Austin Wranglers re-sign key veterans
AUSTIN, TX, July 12, 2005 - The Austin Wranglers announced today they have re-signed eight veterans from the 2005 squad, resulting in a total of 22 returning players for the 2006 season. This solid foundation of players puts the Wranglers in a competitive position to build on the team's strengths and attract new talent for a winning third season.
The Wranglers have re-signed quarterback John Fitzgerald; linemen Tom Briggs, Aaron Humphrey, Eric Thomas, and Ramon Richardson; wide receiver/linebacker Darrin Chiaverini; fullback/linebacker Dane Krager; and offensive specialist Tacoma Fontaine.
"With this line-up, we have a seasoned quarterback and a rock-solid offensive/defensive line that only allowed four quarterback sacks in 2005," says Head Coach Skip Foster. "Even with the solid foundation of re-signed players, we intend to aggressively recruit quality free agents to help build a championship team in the extremely tough Southern Division."
Under Arena Football League rules, all teams had until June 30th to re-sign that team's free agents. Teams can now begin to discuss with League-wide free agents, but they cannot be signed until September.
Fitzgerald (6'4", 225, Tulsa) re-signed with the Wranglers after beginning the season as the projected back up quarterback. After the starter sustained a knee injury in the second game, Fitzgerald took over finishing the season going 354-537 for 3,960 yards, 72 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Fitzgerald was named Offensive Player of the Game for his performance against the New York Dragons and the Orlando Predators. A four-year veteran of the league, Fitzgerald has completed 925 of 1,510 passes for 10,799 yards and 182 touchdowns. He also has rushed for 19 touchdowns on 72 carries during his career.
Briggs (6'3", 270, West Virginia) started all 16 games on both sides of the line in 2005 season collecting 185 total tackles, one sack and three pass deflections on the season. Briggs is considered one of the top linemen in the league, qualifying as a finalist for the AFL Lineman of the Year six times and winning the award in 2003. In his career, Briggs has recorded 38.5 sacks, three interceptions, while catching 24 passes for eight touchdowns on offense.
Humphrey (6'4", 265, Texas), in his second season in the AFL and with the Wranglers, logged a solid 2005 season leading the team with 2.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and also caught his first career interception, which was also for a touchdown. On offense, Humphrey finished the season with two receptions, both for touchdowns. Humphrey was signed by the Wranglers in 2004 was selected to the AFL-All Rookie Team.
Krager (6'3", 250, Angelo State) did not play in his first game until week six of the season due to injury, but in his first game back was named the US Army Ironman of the Game against Las Vegas, and added the ADT Defensive Player of the Game against the Orlando Predators. Krager finished the season at linebacker with 1.5 sacks, one interception and led the team with three fumble recoveries. He also played at the fullback position, rushing for 59 yards on 31 carries, scoring five touchdowns. During the season, he caught seven receptions for 65 yards and one score.
Chiaverini (6'2", 220, Colorado), wide receiver/linebacker, was the team leader in receptions with 114. He also had 951 yards for eight touchdowns, including a sensational 13 receptions and 102 yards against Las Vegas that gave him the Offensive Player of the Game award. At the linebacker position, he posted three interceptions returning them for a combined 41 yards, and added 21 solo tackles. Chiaverini was also named the AFL US Army Ironman of the Week for his performance in against the New York Dragons, catching 11 passes for 103 yards, and adding one interception for a return of 16 yards.
Thomas (6'4", 300, Florida State) started at center for Austin in all 16 games. On defense, Thomas collected 8.5 tackles, including three solo stops against Grand Rapids. In his second season with the Wranglers, Thomas helped lead a line that gave up only four sacks the entire season.
Fontaine (6'1", 185, Southwest Missouri State) was a crowd favorite in his second season with Austin and set many team single game records. He led the team with seven games where he accumulated over 150 yards on receptions and kickoff returns. Fontaine led the team in kickoff returns with 828 yards on 40 returns and a 56-yard touchdown and another 48-yard return for a score. As a receiver, Fontaine had 48 catches for 719 yards and 9 scores, including a Wrangler record with a 49-yard score against Grand Rapids.
Richardson (6'2", 295, Oklahoma), who began the season on the injured reserve list, played both at fullback/linebacker and on the offensive and defensive line throughout the season. On offense in three games at fullback, Richardson had 11 carries for 17 yards and one score. On defense, Richardson finished the season with five tackles and one quarterback hurry.
Season Tickets Now on Sale
The 2006 Austin Wranglers season kicks off in January at the Frank Erwin Center. Season Tickets are on sale now, including new child's pricing. To purchase your season tickets, call (512) 339-3950 or visit www.austinwranglers.com.
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Arena Football League (1987-2008) Stories from July 12, 2005
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