Barto to take reins in Las Vegas
SOUTHAVEN --- Memphis Xplorers Head Coach Danton Barto has been named the new head coach of the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena Football League. Barto has led the Xplorers since 2002, compiling a record of 45-33, capturing the 2005 ArenaCup Title and taking home Coach of the Year honors last season.
"I am excited about this opportunity for next season," Barto said. "But, my focus for the present is on my current team and trying to lead them to the ArenaCup."
Barto is focused on the matter at hand; bringing the Xplorers and the fans another championship. This season's Xplorers squad is 8-2 and will host the Birmingham Steeldogs this Saturday night.
"I love this team and organization and I want to lead this team to back-to-back ArenaCups," Barto said. "I owe it to our organization, players and fans to give everything that I have to try to deliver another ArenaCup this year."
The Niceville, FL native is very proud of what the Xplorers organization has been able to accomplish the past five years.
"The Memphis Xplorers have become one of the premiere organizations in af2 through the hard work of everybody involved," he said. "If you look at where we started and where the franchise is now, you have to be proud of the strides we have made."
Barto's Xplorers teams improved their record each year that he was head coach. In his first season of 2002, the team went 5-11, followed by 6-10 in 2003, 10-6 and a playoff berth in 2004 and then the 13-3 finish and the af2 title last season.
Barto has gained the reputation of developing players and preparing them for the AFL. Following last season, 12 Xplorers signed with AFL clubs with two of them, DS Dahnel Singfield and OL/DL Khreem Smith, being named to the All Rookie Team. Smith was also named Second Team All AFL and was part of the ArenaBowl Championship won by the Chicago Rush this past weekend.
Barto served as offensive coordinator in the Xplorers' inaugural season of 2001 under head coach Collins Sanders Jr. He was promoted to the head coaching position prior to the 2002 season.
Barto's 45 af2 victories tie him for fourth on the all-time list. He is the winningest coach in af2 the last three seasons with a record of 34-12 since the start of the 2004 season.
Barto, a former University of Memphis Tiger (then Memphis State), played in the AFL and now will get the chance to coach in the top indoor football league; a league that is developing more and more players for the NFL. He says that his promotion to the next level can be an inspiration to others.
"This just shows all players and coaches in af2 that hard work pays off for everybody," Barto said. "If you work hard and produce, opportunities will come."
The Memphis Xplorers...2005 ArenaCup Champions
Help the Xplorers and the Northwest Mississippi Association of Realtors "Support Our Troops" when the Xplorers host the Birmingham Steeldogs on Saturday, June 17 at 7pm. The first 500 fans 12 and under will receive a collectible youth jersey compliments of First Tennessee. The first 1,000 fans will also get Miller Lite Can Koozies and miniature American flags. A-D-T will also be handing out CheerStix to all fans. Sam's Town Casino is sponsoring special jerseys the players will be wearing that will be auctioned off after the game to benefit the local troops and their families. Come early for the bike rally held by ABATE of Mississippi and the Sam's Town/Southern Thunder Harley Tailgate Party from 4 to 6. A big screen TV from Giant TV will be given away at halftime. See your local Giant TV location to sign up. With every purchase of a special $15 dollar ticket to the game, $6 will go to help our local troops and their families. For info, call 662-342-1755.
Listen to all the action on the radio home of the Xplorers, 730 ESPN.
Be sure to head to O'Charley's on Goodman Road in Southaven after every Xplorers home game for the official post game party.
Listen to the Danton Barto Show every Monday at 6pm on 730 ESPN live from The Fox and Hound in Southaven.
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