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2018 IFL Standings
Team W L
Arizona Rattlers 9 2
Iowa Barnstormers 8 2
Sioux Falls Storm 8 3
Nebraska Danger 4 7
Green Bay Blizzard 2 8
Cedar Rapids Titans 1 10

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Barred from IFL, Edge plan to play as independent

Joe Deacon jdeacon@pantagraph.com

 

BLOOMINGTON — A ruling by an Iowa court has forced the Bloomington Edge to alter their upcoming indoor football season just weeks before the scheduled home opener at Grossinger Motors Arena.

Blocked from returning to the Indoor Football League, the Edge announced Tuesday they plan to play an independent schedule without league affiliation.

“We really want to focus on development and advancement for our players,” said Edge General Manager Charles Welde, comparing the plan to Notre Dame’s status as a college football independent.

 
However, the Champions Indoor Football league intends to proceed with legal action to block the Edge from playing at all in 2018.

“If the Bloomington Edge’s intention is to play an independent schedule, we’ve notified them that we will go back to court and stop them,” said CIF commissioner Ricky Bertz. “Per their signed agreement, they are prevented from playing indoor football, period, anywhere other than the CIF.”

Welde said Bloomington intends to play as many as eight games, ideally six at home, against other indoor clubs from the Midwest, including the West Michigan Ironmen. The Edge expect to start the season Feb. 25, as originally scheduled, and conclude in early June — without postseason play.

“Basically we can pick our own teams,” he said, touting the benefits of eliminating long road trips. “We can find teams that will help develop regional rivalries, which I think is important because now our fans can go to the (road) games. All of our first five (dates) are scheduled to stay the same.”

The Edge also announced Tuesday that John Johnson has agreed to return as head coach after Nick Ruud decided to step away. Ruud had been promoted to replace Ameer Ismail in November.

“I’m very excited to be back with the Edge,” Johnson said in a news release. “We were one of the best indoor football teams in the country my last season as the head coach here, and there is no reason to think we won’t be among the best again this year.”

The Edge, who opened training camp this week, went 7-5 in each of their last two seasons in the CIF. In September, the team announced its intention to return to the IFL, where they spent four seasons as an original member from 2009-12.

“The Edge continue to ignore the instructions on what they are allowed and not allowed to do,” said Bertz, whose 11-team league includes the Sioux City Bandits and the Quad City Steamwheelers, a Moline-based expansion team that anticipated a regional rivalry with Bloomington.

“It’s sad it had to come to this, but it was something we had to do. We had to protect our existing franchises. Unfortunately it’s the fans, sponsors and community that pay the price.”

In his ruling from Sioux City, Woodbury County District Court Judge Patrick Tott granted a temporary injunction Jan. 30 against the Edge and the Ironmen in a breach of contract lawsuit initiated by the CIF in December. 

“The CIF waited ... to do it, knowing it would be tough to get an appeal with the season so close,” said Welde. “It hasn’t gone to trial, but with the timing we don’t want to lose games. If we went to trial, we would have to push our start back and we didn’t want to do any of that. We’ve got to move on.”

 
According to the CIF, Bloomington and West Michigan signed contracts last July to remain in the league for the 2018 season. The clubs informed the league on Sept. 12 that they would not return and were announced as new members in the rival IFL the following day.

“This ruling is a landmark for the sport and industry in that it validates the legality and importance of League Affiliation Agreements to professional sports leagues,” Bertz said in a Monday news release on his league’s website. “This was a milestone for not only the CIF, but all teams and leagues.”

Issuing the injunction, Tott said evidence shows the owners of the IFL’s Arizona Rattlers “basically offered significant bribes” in attempting to lure existing CIF franchises and that the plaintiff league would likely win the suit.

He said in his decision, “A sports league cannot survive without a commitment from its member teams that they will honor their obligations to the league.”

Without Bloomington and West Michigan, the IFL is down to six franchises. Welde said the injunction prohibiting the Edge from joining the IFL is for one season and that the team will be “free and clear” to do so for 2019.

“I don’t think this is the end on the legal side; I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see some counter lawsuits from the IFL,” said Welde. “The bottom line is the two leagues should have merged in July when they had the opportunity. One league would’ve made sense, but egos got in the way and they couldn’t find common ground.”

RATTLER KNOCK OFF PERENNIAL CHAMPS TO WIN IFL UNITED BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP

by Jay Luster

2017 United Bowl
8 July 2017

The Arizona Rattlers have defeated the Sioux Falls Storm 60-51 to win their first United Bowl Championship Trophy. After a brief tie early in the first quarter, the visiting Rattlers held the lead for the entire game. While they moved the ball methodically with a nice mix of passes and runs it was RB Darrell Monroe who proved to be to much for the reigning champion Storm to handle with three touchdown runs. Sioux Falls, providing only sporadic pressure on Cody Sokol, held the Rattlers QB to just 7 completions on 12 attempts for 33 yards and 2 TD’s which helped them remain competitive. While his average yards per carry were low, aside from the TD’s it also accounted for a timely fourth down conversion to keep a scoring drive alive. The rest of the team added 17 more runs for another 28 yards. Lorenzo Brown, the Sioux Falls QB, on the other hand was under constant pressure from the Arizona defense all night. The D finished the night with 3 sacks, a forced fumble which resulted in a TD by defensive lineman Joshua Gordon several defended passes and a critical stop on a 2 point conversion attempt. The Storm makeshift offensive line had a difficult time holding off the continuously blitzing Rattlers defensive front, but it was obvious from the beginning the pressure bothered Brown. During Arizona’s dominating 2nd quarter, kicker Petre Sawyer missed an extra point attempt which held their scoring to 20 points instead of 21. That missing point is one of this things that drove the drama all evening.

Whatever adjustments Coach Kurtiss Riggs made at halftime worked as the Storm came out of the locker room on fire. Scoring 20 unanswered points to pull within 6, at the end of the third quarter Sioux Falls began to look like the team everyone had become accustomed to seeing for the last decade. The missed PAT loomed large because a TD would tie, and the extra point would give Sioux Falls the lead. With all the momentum, it seemed as if the reigning champions could possibly reel in their 7th in a row. The game turned on three plays, and three Sawyer FGs. In their own end of the field and needing about a yard, Arizona lined up for a FG attempt. Sioux Falls sniffed out the fake and shut it down. With first and ten inside the 20, Lorenzo Brown fumbled the ball which resulted in the Rattlers defensive TD. In the fourth Quarter, down by 8, the Storm elected to go for 2 after a TD which would have pulled them back to within 6 with plenty of time on the clock. They completed the play, but a penalty backed them up 10 yards. The next attempt failed, but an Arizona penalty gave them back the lost yardage and a third attempt at the conversion. The Rattlers rallied up and made the stop just short of the goal line, and it left Sioux Falls in a hole they ultimately couldn’t climb out of. United Bowl MVP, Arizona LB Justin Shirk’s timely sack late in the game gave Arizona the ball back in the Storm’s end of the field with under two minutes. While the Rattlers didn’t score on the drive, they maintained their 9 point lead and took valuable time off the clock which virtually clinched the game.

The Arizona Rattlers, along with other teams, defected from the AFL after last season. They began the season 4-4 looking very much unlike the team that had dominated the AFL. After being near or at the top of the AFL pecking order, Coach Kevin Guy figured out the IFL and then rattled off nine wins in a row to enter the playoffs hot. Coach Riggs of Sioux Falls understood his squad wasn’t the same team who had dominated the league for more than a decade. He knew Arizona planned on bringing the pressure and he was absolutely right. Arizona which relentlessly attacking with the blitz, required Sioux Falls to keep their RB in to block thereby taking away one of their biggest offensive weapons. That strategy exposed the weaknesses in Lorenzo Brown’s game. He has a somewhat elongated throwing motion which requires a clean pocket and even then his accuracy and decision making are spotty. On one play, he had a receiver open deep. Had he put some air under the ball and led the WR into the end zone it was an easy touch. Instead, he threw a line drive which, despite trailing by 2 yards, allowed the DB to bat it away. Unless he can overcome those types of mistakes, he will never develop into the championship caliber QB Sioux Falls fans have come to expect. Arizona has quickly become the dominant team in the league and there is no question they will build upon this success during the off season. Next year, everyone will want their shot at the newly crowned Champions, and you can bet Sioux Falls will be the team with the biggest gun.