Axemen Re-Sign Six
Bemidji, MN - The Minnesota Axemen announce the re-signing of six players from last season's team: Tony Grimes, Antoine Tharpe, Neemia Vitale, Henry Orelus, Rony Nelson, and William "Big Tex" Slade.
Grimes (University of Hawaii, 6'0", 184 lbs.) played in 13 games for the Axemen last season, where he led the team in total tackles (73) and tied for the most pass-breakups on the team. Grimes also came up with an interception in overtime against the Billings Wolves that sealed the win on March 21st, 2015. Coach Davis on Grimes: "When I took this job, Tony was in the first group of players I wanted back. The guy can play. He had options to go elsewhere, but he chose to stay in Bemidji and help us rebuild this franchise. In the last couple months, Tony and I have built up a great relationship and he is someone who I greatly respect."
Tharpe (UMass, 5'10", 190 lbs.) joined the Axemen for nine games last season, where he averaged 5.6 tackles per game, and tied Grimes for the team lead in pass-breakups with 9. Coach Davis on Tharpe: "Antoine is a guy in our secondary who I think is a major asset. Antoine is a high character guy, who is exactly the type of player we want to rebuild with."
Vitale (Elizabeth City University, 6'2", 250 lbs.) re-signs with the Axemen after playing in every game for the team last season. Vitale was a staple on both the offensive and defensive line. Vitale will be reunited with fellow lineman Kasimili Uitalia who also played for the Axemen last season. Coach Davis on Vitale: "This guy plays hard. He'll hit you in the mouth every play, which I love. Toughness, tempo, and intelligence, pretty good combination."
Orelus (Akron, 6'2" 296 lbs.) played for both the Florida State Seminoles and the Akron Zips in college before playing in three games for the Axemen in the 2015 season. He was sidelined due to injuries, but played very well while he was on the field. Coach Davis on Orelus: "Henry only played a couple games due to injury, but I saw enough to know I wanted him back. I've challenged Henry to get himself in the best playing shape of his life because if he does, Henry could be as good as any offensive linemen in this league."
Nelson (Iowa State, 6'1" 252 lbs.) re-ups with the Axemen, and is the only player on the active roster that was here in the first season. Nelson racked up 32 total tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss in the 11 games he played during the 2015 season. Coach Davis on Nelson: "Rony has been a staple here in Bemidji. I love his personality and I greatly appreciate the fact that he is committed to the Axemen and the Bemidji community."
Slade (Bemidji State University, 6'0", 326 lbs.) returns to the Axemen after a lower body injury last season, restricting him to 2 games played. A former Bemidji State Beaver, "Big Tex" is also a Killeen, Texas native, therefore receiving the nickname, "Big Tex". Coach Davis on Slade: "Tex is a big, local kid who stepped up for us last season when injuries hit our offensive line. We love that he is a Bemidji State guy and is respected in the Bemidji Community."
The Axemen are a third-year member of the Indoor Football League and play their home games at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minnesota. Kickoff for the 2016 season is set for Friday, February 26th as the Axemen travel to Sioux Falls. Season Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online through www.MinnesotaAxemen.com. For more information, please contact the Axemen offices at (218) 444-8216.
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