Continental Indoor Football League

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Continental Indoor Football League
Current season, competition or edition:
2014 CIFL season
CIFL.PNG
Continental Indoor Football League logo
Formerly Ohio-Penn Indoor Football League
Great Lakes Indoor Football League
Sport Indoor football
Founded 2005
Owner(s) Stuart Schweigert
Jim O'Brien
Rob Licht
Claim to fame Longest current Indoor Football League
Inaugural season 2006
No. of teams 10
Country United States
Most recent champion(s) Erie Explosion (2nd title)
Most titles Cincinnati Commandos, Erie Explosion & Saginaw Sting (2 titles)
Sponsor(s) Adidas
All Night Affair
Báden
Divine Web Dezine
Hillier Studio
Impact Scouting
Impact Training
Insane Sportswear
Related competitions Indoor Football League
Professional Indoor Football League
Founder Eric Spitaleri
Jeff Spitaleri
Cory Trapp
Official website CIFLFootball.com
The CIFL's 2007 game ball
The CIFL's 2010 game ball

The Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL) is an indoor football league based along the Midwestern United States region. It began play in April 2006 as the Great Lakes Indoor Football League (GLIFL). It was formed by Jeff Spitaleri, his brother Eric, and a third member, Cory Trapp, all from the Canton, Ohio area.

The league was originally called the OPIFL (short for Ohio-Penn Indoor Football League), but then executives decided to increase the league's appeal to the entire Great Lakes region. So far, the league has been relatively successful, having a cumulative attendance of over 75,000 in the inaugural regular season.[1] However, the league, like other indoor football associations, has been plagued by folding franchises and unenforceable policies. For example, the 2006 champion Port Huron Pirates were found to have been paying some of their players over the league salary cap. 2007 saw several teams fold during the season, and during the 2008 season, the league's most successful team, the Rochester Raiders, moved to another league due to frustration over the failure of the league to provide notice of an opponent's forfeiture, resulting in lost ticket and advertising revenue. The league also failed to return the Raiders' owners' emergency fund deposit, which was collected specifically to protect against such occurrences.[2]

The CIFL is among several indoor football leagues that maintain a mostly regional operation, with most of its teams clustered in the Midwestern United States.[3] Teams have gone back and forth between the CIFL and the other regional leagues, as well as the Indoor Football League (a national league of similar caliber), over the course of the league's history.[4] The CIFL claims itself to be the longest continually operating current indoor football league in the United States, noting that older leagues such as the Arena Football League and American Indoor Football have suspended operations at least once since the CIFL's founding.

In July 2012, the CIFL changed ownership for the first time in its history, when Jeff Spitaleri sold the CIFL to Indoor Football Incorporated, which included Rob Licht, Jim O'Brien and Stuart Schweigert. The group is also the owner of the Saginaw Sting. The new ownership of the league looks to help current teams brand their product better, as well as look to expand the league, but its primary goal is to have competitive franchises.[5]

History[edit]

The Great Lakes Indoor Football League was founded in 2005 by brothers Eric and Jeff Spitaleri and their friend Cory Trapp.[6] The league's first franchise accepted was the Lehigh Valley Outlawz, who joined in late June, 2005.[7] During the league's first season, it cost a new owner a $15,000 franchising fee, with a capped salary of $5,400 per team, per week, with no player earning more than $300 per game.[8] While trying to attract teams, the league agreed to arena contracts before securing owners in efforts to attract owners in those specific market areas.[9] They reached agreements with markets in Danville, Illinois, Battle Creek, Michigan, Rochester, New York, Port Huron, Michigan, Toledo, Ohio and Marion, Ohio.[10] Of those markets, the league was able to sell ownership to four of them. In December, it was finalized that the league would begin with 6 teams in their inaugural season, with teach team playing a 10-game season over a 12 week span.[11] On April 7, 2006, the league held its first ever games with the Battle Creek Crunch hosting the Port Huron Pirates and the Rochester Raiders hosting the New York/New Jersey Revolution. The Crunch were defeated 62-22 by the Pirates,[12] and the Raiders defeating the Revolution 71-13.[13] The league's first ever playoff format was a 4-team set up with the #1 seed hosting the #4 seed, and the #2 seed hosting the #3 seed.[14] The semifinals featured a pair of blowout games, with Port Huron and Rochester advancing to Great Lakes Bowl I, which was to be played at McMorran Arena as Port Huron was the #1 seed on July 22.[15] The Pirates were able shut down the Raiders' offense for most of the second half earning a 40-34 victory for the Port Huron, thus completing the first ever undefeated season in league history.[16] At the conclusion of the first season, the league also put together an All-Star Game at Stabler Arena, where they split up 3 teams each for an East vs. West matchup. The West, dominated with a roster full of Port Huron's championship team.[17]

The 2007 season brought big changes, as the league changed its name to the Continental Indoor Football League,[18] and saw the league expand to 14 teams with only the Crunch not returning.[19]

Official rules and notable rule distinctions[edit]

The DCU Center during a 2007 New England Surge game.

Field Size – 50 yards long by 25 yards wide, with end zones a minimum of 5 yards in depth. Fields may vary in size due to physical constraints within facility, with CIFL permission. End zones may be rounded due to hockey board configurations. Padded dasher board walls around the entire field that act as an extension of the ground (only “out of bounds” if contact made by opposing player that forces player into the dasher wall, much like a ‘down by contact’ rule).

Goal Posts – Goal posts are 12 feet (3.7 m) from the floor to the crossbar. The crossbar is 10 feet (3.0 m) in width. Anything used to hang the goalpost is considered a part of the upright.

Number Of Players – Eight players per team on the field at one time. Starting in 2013 teams will be allowed to expand their active roster from 19 players up to 21 this year and are being required to carry a backup Quarterback and Kicker.[20] In the league's earlier years, the GLIFL/CIFL played with only seven players on each side.

Playing Time – Four 15-minute quarters with a running clock. Clock only stops for incomplete passes and out of bounds plays during the final minute of the second and fourth quarters. 25-second play clock.

Scoring – 6 points for TD, 2 points for run or pass conversion, or drop kick PAT, 1 point for place kick PAT, 2 points for defensive conversion following TD, 2 points for safety. 3 points for a field goal, 4 points for a drop kick field goal. Teams will score a single point on their kickoff if the ball makes its way through the uprights.[20]

Backfield in Motion – One player may be in motion in any direction behind the line of scrimmage prior to the snap.

Offensive Linemen – Three linemen must be in a three- or four-point stance prior to the snap. They must line up guard, center, guard and next to one another. Any offensive lineman not covered up by the fourth man on the line of scrimmage is an eligible receiver if he is wearing an eligible receiver number (1-49, 80-89).

Defensive Linemen – There must be three defensive linemen, and they must line up on the nose, or can line up inside foot-to-outside foot outside of an offensive lineman. Linemen must rush inside if nose up or slanted into if shaded, and they must make contact before any movement to the outside is made.

Blitzing – Only one non-lineman can blitz at a time. This player can blitz from any direction, but must be at least five yards off the line of scrimmage/goal line prior to the snap. Players do not have to announce their eligibility to blitz. Defensive Backs are not allowed to blitz[20]

Linebackers – At least two defensive players must line up at least 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The other two non-linemen must either line up face-to-face with an offensive non-lineman on the line, or be five yards behind the line of scrimmage. After the snap, this rule is eliminated and the players can roam anywhere they wish, provided it doesn’t violate blitzing rules. Linebackers can line up at the goal line if the offense is within five yards of scoring.

Kickoffs – If a kickoff leaves the field of play on the fly, the ball comes out to the 25-yard line. The sideline walls and end zone walls are not out of bounds, and balls can be played off of them. If a kickoff leaves the field of play after making contact with the field or a player on either team, the ball comes out to the 5-yard line, or the point in which it leaves the field of play, whichever is closest to the kicking team’s goal line.

Offense – No punting. Offense must attempt to gain a first down or touchdown, or may attempt a field goal (by placement or drop kick).

Coaches – Starting in 2013 coaches will be permitted to coach on the field again, which will improve communication between them and their players[20]

Overtime – Overtime is played with NCAA-style rules (each team gets one possession), but each possession is started with a kickoff rather than at the 25-yard line. Teams must go for a two-point conversion (by scrimmage play) starting with the third overtime session.

Co-ed play – Two female placekickers, Katie Hnida[21] and Julie Harshbarger,[22] have played for the CIFL. Excluding all-female leagues, the CIFL is one of only three professional football leagues (the Atlantic Coast Football League in 1970, the Indoor Football League in 2014)to have hired female players; the CIFL is the only league to have hired more than one, and the only one to have allowed its female players to score points.

Season structure[edit]

Since 2013, the CIFL season features the following schedule:

  • a 10-game, 12-week regular season running from February to April; and
  • a 6-team single-elimination playoff beginning in April, culminating in the CIFL Championship Game in May.

Traditionally, American high school football games are played on Friday nights, American college football games are played on Thursday nights and Saturdays, and most NFL games are played on Sunday. Because the CIFL season is played at a different season than the high school, college and NFL seasons, the CIFL schedules Friday, Saturday, Sunday and (new for 2013) Monday games.[23]

Exhibition season[edit]

During mini-camps in the winter, CIFL teams typically play one-to-two exhibition games from early January through early February. Each team is free to schedule these games, but all games must be approved by the league. No games are allowed within one week of the team's first regular season game. The games are useful for new players who are not used to playing indoor football.[24]

Regular season[edit]

Dontrell Jackson and J.R. Taylor of the Chicago Slaughter lining up for the snap against the Milwaukee Bonecrushers

Following the preseason, each of the ten teams embark on an twelve-week, ten-game schedule, with the extra weeks consisting of a bye to allow teams a rest sometime in the middle of the season. According to the current scheduling structure, the league schedule will be designed to minimize travel costs and create games that maximize the competitive advantages of each game as possible. Failure to provide the appropriate number of dates to the league office will have a significant outcome on the type of schedule a team receives. The league would like to release the schedule by October 1 of each year.[24]

The league had been using a scheduling formula to pre-determine which teams plays whom during a given season. Under the formula since 2010, each of the six teams' respective 10-game schedule consists for the following:

  • Each team plays 6-to-8 of the teams in the league, with the leftover amount of games scheduled against teams already played.
  • Each team will play 5 home games and 5 road games.

This format has been tweeked due to a travel team being in the year since 2009. The current rule reads:

  • The CIFL regular season consists of a schedule of 10 games for each team.[24]

This allows for travel teams to play all their games on the road, and gives every team in the league an extra home game for each travel team in the league.

Although this scheduling formula determines each of the ten teams' respective opponents, the league usually does not release the final regular schedule with specific dates and times until the winter; the CIFL needs several months to coordinate the entire season schedule so that, among other reasons, games are worked around various scheduling conflicts.

Playoffs[edit]

The CIFL has gone through many numbers of teams, so the playoff format has changed several times throughout the years. In the league's first season, 2006, the playoff format featured a 1-4 seed based on their W-L-T records. The one seed hosting the four seed, and the two seed hosting the three seed. The winners would advanced to the Great Lakes Bowl I, and the highest remaining seed would host. Due to expansion in 2007, the playoff format was expanded to 8 teams making the playoffs. The top team in each division would clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The rest are Wild Card teams that are seeded second through fourth. From that point the matchups would remain the same as the previous year, with the exception of the winners of each divisional playoff would meet in the CIFL Championship Game. In 2009, the league returned to its original format of a 4-team playoff. This stayed in place until 2012, when the league decided to just have the regular season first and second seeds meet for the Championship.[25]

CIFL Championship Game history[edit]

The 2009 Chicago Slaughter CIFL Championship banner
Year Winner Loser Score
2006 Port Huron Pirates Rochester Raiders 40-34
2007 Rochester Raiders Port Huron Pirates 37-27
2008 Saginaw Sting Kalamazoo Xplosion 41-37
2009 Chicago Slaughter Fort Wayne Freedom 58-48
2010 Cincinnati Commandos Wisconsin Wolfpack 54-40
2011 Cincinnati Commandos Marion Blue Racers 44-29
2012 Saginaw Sting Dayton Silverbacks 35-7
2013 Erie Explosion Saginaw Sting 37-36
2014 Erie Explosion Marion Blue Racers 38-26

All-Star game[edit]

The league had put on an All-Star game in 2006, but it has since not put the event on again.

Teams[edit]

Current[edit]

Map of teams competing in the CIFL

The CIFL consists of ten clubs. Each club is allowed a maximum of twenty-five players on their roster, but may only dress twenty-one to play each week during the regular season. eight teams are in the Eastern Time Zone and two are in the Central Time Zone.

The Saginaw Sting are the franchise with the most time in the league, having completed their fourth season at the end of 2014. The Erie Explosion is the league's oldest team; it has been in operation since 2007 and joined the league in 2013. It was speculated that there would be a potential for a merger with the American Professional Football League in 2013,[26] but this never came to fruition. For the 2014 season, the league will be split into two division for the first time since 2009. For the 2014 season, the teams were aligned as follows:

Chart notes
An asterisk (*) denotes a franchise move. See the respective team articles for more information.

Former[edit]

In its early years, the CIFL was a very unstable and somewhat informal organization, but it grew annually very well. Many teams entered and left the league annually, with the worst instance of teams exiting occurring when the new Indoor Football League was formed and the league lost five teams. The league has been able to field at least six teams in each year of its existence, gaining and losing teams each year from both expansion and teams shifting leagues. With the league's purchase in 2012, the league saw stability grow again as the league expanded from 6 teams to 11.[27]

Expansions and contractions[edit]

Year # of teams Expansion teams Folded teams Suspended teams Moved teams Relocated teams Name changes
2006 6 Battle Creek Crunch
Lehigh Valley Outlawz
Marion Mayhem
New York/New Jersey Revolution
Port Huron Pirates
Rochester Raiders
2007 14 Chesapeake Tide
Chicago Slaughter
Kalamazoo Xplosion
Miami Valley Silverbacks1
Muskegon Thunder
New England Surge
Springfield Stallions3
Steubenville Stampede3
Summit County Rumble3
Battle Creek Crunch Motor City Reapers Port Huron Pirates → Michigan Pirates
2008
15 Flint Phantoms
Fort Wayne Freedom
Milwaukee Bonecrushers
Rock River Raptors
Saginaw Sting
Springfield Stallions
Steubenville Stampede
Summit County Rumble
Michigan Pirates

Motor City Reapers

2009
8 Wheeling Wildcats
Wisconsin Wolfpack
Flint Phantoms
Lehigh Valley Outlawz
New England Surge
Kalamazoo Xplosion
West Virginia Wild
Chesapeake Tide2
Muskegon Thunder2
New Jersey Revolution4
Rochester Raiders2
Saginaw Sting2[4]
2010
6 Cincinnati Commandos
Fort Wayne FireHawks
Fort Wayne Freedom
Rock River Raptors
Wheeling Wildcats
Chicago Slaughter2 Milwaukee Bonecrushers → Chicago Cardinals
2011
6 Indianapolis Enforcers
Marion Blue Racers
Port Huron Predators
Marion Mayhem Fort Wayne FireHawks
Wisconsin Wolfpack
Chicago Cardinals → Chicago Knights
Miami Valley Silverbacks → Dayton Silverbacks
2012
6 Chicago Vipers
Evansville Rage
Port Huron Patriots
Saginaw Sting6
Chicago Knights
Port Huron Predators
Cincinnati Commandos5
Marion Blue Racers5
2013
10 Dayton Sharks
Detroit Thunder
Erie Explosion6
Kane County Dawgs
Kentucky Drillers6
Kentucky Xtreme
Marion Blue Racers6
Chicago Pythons
Indianapolis Enforcers
Cincinnati Commandos6 Evansville Rage → Owensboro Rage
2014
10 Bluegrass Warhorses
Chicago Slaughter
Northern Kentucky River Monsters
Kane County Dawgs
Kentucky Drillers
Owensboro Rage
Chart notes
  1. Moved from the American Indoor Football Association.
  2. Moved to the Indoor Football League - Note the Raiders had originally gone to the AIFA.[28][29]
  3. The league took over operations and ceased for failure to meet league requirements.
  4. Moved to the American Indoor Football Association
  5. Moved to the Ultimate Indoor Football League
  6. Moved from the Ultimate Indoor Football League

Media[edit]

Television[edit]

The league does not have its television rights sold to a network, such as the Arena Football League with the CBS Sports Network. Individual teams are free to work out deals with their local affiliates to broadcast their games.

Radio[edit]

Each CIFL team usually works out its own radio network deal with local stations, and the stations employ its announcers. Nationally, the CIFL is heard on the CIFL Radio Network, which can be used online via the CIFL GameCenter on the league's website.

Internet and new media[edit]

In 2010, the CIFL introduced the CIFL GameCenter which allows statisticians wired to into the CIFL Network. As they use the stat software to record the game, it is updated live in the GameCenter.

Player contracts and compensation[edit]

Milwaukee Bonecrushers' Quarterback Ryan Maiuri taking a snap against the Chicago Slaughter in 2008.

Salaries[edit]

Base player salaries must be no less than $50 per game and no more than $200 per game. There are no win bonuses since the 2010 season, as agreed at the owner meetings.[24]

Salary cap[edit]

For the 2010 season, the weekly team salary cap is $3,000 per week. Any team in violation of the salary cap will be fined and could have either players suspended for the season or forfeiture of games in which they violated the cap.[24] Since then, the league has changed to a weekly salary cap of $2,500 per week, with every player making anywhere from 50 to 200 dollars in a single game.[3]

Awards[edit]

Past winners[edit]

2014 MVP, Thomas McKenzie.

2006[edit]

2007[edit]

2008[edit]

2009[edit]

2010[edit]

2011[edit]

2012[edit]

2013[edit]

2014[edit]

Cheerleading[edit]

All of the CIFL teams are supported by their own professional cheerleading squads. These squads attend games and promote the team.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Home of the Continental Indoor Football League". CIFLFootball.com. Retrieved March 18, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Rochester Raiders To Withdraw From CIFL". Our Sports Central.com. OurSports Central. June 8, 2008. Retrieved September 22, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Steve Jones (September 5, 2012). "Kentucky Xtreme plans to bring arena football back to Freedom Hall". Courier-Journal. Retrieved September 7, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Mancina, Greg (September 12, 2008). "Saginaw Sting ready to join new league while owners work to split their differences". The Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan: Booth Newspapers). Retrieved October 16, 2008. 
  5. ^ Kyle Austin (July 10, 2012). "Saginaw Sting ownership group buys Continental Indoor Football League". www.mlive.com. M Live. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  6. ^ Stacy Clardie (June 20, 2009). "League’s founder enjoys challenge of running CIFL". www.journalgazette.net. The Journal Gazette. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ "GLIFL announces first franchise". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. June 29, 2005. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  8. ^ Jay Hart (April 21, 2006). "Lehigh Valley Outlawz want to steal fans' hearts.Can they do it?". www.mcall.com. The Morning Call. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  9. ^ "GLIFL reaches arena agreements". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. June 30, 2005. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  10. ^ "More arena agreements announced". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. July 15, 2005. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  11. ^ "GLIFL Conducts First Owners Meeting". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. December 12, 2005. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Crunch Lose Opener to Pirates". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. April 8, 2006. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  13. ^ James Johnson (April 8, 2006). "Raiders roll to big-time victory in their debut". www.democratandchronicle.com. Gannett. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  14. ^ "GLIFL Playoffs Round One Preview". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. July 7, 2006. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  15. ^ "GLIFL Playoffs Round One in Review". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. July 12, 2006. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Pirates finish undefeated campaign with 40-34 win". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. July 23, 2006. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  17. ^ "West All-Stars win GLIFL All-Star Game 49-17". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. August 7, 2006. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  18. ^ "CIFL Looks at Past, Towards Future". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. October 16, 2006. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  19. ^ Randy Snow (December 20, 2006). "2006 Football Year in Review". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c d Aaron Black (October 26, 2012). "CIFL Concludes Annual Meeting, Sets Vision for Future". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  21. ^ Hayes, Reggie (March 31, 2010). "FireHawks' new kicker rekindling her dream". The News-Sentinel. Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  22. ^ Marc Correnti (June 26, 2010). "Harshbarger gets her kicks". Beloit Daily News. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  23. ^ "CIFL Releases 2013 Regular Season Schedule". www.ciflfootball.com. Continental Indoor Football League. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b c d e "2010 CIFL Operations Manual". Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  25. ^ Kyle Austin (May 11, 2012). "CIFL shortens playoff format, put Saginaw Sting in league title game". www.mlive.com. M Live. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  26. ^ Joseph Hayes (November 23, 2011). "Continental Indoor Football League making much-needed changes". The Time Herald. 
  27. ^ Joseph Hayes (October 2, 2012). "Joseph Hayes: CIFL adds teams, headed in right direction?". The Time Herald. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  28. ^ Nilsen, Dan (June 8, 2008). "Flint Phantoms forfeit CIFL finale; opponent quits league". Flint Journal (Booth Newspapers). Archived from the original on June 10, 2008. Retrieved June 9, 2008. 
  29. ^ "Indoor Football League Invites Five Teams To Join; 23 Teams Now In League". oursportscentral.com. Our Sports Central. September 12, 2008. Retrieved September 22, 2008. 

External links[edit]