As the IFL off-season gets closer to 2023 the teams of the IFL are busy building their rosters for the 2023 season. This week several teams re-signed some of their key players from 2022 giving them a firm foundation for another successful season. On the other end of the spectrum, teams that struggled during the 2022 season are full of hope that continue to make personnel moves that they hope will translate to a breakthrough season in 2023.
Championship teams are built in the offseason at all levels, and in the IFL the process of team building is focused on the free-agent acquisitions that teams make approaching the season. We will take a look at the roster moves that were made during the 1st week of December in the IFL.
Quad City Steamwheelers
The Steamwheelers ended the 2022 season with an expected hot streak that allowed them to nearly win the IFL National Championship. A big piece of the Steamwheeler’s success was due to quarterback EJ Hilliard who was named the 2022 Offensive Player of the Year, and this week Hilliard was successfully re-signed by Quad City.
They also re-signed defensive back Darreon Jackson, and offensive lineman Vernon Sainvil. The Steamwheelers also added some new talent this week by signing defensive back Tarik Pusey, defensive back Joseph Freeland, and wide receiver John Williams. It will be interesting to see if Quad City can build off its hot finish in 2022.
The Fighters continue to add talent to their line of scrimmage, and this week they signed 6’4″ 245 lbs. defensive lineman Mackenzie Balaganayi. Frisco has also added linebacker Royce See to continue to improve their defensive unit which was ranked 5th in the IFL.
Firepower has also been added to the Fighter’s offense in the form of wide receiver Jaelen Austin, and he should continue to improve an offense that was 2nd in the IFL in 2022. After being one of the best teams in the IFL’s regular season, it will be interesting to see if the Fighters can make the improvements to win the league championship in 2023.
Green Bay Blizzard
The Blizzard has been one of the most active teams this offseason, and to start December they have made some impressive moves. On the defensive line, they have added former Florida Gator, Carl Jefferson who has experience with the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL in 2020. Defensively, they also added defensive back Michael Miller, Miller was an impressive playmaker during his Junior and Senior years at the Division II University of West Georgia.
Also out of the state of Georgia, the Blizzard picked up wide receiver Montay Crockett who brings his experience from Georgia Southern University and a long list of professional football teams from the AAF, CFL, and various NFL teams. Green Bay has also re-signed defensive lineman Deldrick Canty, 6’4″ 290 lbs. defensive lineman Lamont Anderson, defensive lineman Malik Haynes, offensive lineman Trent Clark, and defensive back Trey Giles.
Duke City Gladiators
The Gladiators have re-signed 2021 Offensive Player of the Year quarterback Nate Davis to lead their offense. In addition, Duke City signed wide receiver/defensive back Eriq Swiftwater to be a potential 2-way weapon in 2023. They have also added kicker Ernesto Lacayo who is a former kicker for the Arizona Rattlers. After finishing the 2022 IFL season with the 11th-ranked defense, it will be interesting to see over the next few weeks, if Duke City has a plan to elevate its defensive play. Regardless, the Gladiators should have an effective offense that will give them a chance to compete regularly in the IFL.
The Pirates came very close to playing for an IFL championship in 2022, and they are making moves to give them a chance to be a championship team in 2023. The Pirates have re-signed defensive lineman Ezekiel Rose, the 6’2″ 310 lbs. Rose produced 19 tackles and 2 tackles for loss in 2021.
Massachusetts has also signed veteran defensive back Momodou Mbye who played the last two seasons for the Green Bay Blizzard. In 2022, Mbye was named an All-IFL 2nd team player with 108 tackles and 2 interceptions. The 2022 Pirates had the 4th best defense in the IFL, and they may look to acquire some offensive weapons to improve their offense as they get closer to the start of the 2023 season.
Northern Arizona Wranglers
As the Wranglers prepare to defend their 2022 IFL National Championship, the focus seems to be improving their 2nd-ranked defense. Northern Arizona has signed defensive lineman Nate Bresson, and defensive end DeMarco Artis to continue to shore up their defensive front. The Wranglers have also added running back BJ Smith which should allow for balance in the offensive attack for 2023. With the parity in the IFL, it will be interesting to see if the Wranglers can maintain the high-performance level that they finished with to end the 2022 season with a championship run.
Bay Area Panthers
The Panthers seem to be building on a vision for the future of the team with their acquisitions this week. They have made moves to strengthen their front office by naming Javier Ortiz as vice president, Ortiz has won several awards for his management prowess in other roles. Concerning their roster, the Panthers have added quarterback Ladarius Skelton and wide receiver Elijah Lilly to their offense. They have also added defensive lineman Jamal Holloway. With 14th rankings on offense and defense in 2022, they only option for the Panthers is to improve in 2023.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Rattlers are continuing to add depth to their offensive and defensive line units. In 2022 the Rattlers had the top-ranked offense and defense. If a team hopes to develop into a championship team, it is highly recommended that they pay attention to how Arizona builds its team each year. The Rattlers signed offensive lineman Cole Carter and defensive lineman Arthur Randall III. Will these be what is needed to put the Rattlers back on top of the IFL?
The Barnstormers seem to be a team that is taking its time to build its roster for the 2023 season. This week they added linebacker Ian McBurrough to their defense. Over the next few weeks, it is expected that the Barnstormers will begin accelerating their process for building their team. In 2022, the Barnstormers were a “middle of the pack” team with the 9th-ranked offense and 7th-ranked defense. Will the Barnstormers be able to make the moves to get themselves in a position to compete for a 2023 championship in the IFL?
Sioux Falls Storm
The Sioux Falls Storm is a franchise that has high expectations concerning winning league championships and they will be coming into the 2023 season hungry after an 8-8 2022 season. This week they made moves to add more weapons to their offense. They signed running back Bryson Denley to help with their running game. They also added wide receiver Cole Thurness who produced over 1900 yards and 19 touchdowns while at Chadron State.
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