Marion Mayhem Season Preview

March 31, 2006 - Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL) - Marion Mayhem News Release

The Great Lakes Indoor Football League announced the name of its fourth franchise on September 16, 2005. The city of Marion has its first professional indoor football team ever, and its first professional sports team in decades. Preparations for the Marion Mayhem's first season ensued with GLIFL co-founder Eric Spitaleri at the forefront of Mayhem operations until February 6, 2006, when it was announced at a press conference that new ownership had been found for the franchise. Since then, the Mayhem have flourished in the community's eyes. All of the work put into the team will come to the forefront on April 8, when they host Lehigh Valley. This is the third in a series of six team previews; one for each team in the new Great Lakes Indoor Football League.

4th Down and Long, LLC, owns the Mayhem. The group is headed by four childhood friends (R.A. Mallonn, Fred Horner, Tim Cugini, and John Slebodnik) and is charging ahead in preparation for April 8's kickoff. "It's a bit hectic," said Horner, "but it's going great right now. Everything's really picking up." In addition to the Mayhem itself, the Marion Dancing Divas dance team will be at each home game (and multiple community events) to excite crowds. Each game also will have a Mayhem-sponsored tailgate, with free hot dogs, contests, t-shirts, and even some free tickets given away. "We're not selling it as a football game," added Horner. "We're selling this as a ‘happening,' as an event. And, there's even a hard hitting football game to go along with it."

The Mayhem are also integrating themselves into the community. For a Big Brothers/Big Sisters Bowl-A-Thon, the team has donated tickets for different prize winners. The team will be available for autograph signings at different locations. They are involved in kicking off April 3's Walk For Life. "We're trying and succeeding in being a member of the community," said Horner.

But what about the team itself? Coach Tracy Smith calls it a work in progress. "We're still working on finding talent," he said. "But we have good players here right now. Guys are still fighting for spots on this roster, and that work will make this team better." The practices have been spirited because of these position battles. It helps the quality of play that no one's spot is safe. "It's been very hard to cut players," said Smith. "I still have more to cut. It's not easy to get down to 19. It's not easy telling a guy who has talent to play this game that he won't make our roster."

Marion's strength right now is at the skill positions. WR/DB Jeremy Werner has a chance to stand out on both sides of the ball. "He understands the game," said Smith. "He will help with the getting used to the 50-yard field, getting used to the walls." RB/LB Kevon Barbee is a key component to the Mayhem defense from the linebacker spot. Ali Grose will be a starting defensive back, and will provide stability back there.

"We have three guys at running back (Audry Scott, Marcus Allen, and Jeff Stone) who can do other things that will make our roster," said Smith. The offensive backfield may be stacked. The GLIFL allows two-back formations, so it is feasible to see two of the playing at some time. Marion's major weakness appears to be up front. "Our line worried me a lot," he added. "But, the technique is there, and the size is coming." The team is also looking at a couple of over 300 pound players to help beef up that line.

Marion's biggest problem might be their offensive coordinator spot. Former coordinator Keenan Leichty recently left the team to become the head coach at Calvert High School in Tiffin, OH. Smith will take over the play calling for the time being. "It hasn't hurt us all that bad," he added. "I've interviewed a couple potential coordinators over the phone, we should have one soon." Smith was a large contributor to the playbook and offensive goals of the team in the first place, so this move is not expected to adversely affect the team for any length of time.

The quarterback spot, often considered the most important in the indoor game, is still up for grabs. Any one of the group of Bobby Corlew, Ted Sauder, and Travis White could be named April 8's opening day starter. The other spot on the roster up for grabs is the placekicker. Fred Hallett is the player listed on the current roster (which will be different from April 8's game roster), but Andrew Kline has moved himself into contention for that spot. "We're lucky in that we have two solid kickers," said Smith.

Since announcing the team back in September, many people have been asking "where's Marion?" It is after all a small town, like most of the cities hosting GLIFL teams. But come April 8 conversation will be changed as fans begin to follow this exciting brand of professional football that will cumulate with Great Lakes Bowl I in July.

The Great Lakes Indoor Football League kicks off its inaugural season on Friday, April 7, with two games. The Battle Creek Crunch host the Port Huron Pirates, while the NY/NJ Revolution travel to Rochester to face the Raiders. Marion closes out the opening weekend on April 8 when they host the Lehigh Valley Outlawz. For more information about the league and the Quest for Great Lakes Bowl I, please visit the GLIFL website at www.glifl.com, or contact GLIFL Director of Media Relations Josh Stein at jstein@glifl.com.

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