Norris has Battle Wings on cusp of ArenaCup
August 17, 2007 - arenafootball2 (af2) News Release
The idea of taking over a team that posted a 3-13 record the previous year and an overall record of 14-50 from 2003-2006 may seem to be a daunting notion to some Arena Football coaches, but that's not the case for Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings' Head Coach JON NORRIS.
The Battle Wings had nowhere to go but up in 2007.
After being passed over for head coaching positions in the Arena Football League, Norris landed on his feet in arenafootball2 and Bossier-Shreveport. In less than one year, he has been able to resurrect an organization and guide his team to 11 regular season wins; that number equals the total of Battle Wings' victories from 2004-2006.
"When I got here in October, we knew we had to build from the ground up," said Norris. "We had to develop a structure that was consistent with winning football games. We set a goal to reach the playoffs and we've obviously done that."
Not only has Norris' group reached the playoffs, they've been enjoying success thus far. With wins over the Arkansas Twisters, 62-40, and the Rio Grande Valley Dorados, 50-45, the resurgent Battle Wings are headed to the National Conference Championship game this Saturday, August 18 against the Tulsa Talons.
Not too bad for a team which won three games a year ago.
League expansion and divisional realignment prevented the Battle Wings and Talons from playing one another in 2007; however the two franchises are anything but strangers. Tulsa and Bossier-Shreveport have played each other nine times since 2001, but unfortunately for the Battle Wings, the Talons have been victorious in eight of those contests, including the last meeting, 53-14, on July 15, 2006. The Battle Wings' lone victory came all the way back on April 13, 2002, 27-14.
The Talons, an original af2 franchise, have never missed the playoffs in the eight-year history of the league. They captured ArenaCup4 in 2003 with a win over the Macon Knights, 58-40.
The man who is largely responsible for laying the foundation of rich tradition in Tulsa is none other than the man who will be roaming on the visitors' bench on Saturday with the Battle Wings - Jon Norris.
"It's a neat deal to be able to go back up there," said Norris. "I have a lot of fond memories of starting this thing up there. I had a lot of lunches and met a lot of folks. I showed the fans what this was all about because I was really the only Arena Football guy in town at that point," remarked Norris.
In 2000, Norris was referred to Talons' management by JIM FOSTER, the founder of the game of Arena Football. Norris coached that Talons team to a victory in their inaugural game, 53-36, over the Carolina Rhinos. It was a season filled with ups and downs, but Norris' offense averaged 52.7 points per game and his defense had 33 interceptions to lead the af2 that year. The rookie head coach led the Talons to a regular season record of 9-7 and the first playoff berth in team history.
After stops with Oklahoma, Dallas and Austin in the AFL, Norris is now the man in charge again and Saturday's game will undoubtedly be a special moment for Bossier-Shreveport. A victory would mean the first-ever berth in the ArenaCup for the Battle Wings, at home no less.
"It's a great opportunity for the fans here that have been so supportive of us," said Norris. "We're going to fight hard to get past a tough Tulsa team first because we've almost forgotten what it's like to play at home. We want to be there."
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