As many of you may know, I am a football guy through and through. I consume any and all football that is available for me to watch. Through Bishop Sports Management, the company that I work for, the developmental side (specifically within the Arena and Indoor leagues) is of great interest to me since many of our clients play for said leagues. As far as Chicago goes, our closest franchise is the Quad City Steamwheelers who play their home games at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline, Illinois. The Wheelers were formerly a part of the AF2, which was a developmental league to the AFL, but they are now owned by Doug Bland and their head coach is former Baltimore Raven, Cory Ross. The Wheelers are currently in the Indoor Football League, which is a league that has been around for ten years. It is now home to former AFL franchises the Arizona Rattlers and Iowa Barnstormers!
Fast Forward to this past week: I had a long day at work Friday and sped home to get to my laptop in order to catch the end of the Quad City Steamwheelers matchup against the Nebraska Danger. I was able to catch the last minute of regulation in which the Wheelers were stopped on fourth and five up only three with 17 seconds remaining while going for the endzone. Former University of Nebraska standout Tommy Armstrong started on his own five-yard line and led the Danger down the field to set up a 35-yard field goal attempt by Diego Marquez. The former Miami Hurricane blasted the ball in between the uprights, which are about half the size of a standard NFL goalpost. In the Indoor Football League, overtime is a college-style format with teams starting on their opponents 20-yard line. Quad City Quarterback E.J. Hilliard wasted no time and on the first play of overtime and found his go-to receiver, former University of Hawaii Standout Quinton Pedroza, in the endzone…. while not quite for the go-ahead score.
The play itself did end up making it to the number one play on the Sportscenter Snapchat top plays for the day. However, the game was not over just yet as the Wheelers PAT was blocked and they were only ahead by six, needing a stop to win the game. Davonta Sapp-Lynch, the younger brother of former NFL great Marshawn Lynch, was able to get the Danger down within the five-yard line for a fresh set of downs. On second down, chaos broke out as the Danger seemed to have scored the game-tying touchdown when Greg Dent came down with a pass in the back of the endzone after just squeezing by defensive back B.J. Kellog. The play was instantly challenged by head coach Cory Ross, and it was overturned, leaving the Danger with two plays to score from the three-yard line. The defense held strong on both plays as Armstrong sent the ball into the stands on third and fourth down. The end result left the Danger at 5-7 while the Wheelers were able to improve to 5-7.
The Wheelers control their own destiny with two games remaining on their schedule. First, they face the Bismarck Bucks at the TaxSlayer Center on June 7th. The Bucks beat them on a last-second desperation heave earlier in the season. Their final game will be down in Tucson against the Sugar Skulls, who currently sit at 6-6 and hold the fifth seed in the standings, good for one ahead of Quad City despite a 72-54 loss to the Wheelers on April 20th. To catch Quad City Steamwheeler games or any other Indoor Football League action, all you have to do is tune into YouTube TV! All IFL games are streamed and the quality is there for us sports snobs! Football does not end in February; it goes year-round... you just have to do a little searching. I promise you, nothing beats $10 tickets, cheap beer, and hard-hitting, over-the-wall action at your local IFL Game!
Featured Photo: Jessica Gallagher / QC Online