IPFL Week Fifteen Preview

by IPFL Press Release
July 13, 2000 - Indoor Professional Football League (IPFL)

WEEK FIFTEEN IPFL PREVIEW

IPFL Press Release

WEEK 15 IPFL PREVIEW July 13, 2000 - In what is being billed as a possible championship game preview, Week 15 features the most pivotal game in the 2000 Indoor Professional Football League (IPFL) season. Portland (8-4) and Mississippi (7-5) will slug it out for first place in the league standings when they collide Saturday night at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi. With just four games remaining for both teams, the outcome of Saturday's clash will likely determine the winner of the IPFL 2000 regular season championship.

Outside of the game of the week, two other games will also kickoff Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Central Time. Mobile (6-6) will host Louisiana (6-6) at the Mobile Civic Center and Omaha (6-5) will entertain Idaho (5-6) at the Omaha Civic Auditorium.

Portland and Mississippi will meet for the final time in their two-game season series. The first meeting occurred at Portland back in week two, as Mississippi put up the big numbers only to see Portland come away with a 42-41 win. Mississippi racked up 21 first downs, 259 total yards of offense and 38:02 in time of possession; however, the visiting Fire Dogs also botched two extra points and missed three field goals, the later of which was a game-winning 21-yard attempt on the next-to-last play of the game. The key for Portland, which was held to a season-low output of just six first downs and 102 yards of total offense, was that the Prowlers returned two Mississippi interceptions for touchdowns and returned a kickoff for another score.

Individually, Mississippi quarterback John Fourcade (6-2, 225) established the IPFL single-game record for attempts and completions in the earlier loss to Portland. Against the Prowlers Fourcade rushed for a score and was 30-55-3 passing for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Portland was led by defensive back Hassan Probherbs (5-11, 170), who had a game-high 12 unassisted tackles, one interception and four pass break ups.

This time around Mississippi comes in as the hottest team in the league. The Fire Dogs have won six out of their last seven games, including three straight. Last week Mississippi claimed sole possession of second place in the league standings with an impressive 55-34 win over Louisiana. Portland, which is still simmering from a 57-41 upset home loss to Mobile two weeks ago, has had an extra week to prepare for Saturday's game courtesy of last week's bye.

Entering this week's showdown for first, Portland leads the league in total offense (247.7 yards per game), pass offense (192.6 ypg) and turnover margin (+1.25 per game), while Mississippi is tops in scoring defense (34.6 points per game) and pass defense (117.1 ypg). Furthermore, Mississippi trails only Portland in the pass offense rankings, averaging a second-best 191.1 ypg, while Portland trails only Mississippi in the pass defense rankings, surrendering the second-lowest total of 119.2 ypg.

Both teams are led by former NFL quarterbacks. Portland's Erik Wilhelm (6-3, 217) guides an offense that has committed a league-low total of 19 turnovers (10 fumbles and nine interceptions). To date the Portland quarterback leads the league in completions (252), completion percentage (63.6), pass rating (114.6), total offense yards (2,393) and total offense yards per game average (199.4). On the season Wilhelm is 252-396-9 passing for 2,324 yards and 45 touchdowns. In addition to doubling as the Prowlers' offensive coordinator, Wilhelm holds the IPFL single-game record for passing yards (304) and total offense (311).

Aside from being Mississippi's starting quarterback, Fourcade also serves as the team's general manager and head coach. His 16-13 coaching record makes him the winningest head coach in league history. Behind center, Fourcade is tied with Wilhelm for the league lead in passing yards (2,324), passing touchdowns (45) and passing yards per game average (193.7). In addition to accumulating 2,363 yards of total offense (196.9 ypg average), Fourcade is 232-408-20 passing for 2,324 yards (193.7 ypg average) and 45 touchdowns.

"I would say this is probably the biggest game in the history of the IPFL," Fourcade said. "Given the magnitude of the game, combined with the fact you have two former NFL quarterbacks going head-to-head, this will certainly be the biggest football game in the country on July 15th."

League-leading Portland has several receiving options on a Prowlers' offense that averages 40.3 ppg. Wide receiver Chad Carlson (6-0, 195) has 58 receptions for 702 yards and 14 touchdowns. Tight end Trent Waibel (6-5, 225) holds 55 catches for 495 yards and nine touchdowns. In addition to averaging 3.9 yards per carry, running back Glenn Vereen (5-11, 195) owns 47 receptions for 315 yards and seven touchdowns.

Likewise, Mississippi's offense, which averages 42.2 ppg, has three primary receiving options available. Wide receiver Kenny Causey (6-1, 190) leads the league in receptions (86), receiving yards (948), receiving touchdowns (15), receiving yards per game (79.0), receptions per game (7.17), all purpose yards (2,098), all purpose yards per game (174.8) and field goal return yards (229). Fellow Fire Dogs' wideout Lamont Woodberry (6-3, 215) has 66 receptions for 689 yards and 13 touchdowns, while running back Buster Browne has scored 16 touchdowns.

The similarity between both combatants also carries over to the defensive side of the ball, where each team is led by its secondary. Portland's defensive backfield features Jake Capdeville (6-1, 210), Milton Myers (5-11, 150), Antonio Sparrow (6-2, 200) and Probherbs. Together they have combined for 261 tackles (137 unassisted and 124 assisted), including 20 for a loss, and 21 interceptions. Individually, Sparrow leads the league in interceptions with seven.

Mississippi's secondary standouts are Quincy Sorrell (5-11, 190), Kevin Bouis (6-0, 205), Eugene Ridgley (6-2, 195) and Terrell Sutton (6-0, 180). Together the Fire Dogs' foursome has combined for 211 tackles (110 unassisted and 101 assisted), including 10 for a loss, and 16 interceptions. Individually, Sutton leads the league in passes defended with a total of 20 (14 break ups and six interceptions).

If Mississippi stumbles, Omaha would move into second place with a win over Idaho. Saturday's game between Omaha and Idaho will be the final meeting in the four-game season series. Omaha leads the series 3-0, including last week's 54-47 overtime win in Boise. In the three games, the Beef have defeated the Stallions by an average of 8.6 points.

In last week's win over Idaho, Omaha established an IPFL record for most fourth-quarter points, most second-half points and most points scored in a half. The 47 second-half points Omaha scored were the most ever scored in a half during an IPFL game, ironically eclipsing the previous record of 45 which was held by Idaho. Furthermore, Omaha's 31 fourth-quarter points was the third-highest single-quarter total in IPFL history (the record is 34). Individually, Omaha defensive back Thomas Williams (5-11, 185) tied an IPFL record with three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

Omaha's offense is led by the running back tandem of Calvin Jones (5-11, 210) and Clinton Childs (6-1, 230). Together they have rushed for 492 yards and 11 touchdowns. Although the Beef's specialty is a ball-control rushing attack, quarterback Troy Travis (6-3, 240) has passed for 1,006 yards and 19 touchdowns.

For the second straight week, Idaho's Brian Smith (5-11, 225) will be responsible for chasing down the Omaha backs. Last week Smith made 17 tackles in the overtime loss to Omaha. On the season he leads the league in tackles with a total of 127 (67 unassisted and 60 assisted). Although Smith is already the all-time leading tackler in the IPFL with a career total of 207 and counting, he needs just three tackles Saturday to establish a new single-season record for tackles. Joining Smith in the Stallions' defensive backfield are DaWaun Miller (6-3, 195), Chris Cook (6-2, 200) and Darnell Hasson (6-1, 190). Together the foursome has accounted for 323 tackles and 10 interceptions.

Omaha sports a strong secondary as well. Beef defensive backs Lamar O'Neal (6-2, 195), Steve Lovell (5-9, 155), Shanon Yates (6-0, 210) and Williams have combined for a total of 220 tackles and 16 interceptions. Their assignment Saturday night will be to slow down the Idaho passing attack, which is led by quarterback Albert Higgs (6-1, 210). In addition to averaging 171.8 yards of total offense per game, Higgs has passed for 1,688 yards and 29 touchdowns. Higgs' leading targets are wide receivers Antwan Wilson (5-9, 180) and Ricky Ross (6-0, 195). Wilson has 32 receptions for 483 yards and six touchdowns, while Ross, who averages 134 all purpose yards per game, has accounted for a total of 406 all purpose yards and six touchdowns in the last two games against Omaha.

Louisiana and Mobile will meet for the final time in their two-game season series. Back in week eight, Antoine Flowers (5-9, 175) scored three touchdowns as Mobile ended Louisiana's five-game winning streak with a 53-32 victory. The Seagulls' win started a downward slide for the Rangers, who have lost five out of their last six games. As for Mobile, the Seagulls enter on an upswing, having won three out of their last four games, including last week's 55-51 road win over Shreveport-Bossier.

Among the team statistics, Louisiana leads the league in scoring offense (averaging a league-high 42.9 ppg) and is second in total offense (212.4 ypg), while Mobile is tops in total defense (surrendering a league-low 162.8 ypg) and second in scoring defense (212.4 ppg).

Louisiana's offense is led by running back Byron Allen (6-0, 205), the league's all-time leading scorer with 290 points and counting. Aside from leading the league in rushing with 134 carries for 528 yards and 14 touchdowns, Allen needs just 185 yards to become the league's all-time leading rusher. Quarterback Doug Coleman (6-2, 230) is 46-88-3 passing for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns. Jacobe Austin (5-10, 190) averages a team-high 135.2 all purpose yards per game for the Rangers, while teammate Eric Young averages a league-high 25.0 yards per kickoff return.

Mobile's Flowers, who leads the league in scoring with 25 touchdowns and 150 points, needs just 23 points to break the IPFL regular-season scoring record. Flowers has rushed for 411 yards and 17 touchdowns and caught 47 passes for 450 yards and eight touchdowns. Seagulls' quarterback Kelvin Simmons (6-1, 203) is also a double threat. Simmons has rushed for 275 yards and four touchdowns and passed for 1,335 yards and 19 touchdowns. Also contributing big lately has been running back Cleon Jones Jr., who has averaged 6.8 yards per carry during the last two games. On special teams, James Matthews (5-4, 160) averages a league-high 35.4 yards per field goal return and has amassed a league-high 1,041 kickoff return yards.

Mobile's offense continues to shoot itself in the foot with turnovers. Last week the Seagulls threw four interceptions in their win over Shreveport-Bossier. To date Mobile has committed a league-high total of 37 turnovers (13 fumbles and 24 interceptions).

• Discuss this story on the Indoor Professional Football League message board...

Indoor Professional Football League Stories from July 13, 2000


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.


Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew