February 15, 2013 - Ultimate Indoor Football League (UIFL) - Lakeland Raiders
Lakeland, FL- At the conclusion of the inaugural 2012 roller coaster season, the Raiders fell to the hands of the Florida Tarpons in the Conference Finals. "Definitely not the way we planned on ending the season and especially to our rivals" commented Coach Mink. The Raiders now have put that behind them and are focused on the 2013 season. The first step in the second season for the Raiders is Training Camp. Training camp for the Raiders begins this Saturday February 16th and will continue until the first game where the Raiders travel to Georgia to take on the Rampage.
The task for the 2013 season was to build a championship roster to bring a title back to Lakeland. The first position of improvement the Raiders went after was the acquisition of Bj Hall at quarterback. A highly sot out free agent by many arena and indoor teams, Bj believes in the system the Raiders have and worked one on one in the off season with General Manager Feddy Azofeifa which helped land him a workout with the Miami Dolphins along with Roderick Jefferson. "We are trying to bring in top level talent to our roster not only for a championship but to help players move into the NFL or CFL. The opportunities for these men is available and teams will take the time to look at film" commented Feddy. They also improved the quarterback play with the additions of Chris Hart, Michael Tanner, and Anthony Speight.
The second improvement came with the offensive line. "The key to a great quarterback is protecting him or there is no use for a quarterback with such caliber as Bj. He can't complete passes laying on the ground" commented Coach Mink. The Raiders added Larry Wriedt, Chris Rutledge and Maurice Mitchell. The addition of Chris Rutledge is the first Miami Hurricane player the Raiders have signed and Maurice Mitchell adds another former Florida Gator to the Roster as well. The Raiders also added some local players to boost the line such as Brendan Berry, Vernard West, Darius Ross and a few more that will be competing to make the final roster spot.
The team also added some speed in the backfield with the addition of Tyler Batts. Tyler brings a threat in the backfield running the ball as well as catching the ball. He will also have competition with returning rushing leader from 2012 Travis Anderson along with Anthony Gay II. The Raiders will also show some different looks with Kendrick Stewart and new addition Conor Reilly in the backfield as well.
The receiving core is like no other for 2013. Arguably where the most competition will be on the team, the Raiders bring in some highly talented receivers. The return of Josh Smith, Adrian Smith and Roderick Jefferson are familiar faces the fans have seen. DeAngelo Woodie will also be in the mix as he will also be playing on the defensive side of the ball. New additions such as DeAndrew Rubin, Tyrece Gaines, Jason Harmon, Dj Boldin, Arsenio Curry and Sergio Allen will be giving the returning players a battle for the top spots. Anthony Gay II will also be in the mix playing some receiver as well. "The talent and experience these men bring is outstanding. I truly think the small things these players do will be what separates them because they are all very talented" commented General Manager Feddy.
The Raiders also made some great moves on the defensive side of the ball. The secondary brings back DeAngelo Woodie, Maurice Harvey and Julius McClellan from 2012 but the addition of the new players will make the returners work that much harder. The secondary will be highly competitive as well with new Raiders such as Reggie Lewis, Vince Anderson, Damien Jackson, Bryan Houston, Rashad Ethridge, Koreen Burch, Kevin Williams and a few more as well will battle it out for that starting position. Some of these players have brought experience to the secondary from playing with such teams and schools such as the Florida Gators, Tampa Bay Storm, Buffalo Bills, Toronto Argonauts, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ole Miss, Western Kentucky, Carolina Panthers, Ball State and many more.
The front 5 of the Raiders also brings in some great names and great battles for the final roster. Raiders bring back Kendrick Stewart, Munir Muwwakkil, and Troy Johnson. The team did make great additions and competition for the front 5 such as Marcello Church, Sam Smith, Roger Sippio, Melvin Jenkins, Daudi Marshall, KC Tolson, Conor Reilly and some more that will fight hard to get those spots. "Our front 5 is important to us because it gets pressure on the Quarterback that can force interceptions and fumbles. Last year, we had some games with great pressure and others with not enough. We plan to bring pressure in every game this year" commented Coach Mink.
Finally the Raiders welcome two new players that will battle it out for the Kicker position. Carlos Ojeda and Yoshitaka Sakuri. These two bring accuracy and leg power to the Raiders that will pay off throughout the season. Carlos is very experienced and has been playing indoor/arena football for many years and just previously played for the Cleveland Gladiators. Yoshi comes from Japan where he kicked professionally in Japan and now is trying to make his mark with a spot on the Raiders roster.
"The team is full of talent. We have many players than can play on both sides of the ball as well as a ton of speed. We are in a championship or bust mindset because we have a roster talented enough in all positions to win a championship. We expect to win! Camp will be exciting" commented General Manager & Director of Player Personnel Feddy Azofeifa. "I am ready to start camp and it will be tough to cut this roster down. Feddy did a great job bringing in talent this year and I am eager to lead these men into battle to represent for Polk County and Central Florida. Its going to be tough to let some of these guys go but I know they are good enough to play on other teams as well. This year will be a great year and we plan on hosting the Championship in June" commented Coach & Owner Michael Mink. The Raiders open the season up on March 4th in Georgia and the home opener will be March 9th against the Sarasota Thunder. Tickets are on sale at the Lakeland Center box office and online.
The Lakeland Raiders 2013 season tickets are on sale. The Raiders are showing fan appreciation by buying the first 500 season ticket holders parking for the season and there are still some available. The Raiders 2013 season kicks-off in March and 6 home game season ticket packages starting as low as $35 are now on- sale and can be purchased by calling 1-855-RAIDER1 or ordering online at www.lakelandraiders.com. The upcoming season will feature new rivals from Sarasota, Miami and out of state teams from Dalton, Georgia and St. Charles, Missouri. For more information about the Ultimate Indoor Football League visit the league website www.uiflfootball.com or by calling 877-500-UIFL. With all the great news on tickets, the Raiders will also like to announce a few of the players that will be battling it out for a chance to play for the Lakeland Raiders.
For more information about the Ultimate Indoor Football League visit the league website at www.uiflfootball.com. The Raiders will be playing home games at The Lakeland Center. The Lakeland Center offers a full variety of sporting events, concerts and shows. The Lakeland Center is a short drive from anywhere in Central Florida. Regular box office hours are Monday-Friday 9:30am-5:30pm.t
The Raiders were formed by Michael Mink in honor of Michael's mother Dorothy Mink. With Robert Tannenbaum's business knowledge and experience operating successful companies, the combo look to the Lakeland community to help build the best indoor arena franchise in the country along with a championship team. The original Raiders also honored a group of warriors and sons from America. These Raiders completed their mission in real war and were the Marine Raiders of World War II. One Team. One Mission. The invasion continues in 2013!