Week 18 IPFL preview

by IPFL Press Release
August 4, 2000 - Indoor Professional Football League (IPFL)

WEEK 18 IPFL PREVIEW

IPFL Press Release

August 3, 2000 - The Indoor Professional Football League (IPFL) regular season championship and two of the three IPFL playoff spots are still up for grabs heading into the final two weeks of the 2000 season. Although the regular season champion will not be decided until the final week, the two remaining playoff berths can be claimed in week 18 action Saturday night.

Mississippi (9-5), which has already clinched a playoff berth, travels to Shreveport-Bossier (4-10) for a 7:30 p.m. Central Time kickoff in Hirsch Coliseum. Idaho (5-9) welcomes Mobile (8-7) for a 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time kickoff in the Bank of America Centre in Boise. In the game of the week, Portland (9-5) hosts Omaha (8-6) in a 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time kickoff in Memorial Coliseum.

Portland and Omaha both control their own destiny with regard to securing a playoff berth. With two games remaining, each team needs just one more win to punch its ticket to the 2000 IPFL playoffs. As a result, the winner of Saturday's confrontation will claim one of the two remaining playoff bids. If Mobile loses at Idaho, Portland would claim a spot in the playoffs regardless of the outcome of Saturday's game with Omaha. Therefore, if Idaho and Omaha win, the participants in the IPFL playoffs will be finalized.

Mobile and Louisiana need help to get into the playoffs. Mobile needs to win at Idaho and have the loser of Saturday's Omaha vs. Portland game lose its last game next week. In addition to winning its final game next week against Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana needs Omaha to lose its last two games and Mobile lose this week at Idaho.

As for the regular season championship, a Portland victory would eliminate Omaha in the race for first. Mississippi owns the tiebreaker in the event of a two-way tie between Portland and Mississippi. Therefore, Mississippi is the only team that controls its own destiny with regard to winning the regular season championship. If the Fire Dogs win out, they will be the IPFL regular season champs. After this week, Portland ends the season on the road with a game at Idaho, while Mississippi finishes up at home against Omaha.

Portland and Omaha will meet for the final time in their four-game season series. The Prowlers lead the series 2-1. They won the first meeting 43-23 back in week three as Portland's defense held Omaha to just seven first downs and 103 yards of total offense. In week 10, Omaha scored 31 first half points and held on for a 34-30 win, despite 363 yards of total offense from Portland. The following week Portland quarterback Erik Wilhelm (6-3, 217) passed for eight touchdowns and a league-record 304 yards as the Prowlers posted a 67-54 win in the third meeting in the season series.

Since posting the third-highest point production in league history, the Prowlers have gone just 2-2. They enter this week's game coming off a bye, while Omaha comes in on the heels of last week's 35-27 loss at Louisiana, which snapped the Beef's three-game winning streak.

Wilhelm's passing is one challenge Omaha has yet to solve. In three games against the Beef, Wilhelm is a combined 72-106-4 passing for 772 yards and 17 touchdowns. Wilhelm's arm is a major reason why the Prowlers lead the league in total offense, averaging a league-high 245.3 yards per game. That doesn't bode well for an Omaha defense that is ranked last in both total defense (surrendering a league-high 259.4 yards per game) and pass defense (giving up a league-high 208.1 yards per game). Omaha's best counter is its league-leading rushing offense, which averages a league-high 76.2 yards per game.

Aside from total offense, Portland also leads the league in turnover margin, averaging +1.57 per game. The Prowlers' offense has surrendered a league-low total of 20 turnovers (11 fumbles and a league-low nine interceptions), while the Portland defense has forced a league-high total of 42 turnovers (12 fumbles and 30 interceptions).

Among the individual statistics, Wilhelm leads the league in pass rating (117.8), completions (290), completion percentage (62.6) and passing touchdowns (56). On the season he is 290-463-9 passing for 2,712 yards. His primary outlets are running back Glenn Vereen (5-11, 195) and wide receivers Chad Carlson (6-0, 195), Trent Waibel (6-5, 225) and Arthur Williams (5-11, 175). Carlson has 68 receptions for 787 yards and 16 touchdowns. Waibel has 62 receptions for 561 yards and 11 touchdowns. Williams has 43 receptions for 442 yards and nine touchdowns. Vereen has a combined 14 touchdowns off 349 yards rushing and 345 yards receiving.

Omaha's defense is paced by its secondary, which features Lamar O'Neal (6-2, 195), Steve Lovell (5-9, 155), Thomas Williams (5-11, 185) and Shanon Yates (6-0, 210). Together they have combined for a total of 288 tackles, 44 passes defended and 20 interceptions.

On offense the Beef pound the ball with the talented running back tandem of Calvin Jones (5-11, 210) and Clinton Childs (6-1, 230). Childs has averaged 3.8 yards per carry while rushing for 407 yards and eight touchdowns. Jones has averaged 4.6 yards per carry while rushing for 333 yards and nine touchdowns. In addition to his rushing, Jones has returned four of his nine kickoff returns for touchdowns. Quarterback Troy Travis (6-3, 240) is 136-272-13 passing for 1,340 yards and 27 touchdowns.

Defensive back Antonio Sparrow (6-2, 200), who already has established a league single-season interception record with 10 and counting, heads up the Prowlers' opportunistic defense. Sparrow has teamed with fellow defensive backs Jake Capdeville (6-1, 210), Hassan Probherbs (5-11, 170) and Milton Myers (5-11, 150) for a combined total of 294 tackles, 34 passes defended and 27 interceptions.

Mobile and Idaho will square off for the final time in their two-game season series. Last week Mobile had a record-setting night in its 63-7 win over Idaho. In addition to posting the largest margin of victory in league history, eight other league records were either tied or broken.

Running back Antoine Flowers (5-9, 175) broke the IPFL single-season scoring record with 180 points. Flowers scored two rushing touchdowns, giving him a season total of 21, which ties him for the most rushing touchdowns in a season. Defensive back Dennison Robinson (6-0, 185) was named the IPFL Defensive Player of the Week for establishing a new league single-game interception mark with four. The four picks also tied Robinson for the season interception record, which is 10 and counting. Mobile's defense forced Idaho into throwing a league single-game record seven interceptions. Return specialist "Baby" James Matthews (5-4, 160) returned two missed field goals for touchdowns, which is both a league single-game and season record. Matthews also finished with a league single-game record 99 field goal return yards.

This time around Idaho will field a much-improved team. Last week the Stallions were without the services of several standout players, including defensive backs Chris Cook (6-2, 200) and DaWuan Miller (6-3, 195). In addition to the return of Cook and Miller, the Stallions are also expected to welcome back defensive end Cliff Robinson (6-4, 245), who led the league in sacks last season with a total of 15.

The Seagulls enter this week's game having won five out of their last seven games, while Idaho has dropped four straight. Among the team statistics, Mobile leads the league in scoring defense (surrendering a league-low 33.0 points per game), total defense (giving up a league-low 156.8 yards per game) and rushing defense (yielding a league-low 33.6 yards per game). Conversely, Idaho is ranked last in both scoring defense (surrendering a league-high 42.7 points per game) and rushing defense (giving up a league-high 77.9 yards per game). Both teams have been hit hard by turnovers. Idaho, which is ranked last in turnover margin at -1.14 per game, has committed 41 turnovers (nine fumbles and a league-high 32 interceptions), while Mobile has yielded a league-high total of 43 turnovers (a league-high 15 fumbles and 28 interceptions).

Mobile's defense is headed up by Dennison Robinson, who has 19 passes defended and is tied for the league interception lead with 10. In front of him is the defensive line trio of Terrance "Tiny" Simmons (6-5, 295), Raymond Nobles (6-1, 301) and Joey Duplan (6-6, 265), which has combined for a total of 36 tackles for a loss and 16.5 sacks. Idaho's ringleader on defense is linebacker Brian Smith (5-11, 225), the IPFL's all-time leading tackler with 230 and counting. Smith leads the league in tackles with an IPFL season record of 150 and counting.

Both team's quarterbacks are a double threat to either run or pass. Idaho's Albert Higgs (6-1, 210) has rushed for 249 yards and 13 touchdowns and passed for 2,076 yards and 35 scores. Mobile's Kelvin Simmons (6-1, 203) has rushed for 316 yards and six scores and passed for 1,770 yards and 24 touchdowns. Simmons' top target is Flowers, who in addition to leading the league in scoring has 462 yards rushing and 496 yards receiving. The Seagulls' wide receiver combo of Alex Howell (6-2, 196) and Ryan Blakely (5-11, 175) has combined for 111 receptions for 1,347 yards and 10 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Idaho's top two receivers, Antwan Wilson (5-9, 190) and Ricky Ross (6-0, 195), have combined for 984 yards receiving.

Mississippi and Shreveport-Bossier will do battle for the final time in their three-game season series. Mississippi leads the series 2-0, having won 57-17 back in week seven and 49-34 last week. Mississippi's initial win in the series started the Fire Dogs' run from last to first in the league standings. During that span Mississippi has won eight out of nine games, including its last five straight.

In last week's victory, quarterback John Fourcade (6-2, 225) passed for 266 yards and five touchdowns and wide receiver Kenny Causey (6-1, 190), the IPFL Offensive Player of the Week, had 257 all purpose yards (154 receiving and 103 returning) and two touchdowns. The Fire Dogs' offense racked up 16 first downs, 266 yards of total offense and 30:40 in time of possession, while the defense forced three turnovers (two fumbles and one interception) and held Shreveport-Bossier to just eight first downs and 92 yards of total offense.

The lone bright spot for the Bombers in last week's loss was defensive back Chris Samson (6-0, 210), who had three interception, broke up a pass and registered a game-high 13 tackles (eight unassisted and five assisted).

Among the team statistics, Mississippi leads the league in scoring offense (averaging a league-high 42.4 points per game), pass offense (averaging a league-high 198.0 passing yards per game) and pass defense (giving up a league-low 114.4 passing yards per game). Shreveport-Bossier, on the other hand, is ranked last in scoring offense (averaging a league-low 26.7 points per game), total offense (averaging a league-low 153.2 yards per game) and pass offense (averaging a league-low 99.4 yards per game).

In addition to being the Fire Dogs' starting quarterback, Fourcade also serves as Mississippi's head coach and general manager. His 18-13 coaching record makes him the winningest head coach in league history. As a player he ranks as the IPFL's all-time leader in both passing (4,980 yards and counting) and total offense (5,183 yards and counting). This season Fourcade leads the league in passing yards (2,810), passing yards per game (200.7), total offense yards (2,882) and total offense yards per game (205.9). To date he has completed 57.5 percent of his passes while passing for 55 touchdowns.

Shreveport-Bossier's defense has had little success against Fourcade this season. In the first two games in the series, Fourcade has passed for a combined 455 yards and 11 touchdowns. Fourcade's primary outlet is Causey, who hails as the IPFL's all-time leader for both receiving (2,005 yards and counting) and all purpose (4,036 yards and counting). Causey leads the league in receptions (103), receiving yards (1,224), receiving touchdowns (20), receptions per game (7.36), receiving yards per game (87.4), field goal return yards (304), all purpose yards (2,589) and all purpose yards per game (184.9). Wide receiver Lamont Woodberry (6-3, 215) has added 77 receptions for 775 yards and 13 touchdowns, while running back Buster Browne (6-2, 230) has scored 19 touchdowns.

Defense is the Bombers' heart and soul. Defensive lineman Michael Moncrief (6-2, 235) leads the league in tackles for a loss (28), sacks (13.5) and fumbles forced (three). In the secondary, Samson and Anthony Montgomery (5-9, 190) have combined for 151 tackles, 32 passes defended and 15 interceptions.

Mississippi's top three defenders are defensive backs Quincy Sorrell (5-11, 190), Kevin Bouis (6-0, 205) and Eugene Ridgley (6-2, 195). Together the Fire Dogs' trio has accounted for 198 tackles, 26 passes defended and 11 interceptions. Their mission Saturday night will be to slow down Shreveport-Bossier's receiving tandem of Terry Savannah (6-2, 200) and Tacoma Fontaine (6-0, 190). Together the Bombers' duo has accounted for 104 receptions for 1,062 yards and 14 touchdowns.

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