Bandits, Freeze to Decide Inaugural AIFL Championship
RICHMOND, VA - The Atlantic Indoor Football League's top two teams from the regular season will face-off this Saturday, July 16th on the banks of Lake Erie to decide the league's first-ever champion. The Richmond Bandits (10-1) visit the Erie Freeze (10-1) Saturday night in a match-up of the regular season co-champions.
Kickoff to decide the inaugural winner of the Governor's Cup is slated for 7:00 pm at the Erie Civic Center. The game will be broadcast live online at www.RadioRichmond.com.
The Bandits are coming off a short week after earning their berth to the title game last Monday night with the 50-40 win over the Johnstown Riverhawks. Erie has been off since last Saturday after knocking off the Canton Legends, 73-58, to earn the right to host the championship.
"These guys are football players and they know what's on the line," commented Richmond head coach Rik Richards about his team's preparations in the limited turnaround. "They know Erie has had a few extra days of rest, but they didn't know which team they would have to prepare for until Monday. We have to focus our ourselves and our preparations and then execute on Saturday."
One of the preparations the Bandits are making is scouting the Freeze. Having only seen each other once on the field during the season, Richards contends that the two squads are very similar. Richmond is averaging 63 points per game, while Erie is tallying just under 62. The Bandits are surrendering 45.8 points per game while the Freeze are allowing opponents to score 40.5.
"We are close to being mirror images of each other on paper at practically every position but quarterback," said Richards. "We are both very talented at receiver, along both lines, and in the defensive secondary. But the major difference is at quarterback."
The signal-caller differences Richards alluded are that Erie's David Dinkins is a very mobile QB while Richmond's dynamic duo of Will Burch and Robbie Jenkins are more traditional pocket passers.
"(David) Dinkins can beat you in several different ways. If you lock down on his receivers, he'll scramble and beat you on the ground. On the flip side, if you commit yourself to playing short to stop the run, he'll loft it over your head through the air," Richards explained. "You're not going to stop him, nor shut him down - he's that good and definitely poses match-up issues. Defensively, we've got to force him into difficult situations and try to force him to make some mistakes."
Richards added that by having faced a scrambling QB in Chris Thompson for Johnstown in the semi-final will help his team prepare for what Dinkins likes to do.
Erie's top three receivers are very similar to the trio the Bandits trot out on offense. Led by AIFL All-Star candidate Donte Pimpleton, the Freeze spread things out between he, Josh Liddell, and Martino Theus, who was an All-af2 performer in 2002 with the Rochester Brigade.
Richmond counters with an equally lethal array of receivers. Former Virginia Tech standout Bryan Still, Marcel Willis, Chris Segaar, and DeAndre Green, who led the Bandits offensively in the first meeting with Erie with 81 yards receiving, provide fireworks for offensive coordinator Brent Williams.
The X-factor for the Bandits is the possible return of Redd Thompson to the offense. Thompson was the team's leading receiver prior to his injury which forced him to miss the last month of the season.
On the flip side, Richmond's defense, which led the league with 28 interceptions this year, is very talented in the secondary. The trio of Shannon Davis, Quesaun Wigfall, and the latest addition, Chris Brown will have the task of covering Erie's receivers. At the same time, the five guys in the box for the Bandits will have to apply pressure on Dinkins, while also containing the allusive quarterback. Lawrence Lewis, who tallied a sack and a safety in the semi-final win over Johnstown, anchors the talented front three. He is joined by Julian Graham and Cedric Phillips, who each sacked the Riverhawks QB on Monday, on the line and by Mike Crawford and John Petty at linebacker.
"Any way you slice it, it will be a battle on Saturday night," concluded Richards.
Fans can get tickets by calling Erie at (814) 453-7117 or by going to www.Ticketmaster.com. Tickets are also on sale at the box office at the Erie Civic Center.
Tale of the Tape - Bandits vs Freeze
Richmond Position Erie
#19 Robbie Jenkins Quarterback #10 David Dinkins
6-3, 215 lbs. 6-2, 230 lbs.
#3 Bryan Still Wide Receiver #7 Donte Pimpleton
6-0, 187 lbs. 6-2, 210 lbs.
#84 Marcel Willis Wide Receiver #6 Martino Theus
6-2, 205 lbs. 6-2, 200 lbs.
#88 DeAndre Green Wide Receiver #5 Josh Liddell
6-2, 215 lbs. 6-4, 220 lbs.
#5 Mike Davis Fullback #9 Darmel Whitfield
6-2, 255 lbs. 5-11, 185 lbs.
#99 Dan Rounds Offensive Line #79 Steven Banks
6-4, 330 lbs. 6-5, 320 lbs.
#56 Craig Howard Offensive Line #55 Jonathan Sitter
6-3, 280 lbs. 6-1, 250 lbs.
#71 Tony Charles Offensive Line #78 Ken Nickson
6-2, 330 lbs. 6-4, 290 lbs.
Richmond Position Erie
#23 Shannon Davis Defensive Back #3 Chris Blackshear
6-1, 215 lbs. 6-0, 180 lbs.
#24 Chris Brown Defensive Back #4 Mike Mills
6-0, 190 lbs. 6-2, 220 lbs.
#9 Quesuan Wigfall Defensive Back #12 Deforest Hart
6-0, 190 lbs. 5-10, 210 lbs.
#21 Mike Crawford Linebacker #11 Almonese Boyles
5-11, 220 lbs. 6-0, 220 lbs.
#40 John Petty Linebacker #2 Roosevelt Benjamin
6-1, 250 lbs. 6-3, 225 lbs.
#80 Lawrence Lewis Defensive Line #95 Dave Smith
6-4, 260 lbs. 6-3, 274 lbs.
#45 Julian Graham Defensive Line #77 Paul Pennington
6-2, 270 lbs. 6-0, 235 lbs.
#58 Cedric Phillips Defensive Line #97 Rodrick Kelly
6-3, 255 lbs. 6-6, 275
• Discuss this story on the American Indoor Football Association message board...
American Indoor Football Association Stories from July 14, 2005
- Bandits, Freeze to Decide Inaugural AIFL Championship - Richmond Bandits
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.
Other Recent Richmond Bandits Stories
- Seeing Redd, Bandits resign star wide receiver
- Third Time the Charm for Bandits' head coach Rik Richards
- Bandits crowned inaugural AIFL champions; Win 56-30 over Freeze
- Bandits, Freeze to Decide Inaugural AIFL Championship
- Bandits to Face Freeze in AIFL Championship on Saturday