In the world of professional football, every league outside of the NFL is looking for a way to set itself apart from the others and establish a loyal fanbase. The CFL, USFL, XFL, IFL, and other alternative football leagues are constantly in competition exposure, fans, and players. With that in mind, the IFL provides the most unique football experience compared to the other alt-football leagues.
The obvious differences are obvious, every game is indoors, smaller field, a faster pace of play, more scoring, and a game atmosphere that brings the excitement of basketball and combines it with the physical elements of football. Any given year the league could be dominated by a traditional power or a newcomer that builds a great roster and gets on a hot streak.
The difference between being a struggling team and a championship team is based on how well teams can build their team in the off-season and maintain that team throughout the season. This week several teams made roster moves to establish the role that they will play in the 2023 season. Let’s see what teams did this week to attempt to build a championship team in the IFL.
Northern Arizona Wranglers
To defend their 2023 IFL national championship, the Wranglers have made several moves to strengthen their roster. Defensively the Wranglers have added DB Ronald Malbrough Jr., LB Justice Henson, DB Juantarius Bryant, DL Rakeem Hatchett, and DL Elijah Watson. Malbrough Jr. comes to Northern Arizona after playing in the Fan Controlled Football League in 2022, and he has a reputation for being an effective run-stopper that can also defend the pass well.
Offensively, they have added OL Travis Alvarez and WR Isaiah Johnson. Alvarez is 6’7″ 330 lbs. player that played collegiately at SUNY-Courtland, and Johnson has the potential to be an offensive playmaker with a 6′ 4″ 220 lbs. build.
After winning the IFL championship in 2021 and an early playoff exit in 2022, the Pirates are showing a commitment to making the moves that will lead them back to playing for a championship in 2023. The Pirates have re-signed DB Aarion Maxey-Penton, Maxey-Penton was with the Pirates in 2021 when they won an IFL championship and he holds several defensive records for the Pirates.
In addition, the Pirates also added more personnel to their defense, DB Chris Ingram, Ingram played his college football at North Carolina State. Offensively, they have added OL Barry Wesley, Wesley was a 4-year starter at Colorado State and participated in mini-camps with the NY Giants and LA Chargers in 2022.
The Frisco Fighters are another team that has been a championship team in the IFL and is working hard to obtain personnel to once again become the best team in the league. On offense, the Fighters have added OL Noah Johnson and QB Alphonso Howard. Previously, Howard played quarterback for the Beasts in the Fan Controlled Football League.
Defensively, the Fighters have added 6′ 3″ 255 lbs DL Kenneth Mann and DL Rashad Brandon. Mann previously played for the Conquerors in the Spring League, and before that, he played at the University of Oklahoma, and Brandon played at the University of Miami.
The Panthers have been one of the most active teams this off-season after a 1-15 season in 2022. Just a year ago the Wranglers had been a 1-win team that won the IFL national championship the next year. The Panthers may believe that they have a plan in place to be the next worst to first-place IFL team. Offensively, the Panthers have added WR Maceo Matthews, RB Devin Wynn, WR Laquvionte “Speedy” Gonzalez, QB D’Angelo Fulford, and OL Mason Denley.
Fulford lead the Mount Union Purple Raiders to an NCAA Division III national championship in 2017. Defensively, Bay Area has acquired DB Trae Meadows after he had been named to the IFL All-Rookie team while playing with the Northern Arizona Wranglers.
Duke City Gladiators
The Duke City Gladiators are another team that is looking to take a step up to a championship level. Over the last few weeks, the Gladiators have made significant moves to build a high-quality roster. This week Duke City continued the process of building a championship roster for 2023. Offensively, the Gladiators added WR Moe Strong, Strong has prior indoor football experience after being named 1st team All-AWFC with 28 catches for 380 yards and 15 touchdowns. On defense, Duke City has added LB Jayson Serda and veteran DB Dexter Reese.
Quad City Steamwheelers
The Steamwheelers are riding the momentum of a great finish to the 2022 season and they are looking to add the pieces that will allow them to win the 2023 IFL National Championship. On defense, the Steamwheelers have re-signed DL Jaylin Swan, DL Teon Burroughs, and DB Malik Duncan, all of which were consistent producers in 2022 for Quad City.
They have also added DL Sam Hubbard and DB Michael Johnson, Johnson played for the Green Bay Blizzard in 2021 and produced 27 tackles in 4 games. Offensively, the Steamwheelers have re-signed WR Londell Lee, and have added WR CJ Windham. Windham comes from Middle Tennessee State University where he produced 107 catches for 1,330 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Sioux Falls Storm
The Storm is attempting to rise back to the top of the IFL. This week they added WR Draysean Hudson who produced 1000 yards and 6 touchdowns at Western Illinois and McNeese State. Sioux Falls has also added WR Kevin Hurley Jr. who had 38 catches for 641 yards and 6 touchdowns during his senior year at McMurry University. It will be interesting to see what impact these receivers will have on the offense for the Storm.
Green Bay Blizzard
The Blizzard has been one of the most active teams in the IFL in the last few weeks. Offensively, the Blizzard have added OL MJ Dumas, OL Jovaun Woodford, and WR Keith Pearson Jr. On defense, Green Bay has added DL Corey Brown and LB Nicholas Yearwood.
After having the 13th offense in the IFL in 2022, it is hopeful that the additions the Blizzard have made will allow them to be able to increase their scoring. Defensively, Green Bay was 3rd in the IFL in 2022, but as the offense improves it will be important to maintain a high level of play on the other side of the ball.
The Tulsa Oilers have obtained former Quad City Steamwheelers LB Tre Harris. Harris played for Quad City in 2020 and spent time with the Bismarck Bucks and Frisco Fighters in 2021. The Oilers have also added WR Jamon Langford and LB Kazon Edwards. As a first-year IFL team, it will be interesting to see how long it will take for the Oilers to be able to compete every week during the IFL season in 2023.
The Rattlers have spent their time this week working to score more points in 2023. They have added OL Brandon Smith, and they have re-signed WR Josh Lanier. Arizona has also added veteran kicker Craig Peterson. Peterson was the kicker for the 2022 Northern Arizona Wranglers and he brings extensive indoor football experience. Peterson’s experience includes championships in the IFL, NAL, and AFL, he also participated in training camps for the Ottawa Redblacks and Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL.
Odds and Ends
The Iowa Barnstormers signed WR Derek Kumeron out of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. While at Whitewater, the 6’3″ 215 lbs. receiver had 92 catches for 1,026 yards and 8 touchdowns. The Tucson Sugar Skulls re-signed DB Rashie Hodge Jr, this will be his second season with the Sugar Skulls after playing college football at the University of Arizona. And the San Diego Strike Force has added DB Shawn Shamburger who played at the University of Tennessee.
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