighthawks owner Drew Carnes. He had announced his team would go dark for 2018 and in our interview, he inferred it was unlikely the team would return in 2019, or ever. The article was entitled Shootout at the Indoor Corral, and it described, from Carnes perspective, the events leading up to his team folding. At the end of the article, I indicated that neither the CIF nor the IFL had responded to my queries. After the article broke I was contacted almost immediately by CIF interim Commissioner Ricky Bertz, who said he had not received any messages from me. He was correct; I did send an email inquiry to him but what I did not realize was I misspelled the address, and it was returned to me by the “mailer daemon” as an unknown address. For that I apologize to Mr. Bertz, and to you, the audience. Having said that, I am pleased to say he went On The Record about the situation, and I think you’ll find his perspective quite interesting. Continue reading

Shootout at the Indoor Corral

An interview with the owner of the Wichita Falls Nighthawks

by Jay Luster

11/01/2017

On July 25, 2017, I spoke with the owner of the Wichita Falls Nighthawks, Drew Carnes. I asked him, specifically at that time if the team was leaving the IFL for the CIF? Rumors had been swirling around the team, and the Sioux Falls Storm, for weeks, and he said the decision had not yet been made. About a month later, Sioux Falls announced their departure from the IFL and a couple of weeks after that the Nighthawks joined them in the CIF. For the Nighthawks, it was a matter of lowering their expenses. Carnes had said, “With my closest playing partner more than 580 miles away, My travel expenses were probably $50k more than anyone else in the IFL.” This isn’t an unfamiliar issue to arenafootballinsider.com readers because we’ve reported teams having difficulties with travel times, and expenses, many times in the past. What made this different was the contentiousness that immediately arose between the leagues and the teams. The same day the Nighthawks announced they had followed the Sioux Falls Storm from the IFL into the CIF, two teams defected from the CIF for the IFL, and lawsuits soon followed.

When I spoke with Mr. Carnes again on October 23rd, he had already announced the team would not be playing anywhere in 2018. The IFL claimed the Wichita Falls team did not provide correct legal notice of their intention to leave the league. Carnes said, “The bylaws they quoted on the IFL league affiliation contract I signed are not the bylaws they claim we’re playing under. One of the key areas says we had 15 days after the United Bowl to announce (our intentions of playing in the IFL or leaving for the 2018 season). They stopped including me in league meetings and proceedings within that 15-day period so to me that said they knew we were leaving. We knew we had until around Sept. 30th to have all the paperwork done, and we’d still be within their time frame.”  

When the CIF affiliation announcement was made, things quickly went awry. Carnes continued, “We announced at the press conference, we were going to the CIF and later that same day two teams (The Bloomington Edge and the West Michigan Ironmen) we thought we’re solidified in the CIF for 2018, left and went to the IFL. That was the first time I thought there’s something strange going on here. A few days later, I got notice from the IFL saying they considered my departure involuntary according to the bylaws. I started thinking okay; they were holding us hostage, and they’re making some sort of trade, and things are going to work out.” The IFL, before the return of Bloomington and West Michigan, were down to only five teams, and they had no intention of letting two of their winningest franchises bolt for a rival league. The CIF was upset because both the Edge, and the Ironmen had committed to them and after just one season in the league, chose to return to the IFL. Both leagues wanted the Sioux Falls Storm and the Nighthawks, and it was at this point things really began to fall apart.   Continue reading

The High Country Grizzlies Brain Trust

10/09/2017

By Jay Luster

High Country Grizzlies Braintrust

Team Owner Bryan Bouboulis

General Manager William Thompson

and Head Coach Josh Resignalo

From L-to R Owner Bryan Bouboulis, Appalachian State Head Coach Jerry Moore, Head Coach Josh Resignalo, and General Manager Harold Thompson

The Grizzlies recently left the NAL to join the AAL, what prompted the move?

Bryan Bouboulis: It was more or less getting back to what our original focus was when we formed the team.  The plan was to have regional rivalries with local travel and that didn’t happen with the NAL. When we originally formed the team, we were going to be part of the American Indoor Football League (AIF) but before that happened, the league folded.  We decided we would join the Arena Developmental League which ended up being the National Arena League. Through those transactions we went from being regional to a league which had teams all over the place like in Monterrey, Mexico, and Corpus Christi. The NAL wants to grow into a nationwide league and were talking to teams in New York and on the West Coast and that wasn’t what we envisioned for ourselves. We wanted to be in a league where our fans could travel a couple of hours and attend out away away games and the other team’s fans could come up here.  We didn’t want to travel more than six hours and unfortunately, with the Nal that was our shortest trip.

Owner Bryan Bouboulis

William Thompson: Bryan and I, are both of the same mindset because we are both prodigies of Jerry Moore the coach from App State.

How much does the move to the AAL reduce your traveling expenses?

(Laughter) Bryan: Six Figures.  That was the whole reason for the move. It’s a business and we had to make the decision based on it being a business

William: We’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm for the move regionally.  People calling us for season tickets and telling us how they feel this is going to create great rivalries. We believe it will. It’s really a community based business and the fans want to see other local teams.  We also feel it will good for business within the community.

Tell me about Boone?  It seems like a small town and an out of the way place for a professional sports team?

William: It’s a resort town with a skiing and a scenic town for the fall.  Spring Continue reading

Atlanta Havoc Co-Owner Chris Duffy

10/09/2017

Chris Duffy & The Atlanta Havoc

 

“I’m looking forward to getting down to Buford and helping make that a winning organization because that’s what it’s all about.”  

Chris Duffy

On Oct. 2, 2017, it was announced the AAL had placed an expansion team in the Buford City Arena in Buford,

Buford City Arena

Georgia. The Atlanta Havoc is operated by veteran arena football owner and NASCAR star Tim Viens. Veins is the owner of the Vermont Bucks, whose team won the Can-Am Championship in 2017. When that league merged with the Arena Pro Football League, and later the Supreme Indoor Football League to form the brand-new American Arena Football League, the Vermont native joined the league’s staff. One of the former APF teams who joined the league is the Florida Tarpons. Despite moving their operations north to Lakeland Florida, the team still only had one playing partner within an 8-hour drive of their home, the Georgia Doom. The Doom began life as a travel team in the National Arena League. Once their season concluded, they applied for membership in the upstart AAL. When their arena lease with the Macon Coliseum was completed, their affiliation was granted. Even with those teams relatively close to each other, the league realized it still needed another team within reasonable travel for the Tarpons. Thus, the Atlanta Havoc were born.   Continue reading

Stephanie Tucker, Amarillo Venom Owner and GM

10/05/2017

“Sometimes I’m like come on Nate, throw a couple of more touchdown passes!”

Stephanie Tucker

The Champions Indoor Football League came about as a merger between the Champions Professional Indoor Football League and the Lone Star Football League. One of the CIF’s founding members is a good-natured and strong-willed woman by the name of Stephanie Tucker. Her team, the Amarillo Venom, was initially founded by Randy Sanders. The Venom began life as the Amarillo Dusters in 2003, and played with the Intense Football League. Putting together a 13-3 record, they won their league championship in 2004. The next season the Dusters joined AF2 and against the higher-level, competition finished 8-8. They made the playoffs but then lost in the semi-finals to the eventual Arena Cup winning Memphis Xplorers. After AF2 fell apart, the fans of the Dusters urged the team to join the Indoor Football League instead of AF1. Because the AFL owned the Dusters nickname, the team decided to call itself the Venom. After two seasons in the IFL Sanders sold the team to Tucker, who became one of the founding members of the Lone Star Football League. The team, co-owned by her husband Toby and coached by Julian Reese, compiled a 22-16 record and won the league championship twice. After the 2014 season Tucker, along with Ricky Bertz and Darlene Jones, merged the LSFL with the Champions Indoor Football League to form  the CIF. Since then, the Venom has put together a record of 24-12 and made the playoffs each year. Though they haven’t won their championship yet, their W/L record has improved each season. While it isn’t unprecedented for a woman to own an indoor/arena football team, it is still a bit unusual. Even more unusual is to have the kind of stunning on-field success her team has had. Since becoming the owner seven years ago the team has had only one losing season. Counting their time in the LSFL, their overall record after seven seasons is 46-28. During that span, they’ve made the playoffs six times, made it to the championship game three times, and won it twice. Their 7-3 playoff record along with their overall .621 winning percentage places them among the elite of indoor/arena football . Only the IFL’s Sioux Falls Storm can boast a better record over a longer period of time than the Venom. When asked about her team’s success, she said, “You know what? We’ve been very blessed. I’m not going to lie. It’s been a nice ride.”   Continue reading

Undra “The Wrecking Ball” Hendrix

09/28/2017

Undra Hendrix is the latest free agent addition of the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks. Last season his hard nosed running while playing Fullback for the High Country Grizzlies drew rave reviews from every corner of the league. While the Grizzlies struggled with injuries at key positions all over the field, Undra showed up every game, moved the chains, and scored 12 TDs. Despite his team winning only three games,Hendrix performance was good enough for 2nd team All-NAL. After the season ended and he became a prized free agent, Hendrix entertained offers from the AAL, CIF, and the NAL. Deciding to remain in the NAL, he chose Lehigh Valley for, among other reasons, the chance to play with NAL MVP QB Warren Smith Jr.. Said Undra, “I had to decide what would be the best situation and for me. That meant having a QB. I’ve never won a championship, and so it was going to be Columbus or Lehigh. You know they’re both going to be right there at the end, but with Warren, I just felt like Lehigh was the better fit for me.”  

Despite his success running the ball indoors, as a student at Carrolton Ranchview High School in the northwest edge of Dallas, he played both Quarterback and Middle Linebacker. He said, “In my senior year, I did everything. The best time I had was playing MLB. Reading the keys and being the captain of the defense was pretty cool.” In his senior year, they switched him to the defensive line, and he said, “Putting my hand in the dirt and having to learn all of those pass rusher moves was kind of an adjustment.” After high school, Hendrix attended Division 3, Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. The coaching staff kept him on the defensive line and in his senior year, he broke the single-season sack’s record for DTs and was named as an All-American. While he admits he had a great season, He is quick to point out, “the team didn’t do as well as I’d have liked.” Continue reading

EDITORIAL               NAL –  AAL

09/20/2017

With the recent announcement of the Richmond Roughriders choosing the AAL instead of the NAL and more announcements possibly to follow, there has been a lot of contentious back and forth between NAL & AAL fans.  One of the things I’ve noticed is the incorrect assumption’s fans of both leagues are making. The following article will hopefully clarify the issues and explain the conceptual thinking behind the leagues. I think rivalries are a good thing for a sport as intense as 8 on 8 football, but it’s also helpful to take a dispassionate look at the facts. Continue reading

Wichita Falls MVP QB Charles McCullum

09/08/2017

The last few years I’ve had the pleasure of following the careers of several great QB’s.  One of them, Charles McCullum first came to my attention in June of 2014 when he led the Nashville Venom into the Richmond Coliseum and absolutely killed the Richmond Raiders.  The teams were together in the PIFL for two seasons and finished up 2-2 against each other.  While McCullum led the Venom to the league championship in 2015, he lost to Richmond in the 2014 playoffs.  After making the jump to indoor football McCullum has become the most dominant QB in the IFL winning the league MVP two years in a row. The Nighthawks are almost certainly moving to the CIF for 2018.  Whether it’s arena, or indoor, McCullum has thrived and has

become a fan favorite every where he’s traveled.  He agreed to give me a few minutes for an interview, but he was so much fun to speak with we ended up talking to each other for 45 minutes.  Below are the highlights of our conversation.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed interviewing him.  

Jay Luster (JL) You had a good season this year?

Charles McCullum (CL) Yes sir. First of all, I want to thank God for the season and for my coaches. It would not have been possible without them. My offensive line, my receivers all coming together on the same page and becoming consistent all at the same time helped to make this season special. Too bad it couldn’t click when we needed it to At the end.   Continue reading

Jake Metz: Working Towards the Dream

Almost all indoor/arena football players hope to play in the NFL. It’s a goal they’ve all had since they were little kids playing Pop Warner football. A few become stars, but most ply their trade in relative anonymity. With guys like Lincoln Kennedy, Tommy Maddox, and Rashied Davis, the league has always had a sprinkling of players who cut their teeth indoors before getting back outdoors. Jake Metz is working hard to make the Buffalo Bills. He’s had a couple of opportunities in the past with Detroit, and the Philadelphia Eagles, but this is really the first time he’s had a sustained opportunity for NFL coaches to get a long look at him among the highest quality competition. In 2016, with the Soul, he put up 7.5 sacks and was named First Team All-Arena, and AFL Defensive Lineman of the Year. His dominance on the defensive front was one of the reasons why his team won the Arenabowl. Now, with the Bills, Metz is getting his shot, and he’s doing everything he can to make the most of it.   

Speaking with Metz this past Wednesday, I found a man tightly focused on the tall task of making an NFL team. At first, he seemed reluctant to speak with me, but soon warmed up and mixed in bits of dry humor with his NFL rookie canned answers. You can’t blame the guy for being shy. With his professional future on the line, speaking with any reporter is probably the last thing he wanted to do. Having said that, he did speak with me and for that I am grateful.   Continue reading