Erie Explosion

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Erie Explosion
ErieExplosion.png
Founded 2007
Current season 2014
League CIFL (2013-present)
UIFL (2012)
SIFL (2011)
AIFA (2007-2010)
Division North
Team history Erie Explosion (2011-present)
Erie Storm (2010)
Erie RiverRats (2008-2009)
Pittsburgh RiverRats (2007)
Based in Erie, Pennsylvania
Arena Erie Insurance Arena
Colors Black, orange, white
              
Owner(s) Bill Stafford
Head coach Shawn Liotta
Championships 2 (CIFL 2013, 2014)
Division titles 2 (2011, 2013)
Playoff berths 7: (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Dancers ERIEsistables
Website www.ErieExplosion.com

The Erie Explosion is a professional indoor football team based in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Explosion are currently a member of the North Division of the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL). The Explosion began play in 2007 as the expansion Pittsburgh RiverRats in the American Indoor Football Association before becoming the Erie RiverRats until 2010, when they became known as the Erie Storm. In 2011 the team (along with the rest of the eastern portion of the AIFA) joined the Southern Indoor Football League and, because of copyright issues, became known as the "Explosion". In 2012, they joined the United Indoor Football League after the SIFL broke up; the Explosion played one season in the UIFL. The Explosion are owned by Bill Stafford. The Explosion play their home games at the Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Franchise history[edit]

2007 Expansion[edit]

The Explosion began play in 2007 as the Pittsburgh RiverRats, playing that season's home games at the Rostraver Ice Garden in Rostraver Township, Pennsylvania.[1] The "RiverRats" name and logo were originally supposed to be used by the Reading Express, but that team chose the Express branding instead, freeing it up for use by another American Indoor Football League (AIFL) team.[2] In August, 2006, more arguments came about the RiverRats name as a team in the Eastern Indoor Football League, called the 3 River Rats, had intentions of suing the RiverRats to retain the naming rights of the team.[3]

On August 20, 2006, the RiverRats signed quarterback David Dinkins, formerly of the Erie Freeze of the AIFA, and designated him as the team's franchise player for the 2007 season.[4]

The RiverRats played their first game on February 3, 2007 on the road in Tupelo, MS, but lost 54-34 to the Mississippi Mudcats.[5] Their first home game was on February 18, 2007 which they lost 35-28 to the Reading Express. Pittsburgh won its first home game by beating the Danville Demolition 47-21 on March 4, 2007, and then won its first away game by beating Danville a second time, on March 9, 2007, by a score of 34-29.[6] On May 19, 2007, the RiverRats set an AIFA single game record when they scored 86 points in a single game.[7]

The team finished their inaugural season at a respectable 7-7 record, good for fourth place in the Northern Conference and a wild-card playoff berth.[8] However, the RiverRats were eliminated in the first round, losing 42-24 to the eventual conference champions Reading Express.[9]

2008 Moving to Erie[edit]

On January 8, 2008 the RiverRats announced they would be leaving the Mon Valley in favor of Erie for the 2008 season, renaming themselves the Erie RiverRats.[10] They replaced the city's previous AIFA team, the Erie Freeze.[11] The RiverRats have several Freeze connections, including many of the Freeze's best players: QB/WR David Dinkins, cornerback Jovon Johnson (himself an Erie native), kicker J.R. Cipra, center Jonathon Sitter, and defensive tackle Roosevelt Benjamin. AIFA owner Michael Mink stated that he considers the RiverRats to be a consolidation of the original RiverRats and the Freeze[12] with the team retaining the RiverRats name, franchise and management structure.

The RiverRats started the season 3–0 with Dinkins missing a game due to work obligations, that ultimately moved him to wide receiver so that Jarrod Highberger could start at quarterback.[13] After 3 starts with Highberger, the team had lost 2 games in a row, with the later being focused on Highberger's interceptions,[14] the team signed Rod Rutherford, a former NFL backup, as the starting quarterback.[15] Rutherford gave the offense an instant shot in the arm, as he guided the team to a 7–2 record the rest of the season, earning the 2nd seed in the Northern Division.[16] The RiverRats traveled to Reading for their playoff game, and were leading in the 4th quarter when the Express took a lead with 15.2 seconds remaining.[17] Erie was able to get the ball at the Express 9-yard line with 5.7 seconds remaining, but Rutherford was unable to score, throwing an incompletion and was intercepted on the last play, and returned 50-yards for a touchdown.[18]

At the end of the 2008 season, five RiverRats (QB Rod Rutherford, OL Anthony Peluso, K J. R. Cipra, LB Glenroy Watkins, & LB Roosevelt Benjamin) were named onto the AIFA Eastern Conference All-Star team.[19]

2009 Loss of Liotta[edit]

In August, 2008, Liotta resigned as coach of the RiverRats and left to coach the Wheeling Wildcats.[20] In September 2008, the RiverRats named Steven G. Folmar as the franchise's second head coach.[21] In December 2008, owner Jeff Hauser sold the team to a group of local businessmen, headed by Jeff Plyler, Bob Foltyn and Frank Herman.[22][23] The RiverRats had to replace many players on the roster, as most of the 2008 roster followed Liotta to Wheeling.[24] As a result of all the changes, the RiverRats struggled all season to score points, resulting in offensive coordinator Paul Pennington's resignation after an 0–3 start.[25] After dropping to 0–7, the RiverRats got their first win of the season on a last second field goal by Joe Lindway.[26] The RiverRats ended up finishing with a 3-11 record, and missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.[27]

2010[edit]

On September 8, 2009 the RiverRats announced that Liotta would return to Erie as the head coach for the 2010 season.[28] In December, it was announced that owner Jeff Hauser had sold a stake in the franchise to a local group that included Jeff Plyler (owner of Plyler Overhead Door of McKean, PA) and Bill Stafford (owner of several Subway restaurant locations in Erie), among others.[29] The team remained in the AIFA, and the team adopted the corporate name "Erie Professional Football, Inc." in December 2009, in anticipation of a new franchise name to be announced in January 2010.[30]

Hauser maintained a smaller stake in the team, which immediately dropped the RiverRats name. On January 5, 2010, the team announced the four finalists of the name-the-team contest; Storm, Blizzard, Pulse, and Punishers. On January 14, 2010 the team was officially named the Erie Storm via a press conference, in which the team logo and colors were also released.[31]

Aided by Dinkins's return, the briefly rechristened Storm rebounded to an 8-6 season in 2010, before losing to the Harrisburg Stampede in the playoffs.[32] Dinkins retired at the end of the season.[33]

On May 5, 2010, Lake Erie College based in Painesville, Ohio asked a court judge to order the Erie Storm not use the Erie Storm name due to similarities with their own name the Lake Erie College who's athletic nickname is the Storm.[34] In July 2010, the name "Storm" was dropped, and the team began functioning under the name "Erie Professional Football," which remains the name of the team's corporate entity.

2011 Move to the SIFL[edit]

The Tullio Arena scoreboard following the Explosion's record-setting game from 2011.

On December 3, 2010, the team announced its new identity as the Erie Explosion, including a new logo, but retaining the same color scheme as the Storm previously had. After dealing with the legalities of the previous name, the ownership of the Explosion have secured the legal trademark of the new name, ensuring that this will be the last re-brand in the foreseeable future.[35] The Erie Explosion was also one of 6 AIFA teams which were merged with the Southern Indoor Football League (SIFL) prior to the 2011 season.[36] The Explosion announced the signing of Quarterback, Adam DiMichele,[37] along with former local Erie Strong Vincent star, Maurice Williams,[38] and college star receiver David Ball.

On May 21, 2011, the Explosion set a single-game franchise record, including an unofficial indoor football record, for the most points scored in a 138-0 blowout win over the Fayetteville Force after the Force was forced to restock its team with scrubs in an ownership change.[39] The margin of victory is the third-highest in all of professional football, and the highest in over 100 years: only the 1903 Massillon Tigers (who won a game 148-0) and 1904 Watertown Red & Black (who won a game 142-0) have had wider margins of victory.

The Explosion finished the season with a 9–4 record, winning the Northeast Division, but were defeated 68–43 by the Albany Panthers in the first round of the playoffs.[40] Despite the playoff loss, DiMichele was named SIFL MVP, finishing the season with 91 touchdown passes.[41]

Erie was only one of the six charter AIFL markets to have continuously held an AIFL or AIFA team since the AIFL's founding in 2005, counting both the Freeze and the RiverRats/Storm.

2012 – Moving to the UIFL[edit]

On August 25, 2011, the Explosion left the SIFL and joined the United Indoor Football League. The change reunited Erie with Andrew Haines, who founded the city's previous indoor football team, the Erie Freeze.[42] (The Explosion's departure came two weeks before the SIFL broke up into the Lone Star Football League and the Professional Indoor Football League, neither of which included Pennsylvania in its territory.) Erie was tasked with replacing MVP quarterback DiMichele, who had signed with the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul.[43] The job fell on the shoulders of rookie Colton Hansen.[43] In the second game of the season, Hansen struggled in a loss to the Johnstown Generals, and he was replaced by A. J. McKenna.[44] McKenna led the Explosion to an 8–3 regular-season record, losing the top seed in the UIFL North during the last game of the season.[45] While still securing a home playoff game, the Tullio Arena had begun a 45-million-dollar renovation, which forced the Explosion to find a new place to host the game. The Explosion announced that they would play at Erie Cathedral Prep's Dollinger Field.[46] The Explosion trailed going into the fourth quarter against the Marion Blue Racers, but McKenna ignited the Erie offense to 22 points in the final stanza to advance to the UIFL North Conference final.[47]

The Explosion faced the Cincinnati Commandos, who had only lost two games all season, one of which was to Erie. With the Commandos' quarterback Tyler Sheehan out with an injury, the Commandos used Kynes Mincy at quarterback, who provided a duel-threat option. Mincy led the Commandos to eight scores, defeating the Explosion 62–40 to advance to the Ultimate Bowl.[48]

2013 Moving to the CIFL and Championship[edit]

The Explosion left the UIFL after the 2012 season. The team remained idle for about a month, while fielding offers to join four different leagues. Owner Bill Stafford ultimately decided to join the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL).[49] Liotta needed to replace McKenna, who had left Erie for the Saginaw Sting (also of the CIFL).[50] Liotta chose rookie Aaron Smetanka to lead the Explosion offense, and he did not disappoint.[51] The Explosion finished with an undefeated regular season record of 10-0 securing the 2013 CIFL regular season championship and the #1 seed in the leagues playoff format.[52] The Explosion hosted the Kentucky Xtreme in a league Semi-Final game May 5, 2013. They defeated the Xtreme 55&ndasph;6. The Explosion defense held the leagues number 1 offense to 1 first down in the first half. The Xtreme did not score until 13 minutes remained in the game. The defensive charge was led by Ricardo Kemp who had 2 interceptions in the game.[53] The Erie Explosion hosted the CIFL championship game on Mothers Day, May 12, 2013, where they beat the Sting, 37-36, to win the 2013 CIFL Championship Game. The 2013 CIFL Championship is the Erie Explosion's first championship, as well as the city of Erie's first championship in any league of indoor football.[54]

2014[edit]

In June, 2013, the Explosion agreed to terms with the CIFL to return for the 2014 season.[55]

Logos and uniforms[edit]

Players of note[edit]

Current roster[edit]

Erie Explosion roster
Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen

Linebackers

Defensive Backs

Kickers

Injured Reserve
  • Currently vacant

Exempt List

  • Currently vacant

Practice Squad

  • Currently vacant

Rookies in italics
Roster updated February 7, 2014
23 Active, 0 Inactive, 0 PS

More rosters

Awards and honors[edit]

The following is a list of all Pittsburgh/Erie players who have won league Awards

Season Player Position Award
2011 Adam DiMichele Quarterback SIFL MVP
2011 Kevin Concepcion Wide Receiver SIFL Offensive Player of the Year
2012 A. J. McKenna Quarterback UIFL Offensive Player of the Year
2013 Kwaheem Smith Defensive back CIFL Defensive Player of the Year
2014 Aaron Smentanka Quarterback CIFL Offensive Player of the Year

Coaches of note[edit]

Head Coaches[edit]

Note: Statistics are correct through the end of the 2014 CIFL season.

Name Term Regular Season Playoffs Awards
W L T Win% W L
Shawn Liotta 2007-2008
2010-present
60 20 0 .750 5 5 2012 UIFL North Coach of the Year
2013 CIFL Coach of the Year
Steven G. Fulmar 2009 3 11 0 .214 0 0

Coaching staff[edit]

Erie Explosion staff
Front Office
  • Director of Operations – Bill Stafford
  • Director of Sales - Shawn Struble
  • Head Coach/Director of Football Operations - Shawn Liotta

Head Coach

Offensive Coaches

 

Defensive Coaches

  • Defensive Coordinator/Player Personnel – Jeremy Liotta
  • Defensive Backs – Sam Reynolds
  • Defensive Line Coach- Al MaCauley
  • Assistant Coach- Kirk Rearick

Special Teams Coaches

  • Special Teams Coordinator - Ed Marin

Season-by-season[edit]

Season-by-season results[edit]

Note: The Finish, Wins, Losses, and Ties columns list regular season results and exclude any postseason play.

League Champions Conference Champions Division Champions Wild Card Berth League Leader
Season Team League Conference Division Regular season Postseason Results
Finish Wins Losses Ties
2007 2007 AIFA Northern 4th 7 7 0 Lost Quarterfinals (Express) 24-32
2008 2008 AIFA Eastern North 2nd 10 4 0 Lost Divisional Playoffs (Express) 57-67
2009 2009 AIFA North 5th 3 11 0
2010 2010 AIFA Eastern 3rd 8 6 0 Lost Eastern Division Playoff (Stampede) 48-52
2011 2011 SIFL Eastern Northeast 1st 9 3 0 Lost Round 1 (Panthers) 43-68
2012 2012 UIFL North 2nd 8 3 Won North Conference Quarterfinals (Blue Racers) 56-47
Lost North Conference Championship (Commandos) 42-60
2013 2013 CIFL 1st 10 0 Won Semifinals (Xtreme) 55-6
Won CIFL Championship Game (Sting) 37-36
2014 2014 CIFL North 2nd 8 2 0 Won North Division Championship (Sting) 46-15
Won CIFL Championship Game (Blue Racers) 38-26
Totals 63 36 0 All-time regular season record (2007–2014)
4 5 - All-time postseason record (2007–2014)
67 41 0 All-time regular season and postseason record (2007–2014)

* Season currently in progress

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Shawn Liotta (August 18, 2010). "Reading Express Moving to IFL". www.shawnliotta.com. Shawn Liotta. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ Jeff Oliver (August 7, 2006). "Legal fight looms over name". www.triblive.com. Trib Total Media, Inc. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  4. ^ "RiverRats sign 2005 AIFL MVP Dinkins". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. August 20, 2006. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  5. ^ "RiverRats Fall to Mississippi in Season Opener". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. February 7, 2007. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  6. ^ "RiverRats rally to beat Danville". www.triblive.com. Trib Total Media, Inc. March 10, 2007. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  7. ^ Jeff Oliver (May 21, 2007). "RiverRats score 86 to reach AIFA playoffs". www.triblive.com. Trib Total Media, Inc. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  8. ^ "RiverRats Prepare For First Round Playoff Matchup Against Reading". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. June 7, 2007. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
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  12. ^ "This Week in the AIFA radio show.". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. January 17, 2008. 
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  14. ^ "Interceptions hinder 'Rats in loss". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. April 12, 2008. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
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  24. ^ "Wheeling Wildcats Sign QB Rod Rutherford for 2009 Season". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. December 12, 2008. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
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  26. ^ Bob Jarzomski (May 11, 2009). "RiverRats kick winless label at buzzer". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
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  30. ^ "Indoor football a go in Erie for 2010". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. December 29, 2009. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  31. ^ "New Erie football nickname: Storm". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. January 14, 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Storm squander lead, fall in AIFA playoffs". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. July 3, 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  33. ^ Shawn Liotta (September 27, 2010). "Congratulations to David Dinkins". www.shawnliotta.com. Shawn Liotta. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  34. ^ Victor Fernandes (May 7, 2010). "Lake Erie College sues Storm over nickname". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Erie football team named Explosion". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. December 3, 2010. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Erie's indoor football now in SIFL". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. November 16, 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  37. ^ "Erie Explosion Sign QB Adam DiMichele for 2011". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. December 17, 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Maurice Williams Back in the Game with Erie Explosion". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. January 17, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  39. ^ Duane Rankin (May 22, 2011). "Erie Explosion set record in 138-0 win". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  40. ^ Duane Rankin (June 23, 2011). "Erie Explosion's record season ended in disappointment". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  41. ^ "Erie Explosion QB named indoor league MVP". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. July 9, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  42. ^ "Erie Explosion joins new league". www.goerie.com. Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. August 27, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  43. ^ a b John Dudley (March 1, 2012). "Erie Explosion count on new QB to lead way". www.goerie.com. Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  44. ^ Bob Jarzomski (April 1, 2012). "Debut dynamite for Erie Explosion QB McKenna". www.goerie.com. Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  45. ^ "Explosion stumble, lose top seed in playoffs". www.goerie.com. Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. June 11, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  46. ^ "Erie Explosion to play indoor football playoff game outdoors". www.goerie.com. Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. June 12, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  47. ^ Bob Jarzomski (June 17, 2012). "Explosion erupt in 4th to top Blue Racers in UIFL playoff game". www.goerie.com. Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  48. ^ "Explosion fall in UIFL playoffs". www.goerie.com. Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. June 24, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  49. ^ Bob Jarzomski (August 31, 2012). "Erie Explosion join new indoor football league". Erie Times-News. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  50. ^ Bob Jarzomski (February 2, 2013). "In new league, Explosion ready to open training camp". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  51. ^ "Rookie QB leads Explosion to win in season opener". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. February 18, 2013. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  52. ^ Bob Jarzomski (May 3, 2013). "Stokes makes big impact with Explosion". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  53. ^ Bob Jarzomski (May 6, 2013). "Erie Explosion advance to CIFL title game". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  54. ^ Bob Jarzomski (May 13, 2013). "Explosion nips Sting for CIFL title". www.goerie.com. CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  55. ^ Cory Butzin (June 10, 2013). "Continental Indoor Football League agree to terms with five teams for next season". www.mlive.com. MLive Media Group. Retrieved June 11, 2013. 

External links[edit]