Category Archives: IFL

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Todd Tryon on IFL’s current plans, lessons to learn

Indoor Football League Commissioner Todd Tryon had just gotten off of a conference call during the middle of weeks 1 and 2 of the 2020 season.

He was typing up the notes recapping the meeting during the NBA’s Jazz – Thunder game when the news started to break.

Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the NBA cancelled its season, and the rumors of the NHL doing the same came soon after – all in a matter of minutes.

It was a curve ball that the first-year commissioner had to adjust to.

“Our staff at that point was thinking, ‘We are going to play our games this weekend and re-convene on Monday,” Tryon said. “It’s crazy how the perspective was changing by the hour. That’s probably the most remarkable thing of everything going on.”

Tryon kept paying attention to the cancellations and held another conference call on Thursday.

It was then that the league decided it would postpone the rest of its games for the season, minus the pair of games scheduled for that weekend in California.

“Let’s get the games in that the arenas are allowing you to play this weekend, at that time,” Tryon said. “At that point we decided that we were going to postpone the season until further notice and kind of let this play out.”

So, the plan was to have Iowa and Oakland face off as well as Cedar Rapids and San Diego on the ensuing Saturday night.

As the weekend progressed, however, both games were cancelled and the IFL joined the other major leagues in America in putting a halt to the action.

“It’s kind of funny,” Tryon said. “As you look back at making these decisions, the most difficult ones to make (at the time) turned out to seem like pretty easy decisions. I was always following the path of what the NBA and NHL were doing. If they were going to play, we were going to play.”

That leaves IFL fans in the same boat as fans of the NBA and NHL, amongst nearly every sports league in the United States.

Tryon shined some light on what the current plans are for the indoor league.
Where does the IFL go from here?
The league, at the current moment, plans on playing its championship game during the August 22nd weekend at the latest.

It would allow the league – if they started up play on the weekend of May 15 – to still complete 17 weeks of a regular season with each team playing 14 games.

Unfortunately, the chances of having more than a four-team playoff go out the window, because of the condensing of the schedule, but Tryon identified the 22nd as the weekend they plan on playing the title game.

“That buys us about five more weeks (from now),” Tryon said. “Basically, I’ve reached out to all of the arenas and I’ve got the dates for July and August. (Then, we) can kind of build a schedule backwards. We’re at the mercy of the arenas. As soon as they deem it safe to play, we’re going to play.”

With each weekend past May 15 that this goes, it will trim the schedule even more.

If it goes through May 28, teams will play 12 games instead of 14 due to the lost time. So on and so forth.

If it goes far enough, Tryon said they will have no choice but to look at cancelling the entire season.

“I’m not speaking for the owners, but I’ve talked to enough of them that I feel like I can say this,” Tryon said. “If every team can’t get five home games and five away games in, then we’ve really go to look hard at potentially cancelling the season.”

Tryon did say, of course, that the league will resume when the arenas allow them to.

However, unlike the two planned games from week 2 that didn’t happen, the IFL is not likely to allow teams to compete without fans.

“It would be really tough to do that. Our industry is different than the NBA and the NHL,” Tryon said. “We rely on the season ticket holders, the sponsors… It would knock out a large revenue stream for us. Not only would we honor potential refunds, but we’d also have the expenses of playing the game, so that’d be a double-whammy there.”

Tryon said that he wasn’t saying, ‘No,’ but that it would be really tough for these teams to play without fans.

The only thing left to do is sit back, wait for this to pass, and learn some lessons along the way.

That’s a big part of what Tryon is focusing on now, and he summed it up with this:

“Any time you go through scenarios like this, there’s always lessons to learn,” Tryon said. “I’ve got three kids and I’m always trying to use moments to teach them lessons. The biggest thing in times like this is that you’ve got to take care of yourself. There’s never been a time where health and wellness was of more importance. This is a time to take care of yourself, to exercise, start eating right, respect and appreciating your elders, and doing all the small things we’re supposed to do anyway. My kids, at night, we call the grandparents every night. Tomorrow is never promised. I think that’s another thing that we’ve got to take advantage of the day we’re given, be excited about it, and help people.”

We’ll keep you updated as best as we can, as long as you take care of yourself.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to watch 14 games for each and every IFL team. Until then, we’ll wait.The post Todd Tryon on IFL’s current plans, lessons to learn appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Indoor Football League Suspends 2020 Season

This afternoon the Indoor Football League announced they would follow the lead of various other leagues and suspend the season.

The IFL is the first of the three remaining Indoor/Arena leagues to postpone their season due to the COVID-19 outbreak, coming after only one full week of play.

In their statement, the IFL has stated that games in Oakland and San Diego will be played as normal, however without fans in attendance.

Currently no statement has been made on Champions Indoor Football, whose season begins this month, or the NAL whose season begins next month.

The full press release from the Indoor Football League can be found below:

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of this weekend’s games in Frisco and Sioux Falls, along with the state of California’s limit on the size of crowds due to the pandemic, the Indoor Football League will be postponing its season until further notice following Saturday night’s games in Oakland and San Diego.

Both games are still scheduled to kick off at 6:05 PT, but will be played with no fans in attendance. Each game will be broadcast live on Youtube.

“This is an unprecedented situation that we are taking very seriously,” said IFL Commissioner Todd Tryon. “We are monitoring this on a constant basis and are working with the local municipalities and arenas in all of our markets. Our goal is to resume play as soon as possible. The health of our players, coaches, staff, fans, and sponsors is of utmost importance to our teams and to the league, and we will not compromise on those values.”

The IFL will continue to evaluate ongoing events and the safety of our players and will rely on the guidance of public health experts and our league’s Board of Directors in determining when to restart the 2020 season.

UPDATE: The CIF has announced that they will also delay the start of the 2020 Season.The post Indoor Football League Suspends 2020 Season appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Players to watch during the IFL’s 2020 Season

The Indoor Football League is filled with players to watch, year after year.

2020 is no different. The season is officially underway, with a plethora of talent ready to take the field for season openers over the next two weekends.

We took the liberty of identifying some of the most exciting players that fans will watch this season – keeping it at one player per team, of course.

We’ll let everyone else make their own opinions, but here are some of the most exciting players that will take the field in 2020.
Players to watch during the IFL’s 2020 Season
Arizona Rattlers – QB Drew Powell
Drew Powell runs into the end zone in front of an Arizona defender during Iowa’s win against the Rattlers in their home opener. Photo by Connor Ferguson.

Now in his second season and first full campaign leading the Arizona Rattlers, Drew Powell has his sites back on the IFL MVP Award and looks to lead the Rattlers to another United Bowl championship. Powell earned the league’s MVP award in 2018 and had 166 yards on a 76% completion rate in last year’s United Bowl loss to the Sioux Falls Storm. Don’t be surprised to see Powell thrive again this season under the leadership of Arizona head coach Kevin Guy.

Bismarck Bucks – DB Marcus Green
A Birthday photo for Bismarck’s Marcus Green. Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Football.

Marcus Green opened his 2020 IFL season on Sunday in Bismarck by leading his team with six tackles as well as an interception in a 50-36 loss. The Bucks have re-stocked their team with a plethora of talent on the defensive side of the football, so look for the former Oklahoma Sooner to keep the momentum going through the rest of the year.

Cedar Rapids River Kings – WR Shaq Currenton
Shaq Currenton runs off the field after a big play. Photo courtesy Tucson Sugar Skulls.

The Cedar Rapids River Kings had a busy off-season trying to rectify a roster that finished last season 1-13. The River Kings brought in Victor Mann to coach the team in 2020 and made a splash with signings in the off-season. Shaq Currenton averaged 41.0 yards per game last season as well as 13 touchdowns for the Sugar Skulls. He’ll be a big part of the River Kings offense if Cedar Rapids makes a push for the playoffs.

Duke City Gladiators – WR Dello Davis
Dello Davis was a normal occurance on the CIF Players of the Week lists before the Gladiators moved to the IFL. Photo courtesy CIF.

Dello Davis was a regular sight to see on the CIF’s players of the week lists in 2019. The wideout ended his year in second in the league in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. As the Gladiators transition to the IFL, they’ll need a lot out of their returning players that have made the core of the back-to-back championships the team is coming off of. Davis will be a big help with that.



Frisco Fighters – QB Jonathan Bane
Quarterback Jonathan Bane kisses a trophy after winning a championship with the NAL’s Jacksonville Sharks. Photo courtesy Jonathan Bane, Twitter.

The Frisco Fighters enter the IFL as one of three, true expansion teams – if you count Duke City as a transitioning franchise. Under the leadership of former AFL Coach of the Year Clint Dolezel, the Fighters look to have a strong inaugural season in Texas. They’ll go to battle with the quarterback that led the Jacksonville Sharks to the 2019 NAL Championship in Jonathan Bane. The Texas native threw for nearly 2,000 yards as well as 39 touchdowns ahead of the championship game. Dolezel has been known to work well with quarterbacks, so it wouldn’t be surprising for Bane to put up better numbers in 2020.

Green Bay Blizzard – DB Bakari Triggs
Bakari Triggs earned IFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors a season ago. Photo courtesy IFL.

The Green Bay Blizzard had a breakout season in the IFL last year. After six straight losing season’s, Coach Corey Roberson helped the team to a 9-5 season in route to the Playoffs. Returning for 2020 is defensive back Bakari Triggs – the IFL’s defensive rookie of the year. Triggs tied at the top of the league with six interceptions along with 38 tackles and a sack to add to his resume. Triggs will be a big part of an already dominant Blizzard defense that looks to return to the playoffs.

Iowa Barnstormers – WR Connor Hollenbeck
Wide receiver Connor Hollenbeck tosses a ball to a ref following a first down. Hollenbeck is already making an impact at the position just two weeks into his career in Iowa. Photo by Connor Ferguson

Dixie Wooten has left Des Moines, but one of the IFL’s most talented receivers is staying put in Iowa. There’s a reason that Connor Hollenbeck was the first official signing under new head coach Ameer Ismail, too. Over the past two seasons, Hollenbeck has been a regular to the top 10 leaders in receiving yards for the league including a ninth-place finish with 627 yards in 2019. Hollenbeck added 14 touchdowns last year and helped the Barnstormers to a second straight IFL semifinal appearance.

Oakland Panthers – RB Davonte Sapp-Lynch
Davonte Sapp-Lynch awaits the start of a game at Wells Fargo Arena. Photo by Connor Ferguson

Bursting into the Indoor Football scene in 2019, Davonte Sapp-Lynch quickly made a splash for the Nebraska Danger. If asked, he’ll tell you Marshawn Lynch – the former Seahawk and Panthers owner – is a brother to him, not the other way around. Rightfully so, Sapp-Lynch will take the field in Oakland for 2020 a year after finishing in the top five in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. It would be a big surprise to not see him back there this year.
Quad City Steamwheelers – WR Keyvan Rudd
Keyvan Rudd jumps up to catch a ball during a regular season game. Photo courtesy Rich Glancey/Pictureman Sports Photos.

One of the most electric players in the IFL during the 2019 season is coming back to the Quad Cities for another run with the Steamwheelers in 2020. Keyvan Rudd had some of the most electric catches and plays around the league last year. Rudd finished second in the IFL with 925 yards and led the Steamwheelers to a 6-8 record, just missing the playoffs. Already off to a hot start this season, Rudd helped get Quad City’s season started with a win over Cedar Rapids on Saturday that included a 34-yard touchdown.

Sioux Falls Storm – QB Lorenzo Brown Jr.
B.J. Butler chases down Sioux Falls Lorenzo Brown in the 2018 United Bowl. Photo by Connor Ferguson.

If there was ever a player known for explosive plays in the IFL, there hasn’t been one that has been known to do it for as long as Sioux Falls quarterback Lorenzo Brown Jr. has. Once again returning to the Storm following a championship season, Brown Jr. will try to lead his team to more success. Brown Jr. finished 2019 with 67 touchdowns – 46 through the air and 21 on the ground – and looks to be another top duel-threat quarterback in the IFL this year.

San Diego Strike Force – WR/KR Marques Rodgers
Marques Rodgers returns to the field in 2020 after being named LWOS IFL Honorable mention a year ago.

Marques Rodgers just missed out on being one of LWOS’ players of the year, instead earning a honorable mention for his performance in the 2019 season. The breakout star for the San Diego Strike Force ended the year with 1,322 yards on kick returns alone, proving to be as exciting as he was valuable for his team. He returns in 2020 as the Strike Force try to improve in their second year as a franchise.

Spokane Shock – QB Charles McCullum
The Spokane Shock, under the new leadership of Billy Back signed former All-NAL QB Charles McCullum. Photo courtesy Spokane Shock.

When head coach Billy Back was announced as the next head man to the returning Spokane Shock franchise, it was expected that two-time IFL MVP Charles McCullum would be returning to the league.  McCullum was one of the first players signed to return to Spokane and will be one of the many names competing for the overall MVP as well as, potentially, the championship.

Tucson Sugar Skulls – WR Ryan Balentine
Ryan Balentine celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the Iowa Barnstormers semi-final victory against the Nebraska Danger. Photo by Connor Ferguson

On the other side of things, when coach Dixie Wooten took off to take the lead of the Tucson Sugar Skulls, it was all but a done deal that his right hand man Ryan Balentine. On top of winning LWOS IFL MVP a season ago, Balentine led the league in receiving yards with 1,084 and 28 touchdowns for the Barnstormers. Look for him to play a big part in Wooten’s offense as a wideout as well as the backup quarterback.


The IFL season will start up again on Thursday with the third game of the season scheduled to begin in Frisco, Texas for a matchup between the Fighters and Duke City.

The game is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. CT and will be live-streamed on YouTube. The post Players to watch during the IFL’s 2020 Season appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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The Deuce will debut in the IFL in 2020

This morning the Indoor Football League announced a slight change to the rules for the 2020 season. This year the IFL will introduce “The Deuce” as another way to score points.

As a refresher the National Arena League also uses the rule, and the basic premise is if the kickoff goes through the uprights the kicking team gets two points.
The Deuce will debut in the IFL in 2020
There are some changes in comparison to how the National Arena League uses their rule however.

The biggest of these being that the deuce only comes into play during the last 60 second of each half. The NAL, on the other hand, allows it through the entire game.

The breakdown of the rule has been added to the rule book and is below, verbatum:

1. On a free kick in the final 60 seconds of the half or game, if the kick passes through the uprights, a two (2) point “Deuce” is scored, and the ball will be spotted at the B 5 as the touchback spot.

2. If Team A fouls during the kick and the kick is good, the “Deuce” is not scored, and the ball is spotted at the 25-yard line. The kick will not be repeated.

3. If Team B fouls during the kick and the kick is good, the foul is declined by rule and the ball is spotted at the five (5) yard line. (Exception: UNR/UNS fouls will be enforced half the distance from the five (5) yard line.)

“We believe this rule will add additional excitement and strategy at the end of each half, but it’s limited to only the end of each half as to not affect the integrity of our game,” IFL Commissioner Todd Tryon said in a release. “We had some great conversations as to how to implement the Deuce and I think we all ultimately came to the best use of the new rule. I’m excited to see it play out this season.”

Players have already started sounding off on social media about the rule.

We’ll get our first look at how teams utilize this extra wrinkle to the rule book in the first game of the season two weeks from Saturday. Quad City and Cedar Rapids will open the year on March 7.The post The Deuce will debut in the IFL in 2020 appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Iowa Barnstormers announce Coaching Staff for 2020 Season

The Iowa Barnstormers announced a new set of assistant coaches to join Ameer Ismail in his first season at the helm on Wednesday morning, as well as a new equipment manager.

Ismail will be joined in the 2020 season by four assistants: Chris Mosley, Mike Haar, Jason Simpson, and James Terry.
Iowa Barnstormers announce Coaching Staff for 2020 Season
A familiar name on the list for Barnstormers fans will be Simpson, who returns to the staff as the Special Teams Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach.

Simpson was a former player for the team for six seasons and coached in Des Moines in 2015, 2016 and 2019.

Jason Simpson on the field during an Iowa home game in 2019. Photo by Connor Ferguson.

“I am very excited to have Jason leading our defensive backs and special teams,” Ismail said in the release. “Attitude and energy are important attributes as a special teams coach and he has both. Look for an exciting special teams unit and an opportunistic hard hitting secondary.”

Simpson will be joined by another former player in former Sioux Falls Storm star James Terry.

Terry played 10 seasons for the Storm and sits in the top 10 in the league’s statistical categories in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, all-purpose yards, as well as scoring.

Terry was also named to the Indoor Football League Hall of Fame in 2017.

“James Terry has experience playing at a high level as both quarterback and wide receiver,” Ismail said in the release. “I played against James as a player and he was one of the best I ever faced. I look forward to him being able to pass on his knowledge in a coaching role.”

Also on the staff is a coach with both NFL and CFL experience in Chris Mosley.

Mosley – a former coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, and Montreal Alouettes – will be the Run Game Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach.

“Mosley has both CFL and NFL experience and the ability to teach,” Ismail said in a release. “He brings schemes and knowledge of what works best in the run game. His attention to detail elevates his ability to coach next level athletes.”

The other piece to the staff is Defensive Line Coach in Mike Haar.

Haar has spent time with the Green Bay Blizzard as a defensive line coach and most recently was an assistant for the Cedar Rapids River Kings.

“(Haar) has great experience coaching in the IFL and will be a great asset to our staff,” Ismail said in the release. “His defensive line has always been technically sound and physical, two things I value very highly.”

The group will take over with the goal of bringing another United Bowl championship to the city of Des Moines.

“When finding my coaching staff, it was important that they had a love for coaching and the ability and want to learn and grow,” Ismail said in a release. “I wanted a group that was self-motivated and could also motivate and get the best out of their athletes and I believe that is what we have built.”

The team will open their 2020 season on the road at Oakland – a franchise that is new to the IFL owned by Marshawn Lynch. Each game will be televised on YouTube.

2020 Barnstormers Schedule
Mar. 14 | @ Oakland
Mar. 29 | @ Bismarck
Apr. 03 | vs. Green Bay
Apr. 11 | vs. Arizona
Apr. 19 | @ Green Bay
Apr. 25 | vs. Bismarck
May 02 | @ Sioux Falls
May 09 | vs. Quad City
May 16 | vs. Cedar Rapids
May 30 | @ Cedar Rapids
Jun. 06 | @ Bismarck
Jun. 13 | vs. Quad City
Jun. 19 | @ Frisco
Jun. 27 | Sioux Falls

Barnstormers announce coaching staffThe post Iowa Barnstormers announce Coaching Staff for 2020 Season appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Cody Barber inspired by Kahzin Daniels Story

Earlier on in this 2019-2020 Indoor Football League off-season, an article detailing a new signee to the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers was circulating through Facebook.

Linebacker Kahzin Daniels had been promoted to the team’s active roster after serving time on their practice squad this year.

It wasn’t just a normal story about a kid getting his shot, though. Daniels, like the IFL’s Cody Barber is blind in one of his eyes.

“I thought it was pretty sweet,” Barber said. “To see someone with the disadvantage [that I have] to come from something like that to make it to the top of the sport, that’s pretty cool. I wish him the best.”

Seeing the story gave Barber a level of inspiration to continue to improve his game ahead of the 2020 IFL season.

Even though this is big break for a player with a disadvantage like Barber’s, he doesn’t let it hinder him.

Not to mention, he’s never kicked a football in his life with two good eyes.

“You’re used to it,” Barber said. “I’ve probably kicked the ball a million times, none of them have been with two eyes, ever. I just got used to it and got into the mindset where I wasn’t going to use it as an excuse or anything like that. “

He kept on working at it, eventually kicking in college and onto the IFL.

However, next to his school listed on any roster he’s on, he will write, “Cody Barber, Coolidge HS (Arizona).” It’s where he got his start to his career and still resides in the off-season today.

“I made a decision where I was to just going to keep working and getting better,” Barber said. “That’s how I went about it.”

The Arizona native will spend his 2020 season with the Bismarck Bucks and head coach Rod Miller.

Barber elected to stick with the team after playing for them a year ago, because of Miller.

“That’s my man,” Barber said. “He’s a good dude, there’s no shady stuff with him. He keeps it straight forward and honest. He knows a lot about the game.”

Miller’s coached with a plethora of indoor football teams from the Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul to the Bloomington Edge – where Barber and him were first acquainted.

Miller was the offensive coordinator there and the pair kept in touch ever since.

Barber thinks that it has set up the Bucks to be successful this season.

“A lot of people aren’t expecting us to do much of anything this year, but I think we’re going to turn a lot of heads,” Barber said. “We’ve been making some good moves especially on the offensive and defensive lines [and] we have our quarterback back.”

The Bucks re-signed Tasleem Wilson to lead the offense along with offensive lineman Ken Van Heule and defensive lineman LaTreze Mushatt.

That’s the kind of move that pays out well in the IFL.

“If you have [consistent players] at those positions, you’ll do well in the IFL,” Barber said. “I think we’ve attacked all three of those aspects of the game so far.”

Those aren’t the only notable players signing with the team, and not even the only notable ones at those positions, though they will be of great help.

Van Heule, for instance, brings championship experience to the team and was a former teammate of Barber’s at Iowa.

“Ken is going to be the anchor to that offensive line and we needed him there,” Barber said. “Every team he’s been on, he has produced. He’s won championships. He’s really good.”

The Bucks finished their 2019 campaign with a 2-12 record.

It left a sour taste in Barber’s mouth to give him that much more motivation for next season.

“I definitely think we could have won more games,” Barber said. “There’s definitely a sour taste in my mouth. I don’t know if everyone bought in to Coach Miller all that well. You could see it in their play. I know this year, with the guys Coach Miller is bringing in, they’re going to buy in and believe in him.”

Barber thinks that buying in is where the success will start, and if the 2020 Bucks can do that, they just might surprise some people.

“I’m always going to ride with him and I’m always going to believe in him,” Cody Barber said. “If we can get everyone [on board] with that, we’ll be pretty damn good.”The post Cody Barber inspired by Kahzin Daniels Story appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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IFL Commissioner Michael Allshouse Resigns, Todd Tryon to be next up

The Indoor Football League formally announced on Thursday that league commissioner Michael Allshouse has put in his official resignation after 10 years of service with the group.

The IFL released a statement on the matter saying that their search for a new commissioner had started, but according to our sources that search has already conclude.

The league is expected to announce soon that former owner of the Sioux Falls Storm, Todd Tryon, will be named the league’s next commissioner.
IFL Commissioner Michael Allshouse Resigns, Todd Tryon to be next up
It was first reported by “The IFL Network.”

The full statement sent out by the league can be viewed in full below:

The Indoor Football League (IFL) announced today that Commissioner Michael Allshouse has resigned to pursue other professional opportunities, effective immediately. The Board has begun a search for Allshouse’s successor.

“After ten years of service to the IFL it is the right time for me to step away from the organization,” said Allshouse. “I will look back fondly on my experience with the league, but it is time for me to explore other opportunities and challenges as I continue to grow professionally and personally.”

IFL Chairwoman Kathy Treankler stated, “The IFL Board of Directors is grateful for Mike’s years of service and leadership. Although we are sad to see him go, we fully support his decision and are thankful for his many accomplishments at the IFL. We wish him nothing but the best as he continues his professional career.”

Allshouse joined the IFL as an intern in 2009. He went on to serve in the roles of Director of Communications, Director of Football Operations, and Assistant Commissioner before being promoted to Commissioner in 2013.

“I have always prided myself on leaving a situation in a better position than when I arrived, and I believe we achieved that goal,” stated Allshouse.

The IFL is not yet finished announcing each of their expansion teams, so until that happens, the release of the 2020 schedule will be delayed. The schedule was announced last season in November.The post IFL Commissioner Michael Allshouse Resigns, Todd Tryon to be next up appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Connor Hollenbeck becomes first signing for Barnstormers 2020 Roster

The Iowa Barnstormers have consistently had one of the best receiving corps’ in the Indoor Football League over the past few seasons.

With the imminent coaching change that became official on Thursday with the hiring of Ameer Ismail, it’s wondered on if the Barnstormers will elect to maintain the focus on pass catchers.

They already took a big step towards it when they signed their first player on Friday.
Connor Hollenbeck becomes first signing for Barnstormers 2020 Roster
Connor Hollenbeck, a standout from the team’s 2019 roster became the first player to sign for 2020 as well as the first to announce he was returning to Des Moines.

For him, the process was easy.

After he found out former head coach Dixie Wooten would be leaving the franchise, he wanted to see who Iowa hired next before he signed to play for the Barnstormers for a second season.

“[Barnstormers Vice President and Chief Operating Executive] John [Pettit] called me a told me who it was,” Hollenbeck said. “We talked and I signed an hour later.”

Hollenbeck said he’s heard and seen nothing but good things about Coach Ismail and that it made his decision easy.

The returning standout was looking for another high energy coach to lead the Barnstormers and he got exactly that in Ismail.

“I wanted to see [Iowa hire] a coach with the same energy as [Wooten],” Hollenbeck said. “As long as he can keep us motivated and keep that energy and practice like it’s a game, we’ll [be good].”

Hollenbeck finished in the top 10 category in a number of receiving stats for the IFL in 2019.

The Edinsboro graduate finished eighth in total yards with 627, tied for seventh in touchdowns with 14, and was fourth in the league with 58 receptions in 13 games played.

Wide receiver Connor Hollenbeck tosses a ball to a ref following a first down. Hollenbeck is already making an impact at the position just two weeks into his career in Iowa. Photo by Connor Ferguson

“Obviously I’d like to increase my catches and yards,” Hollenbeck said. “That’d be awesome. I mean, like last year, I had better stats than I did any other year and our record was good. You know, I think you kind of look at your role on the team and know what you’re going to get no matter the situation, so maybe [I’d want to look at] consistency I guess.”

Though Hollenbeck’s goals lie within the team he’s playing on.

After playing two seasons with the Cedar Rapids Titans and only seeing four combined wins in his time on the east side of the state, the move to the Des Moines squad that was trending upward was easy.

“I’m going to keep just playing my game,” Hollenbeck said. “I’m all about the team. As long as we have a record like we did last year, I could really care less about how many catches I get.”

One thing that Hollenbeck is trying to improve on this year is playing at an even lighter weight than he did a season ago.

That’s what scouts have given Hollenbeck for feedback as he works, like the rest of the league, to reach the next level.

“I want to get quicker and faster,” Hollenbeck said. “That means playing at a lower weight and get a little leaner. See if I can get a little faster and develop some break-away speed; stuff like that.”

Hollenbeck came into camp last season weighing 240 pounds, which was a little on the heavy side for him, but he planned to cut weight during the two-week period.

That meant he was playing last season around 230 pounds.

“I felt better with the way I was playing on the field like that, so maybe if I lost five or ten more, I might feel even better,” Hollenbeck said.

He wants to take his range from 220-240 pounds during the year and shift it to around 215-230 pounds.

“I want to maybe come into camp a little bit lighter this year,” Hollenbeck said. “And bulk up a bit before, still so I can lose it.”

The team is slated to begin the 2020 Indoor Football League season in February, but the official schedule won’t be released for at least a couple of weeks.

Look for more news and profiles on Last Word On Sports’ Indoor Football department and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more offseason news.The post Connor Hollenbeck becomes first signing for Barnstormers 2020 Roster appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Spokane to return with ‘Shock’ name, Billy Back to HC

The Indoor Football League is expanding once again, and this time will be adding a familiar face to it’s lineup for the 2020 season.

The league is expanding with to the city of Spokane, who spent both 2016 and 2017 in the IFL under as the Spokane Empire before folding after a two-year stint with the league.

Now, the city will once again have an IFL team and this time with the ‘Shock’ nickname that was used in years prior when they were in the Arena Football League (AFL).

The name comes with a plethora of success, as the city won the AF2’s (development league for the AFL at the time) ArenaCup in 2006 and 2009 as well as the AFL’s Arena Bowl in 2010.
Spokane to return with ‘Shock’ name, Billy Back to HC
Sources have told Last Word On Sports that former NAL Coach of the Year and 2018 NAL Championship winner Billy Back will be named the head coach of the Shock.

The Carolina Cobras, the team Back coached for the past two seasons, announced that the two had parted ways earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the franchise has resurrected its Facebook page and appears to be using the same logo and word marks as it had in the past. The page can be viewed here. 

Spokane will become the 12th team set to play in the Indoor Football League for the 2020 season. Do note that this includes the Nebraska Danger who may not be playing in Grand Island again next season.

The Shock are expected to make an announcement regarding the team’s 2020 plans on October 1. For more Indoor Football League off-season news, follow LWOS on twitter here.

2020 Indoor Football League teams
Arizona Rattlers
Bismarck Bucks
Cedar Rapids River Kings
Duke City Gladiators
Green Bay Blizzard
Iowa Barnstormers
Nebraska Danger*
Oakland Panthers
Quad City Steamwheelers
San Diego Strike Force
Sioux Falls Storm
Spokane Shock
Tucson Sugar SkullsThe post Spokane to return with ‘Shock’ name, Billy Back to HC appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Ameer Ismail hired as newest Iowa Barnstormers Coach

The search for the Iowa Barnstormers newest head coach is over, the team announced on Thursday, as they have hired Ameer Ismail to take the reins in Des Moines.

Ismail becomes the eighth head coach in Iowa Barnstormers history and will follow the most successful coaching stint the team has seen in Dixie Wooten.
Ameer Ismail hired as newest Iowa Barnstormers Coach
The former NFL and arena league player brings experience from all over the place, including stints with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars as well as the AFL’s Jacksonville Sharks (Pre-NAL) and a plethora of IFL teams.

“It is such an amazing honor to be named the new Head Coach of the Iowa Barnstormers, the most prestigious and historic team in all of indoor or arena football,” Ismail said in a press release from the team. “[Barnstormers Vice President and COO] John Pettit and I have known each other and maintained a great relationship over the years despite being on different teams or even in different leagues.”

Ismail started off his coaching career with assistant roles in the IFL in 2014. He spent time with the Cedar Rapids Titans, Tri-Cities Fever, and Spokane Empire.

In 2017, Ismail took his first head coaching job with the Champion Indoor Football league’s Bloomington Edge, where he would lead his team to a 7-6 record and a berth in the CIF Playoffs.

The next year, Ismail packed up shop and accepted the head coaching position for the newly formed Massachusetts Pirates in the east coast’s National Arena League.

There, Ismail led his team to an 11-6 record and another berth in the playoffs. He was also named NAL Coach of the Year during that time.

In 2019 Ismail took a break from head coaching in the arena league to take a spot coaching the outside linebackers at Albion College.

Now, he’ll return to the indoor ranks carrying an 18-12 record as a head coach and a resume that includes two playoff appearances in as many seasons.

“To be able to work with someone of his expertise and experience is another major reason why I wanted to be here,” Ismail said in the release. “We will continue the winning ways with tremendous positive culture for our community and fans. I am very grateful for the opportunity and can’t wait to bring another championship to Des Moines.”

Expect the Barnstormers as well as other teams in the Indoor Football League to start announcing player signings soon as well as an announcement regarding Iowa’s assistant coaching staff.The post Ameer Ismail hired as newest Iowa Barnstormers Coach appeared first on Last Word on Sports.