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Danton Barto to return as Xplorers coach

September 21, 2005 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

SOUTHAVEN --- Following a dream 2005 season that concluded with the franchise's first championship, the Memphis Xplorers of arenafootball2 announced today that Danton Barto has signed a contract to return for his fifth season as the team's head coach. Barto led the Xplorers to a franchise best 13-3 regular season record and a run in the postseason that resulted in the ArenaCup Championship.

"I am excited to be coming back after such a fantastic season," Barto said. "I feel that this team is my baby. We had our behinds handed to us for two years and we took our lumps and now we are at a point that this is a great organization and a great team. My goal is to build a dynasty."

The Xplorers' front office likes the idea of having the af2's winningest coach over the last two seasons back in the fold.

"We are glad that Danton is coming back for 2006," Xlporers General Manager Trey Medlock said. "He has proven himself to be an elite coach in af2. His ability to recruit and coach on the field puts him in a class by himself."

The 34 year-old Barto was the defensive coordinator under Head Coach Collins Sanders Jr. in the Xplorers' inaugural season of 2001. He became the head coach in 2002 and has compiled a 34-30 regular season record with 23 of those wins in the last two seasons. Under Barto, the Xplorers have improved their record each season starting with a 5-11 finish in 2002, improving to 6-10 in 2003. The team took a major step forward in the 2004 campaign with a 10-6 regular season and a first ever playoff berth and then, of course, this season was the pinnacle at 13-3 and the title.

Following that type of success, it is expected that other teams and leagues will come knocking on your door. And with Barto, there has been some knocking, but there has been nothing that would make him want to leave Memphis.

"This is my home," the af2 Coach of the Year said. "I have been here since 1989. I've bought a home here and this city has been great to me. Those opportunities (to coach in a higher league) may come or they may not. Regardless, I am happy here."

The organization knows that with continued success, the call to a higher league will come sooner rather than later.

"We had hoped that he would have been given an opportunity in the A.F.L. (Arena Football League)," Medlock said. "That time will certainly come, though, as he continues his success in af2."

Even though the A.F.L. didn't come calling for the coach, that probably won't be the case for several of the players. Barto knows that when you have a season with the team success and the individual performances that the 2005 Xplorers had, you will lose some, if not all, of your star players.

"We are going to lose several of our key players that had great seasons this year," Barto said. "We will have some huge holes to fill, but I am excited about some of the skill position guys we've been talking about bringing in. I think, as crazy as this sounds, that we could be better at certain positions. We may not jump out of the gate like we did this season, but at the end of next season, we will be where we need to be."

To go with Barto's Coach of the Year honor, Dahnel Singfield won the Defensive Player of the Year Award and Khreem Smith won the Lineman of the Year Award. Singfield and Smith were joined by three others, Terrell Adams, Joseph Crear and Kevin Prentiss, on the All-af2 teams.

Barto had a prestigious career as a linebacker for the University of Memphis (formally Memphis State) Tigers where he was a three-time All-American, a two-time Butkus Award nominee and the career leader in tackles with 473. The Niceville, Florida native followed his collegiate career with a professional career that took him to the Shreveport Pirates, Memphis Mad Dogs, Hamilton Tiger Cats and Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League and the Connecticut Coyotes of the A.F.L.

Barto, his wife Rachel and six year-old son Will reside in Bartlett, Tennessee.

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