Kreatures excited fans in Silver Spurs Arena
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Dr. Frankenstein's creation would not have preferred to go out the way it did.Or, did it?
When the Kissimmee Kreatures of the National Indoor Football League began the season, there was promise of a successful year. Kissimmee was especially hopeful on the field with some outstanding athletes, some versatile young men and a first-year coach who had played indoor football.
Something was abandoned during the season. It was as if Fritz, the hunchback assistant of Dr. Frankenstein, had stolen the wrong bodies. The talent was there.the direction of the team was dissolved.
The Kreatures, and they were creatures and characters, started out the season scoring 63 and 64 points in their first two games.including a win in the second contest.
Two more home losses and another away from the castle, and Kissimmee found itself, 1-4 on April 11. A bolt of lightening struck somewhere and up from the grave came a team willing to meet all odds against the top team - at the time - the Miami Morays.
Kissimmee played the Morays toe-to-toe, realized they tasted just like chicken and as the game progressed knew the last morsel would be theirs. Then there was James Panui, Dr. Franky's latest creation. And despite being a running back, receiver, kick return guy and more, the future all-pro invention had the last kick.
Panui, who 7th in the NIFL in all-purpose yards per game (129.9) was about to give the Kreatures the upset of the season. Panui had not kicked since high school in Europe, but the Hawaiian-born player nailed a right-footed 38-yarder through the uprights at Heritage Park's Silver Spurs Arena on April 16, for a 51-48, win. This second win of the season would be their last in a 14-game schedule.
Believe Igor or not, four weeks later, the Kreatures lost by only five points in Miami. The rest of season was like digging the grave a bit deeper each time. Kissimmee closed out the year on an 8-game losing streak.
Besides the Miami win at home, there are other positive highlights. If you don't believe Bela Lgosi was turned down for the Frankenstein monster, well think again because some things are plausible.
Kissimmee, believe this, was the best pass defense (in yards per game 133.1) team in the league. Players like John Gordon, Joe McClenden, Larry Preston, Terek Wilson and Hynric Murray made up a secondary whose coverage was better than the Wolfman seeking his prey.
Those players combined for 16 of the total 19 Kreature interceptions. McClenden had 3 fumble recoveries and was 17th in the league in tackles (66.5).
Derric Coakley, the eight-year defensive lineman, however was paramount in Kissimmee's entertainment ability. The indoor games' second all-time sack collector, buried five quarterbacks on artificial turf this past season, adding to his portfolio of 50 he had coming into the year. Fritz was proud of his 'head-hunting' ability. He always got the right one.
Coakley also led the league in fumble recoveries (5) tied for second in forcing fumbles (4) with three others. He also had 21.5 tackles and rarely did a team run in his direction.
LaFann Williams just finished out of the top 10 in rushing, collecting 44.1 yards a game. He had a season-high 100 points on 13 rushing touchdowns and another three in TD receptions.
So what else did wonder hero Panui accomplish without any secret potion? He was 10th in the NIFL, gathering in 61 passes from quarterback Rob Harding, Brock Jones and Rick Pyle.
The 5-foot-9 Panui, who could be sought after by some higher league player personnel directors, had a team-high 688 yards receiving. Two of his nine touchdowns came at home game against Miami. He led Kiss with 46 kick-off returns and a 52-yard jaunt was the longest on the team against Daytona Beach at home.
NIFL rookie TJ Simmons excelled this season. The former Alabama-Birmingham standout led the team in TD receptions with 13 and ahad a total of 60 catches. Tim Austin also did a nice job in the receiver corps, catching 25 balls for a total of 265 yards.
Quarterback Rob Harding, out of football for a couple years and playing next to his old high school (Gateway), ended with a 100.12 rating. Not bad for a guy who had not touched a pigskin is such a long time. He was 134 of 243 (55.1%) for 1,504 yards and 22 touchdowns. When Rick Pyle came along, regular backup QB Brock Jones was put at wide receiver and caught two TD passes in a total of four grabs.
Simmons had the stamina of The Monster. He was the only player who participated in all 14 games.
Out of what could have been a catastrophic situation.really turned into a positive situation and a fan base that loved their Kreatures.
Kritter, the mascot, was haunted by all the number 22s and his cleaning bill.
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National Indoor Football League Stories from June 28, 2005
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- Mauler Mania to air this weekend - Montgomery Bears
- Kreatures excited fans in Silver Spurs Arena - Kissimmee Kreatures
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