San Diego Strike Force 2020 Season Preview
SAN DIEGO, California - The Strike Force will open the 2020 IFL Regular Season with a Week 1 road trip to Bismarck, North Dakota to face the Bucks this Sunday, March 8 with a 12:05 PM PT kickoff.
The Strike Force finished the 2019 season 1-13 after the organization was a late addition to the Indoor Football League and missed out on the majority of the 2018-2019 offseason free agency period. With a full offseason under their belts as they get set to kick off 2020, Head Coach Burt Grossman has retooled his team's roster and coaching staff which has heightened his expectations on the field.
"Having a whole year to do a complete 180 has been eye-opening," said Grossman. "We only have four returners on our roster from last year and most of them joined the team after the start of the year. This is a whole new team, coaching staff, and organization."
The additions to the coaching staff include former San Diego Charger linebacker and Oakland Raiders assistant coach Sam Anno who will oversee the defensive line and linebackers, Offensive Line Coach Chris Bonta, and former IFL MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Jameel Sewell who will enter his third season of coaching in indoor football and serve as the Strike Force's offensive coordinator.
"Jameel's knowledge of the indoor game and his leadership has been an immediate impact within our coaching staff just two weeks into the season," said General Manager Ryan Eucker. "The way he communicates and teaches every position within his offense is something to see in the film room and on the practice field. We're fortunate to have him and are excited to see him lead our offense this season."
Defensive Coordinator Derek Dahlen and Defensive Backs and Special Teams Assistant Coach Armon Harvey have returned after joining the Strike Force late in the 2019 season.
The 25-man roster which has been set for the team's Week 1 trip to Bismarck is a mix of exciting young talent, experienced indoor players, and a few wily vets that have seen significant time on the NFL playing field.
The Strike Force offense is headlined by wide receiver and 2019 IFL Special Teams Player of the Year Marques Rodgers (5-10, 180, Western New Mexico) who enters his third professional season after racking up 2,229 all-purpose yards a year ago (third-most all-time in a single season). He'll be complemented by an all-new squad of skill players, including running back Nathaniel Chavious (5-10, 210, Sacred Heart) who was acquired as a restricted free agent from Cedar Rapids after racking up 1,256 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns last season.
At quarterback, the Strike Force will be led by two San Diego natives in Michael Carrillo (5-10, 200, San Jose State) and Rudy Johnson (6-0, 205, Winston-Salem State). Carrillo impressed the coaching staff at an open workout during the offseason and went on to earn his spot on the 25-man roster with a strong training camp. Johnson is a capable passer and impressive athlete who gained experience as a defensive back in the Canadian Football League after playing one season of indoor football in 2017 where he completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,583 yards and 44 touchdowns.
In the trenches, the Strike Force return one player on each side of the ball in defensive lineman Ralph Harvey (6-2, 250, Houston) and offensive lineman Zian Jones (6-5, 315, Syracuse). Harvey joined San Diego for the final six games of the 2019 season and recorded 40 total tackles (2nd on the team). Jones served as a two-way player last season and saw action in 12 total contests.
Cam Thomas (6-5, 330, North Carolina) and Manny Wright Sr. (6-5, 335, Southern California) will anchor the defensive line to open the 2020 IFL season. Thomas joins the Strike Force for his first IFL season and brings seven seasons of NFL experience after being a fifth-round pick in 2010 by the San Diego Chargers. Wright Sr. was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and was a member of the New York Giants Super Bowl XLII team.
"We made it a top priority in the offseason to get big and physical up front," said Strike Force General Manager Ryan Eucker. "Training camp provided some stiff competition between the two groups where we believe they had to line up against some of the best players in the league so we're looking forward to seeing them line up against some new faces this weekend."
The defensive secondary will be led by veteran E. J. Johnson (5-10, 195, Rockford) who joined San Diego halfway through the 2019 season and finished second on the team with 25 solo tackles. The Strike Force also acquired second-year back Micah Eugene Jr (5-11, 190, Southeastern Louisiana) from Tucson who appeared in 13 games and recorded 81 total tackles (ranked 5th in IFL).
The Strike Force will take on the Bismarck Bucks in Week 1 of the 2020 IFL Regular Season this Sunday, March 8th with a 12:05 PM. PT kickoff at the Bismarck Event Center. The game will be broadcast live on the IFL's YouTube Channel and local fans can join the Strike Force Watch Party at Cali Comfort BBQ located at 8910 Troy Street in Spring Valley.
Next Saturday, March 14th the Strike Force will host the Cedar Rapids River Kings at Pechanga Arena San Diego with a 6:05 PM PT kickoff. Tailgate activities will begin at approximately 2:00 PM with doors opening at 5:00 PM. Season and Group Tickets are still on sale for Strike Force home games starting as low as $12 per ticket. Parking is free on game days. For tickets, call or text the Strike Force at 619-340-1300 or visit www.sdstrikeforce.com for more information.
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