|Arena||Verizon Wireless Arena|
|Based in||Manchester, New Hampshire|
|Owner(s)||Big Win Ventures LLC|
|Head coach||Danton Barto|
|Playoff berths||2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009|
The Manchester Wolves were a professional arena football team, based at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, which folded at the end of the 2009 season along with the rest of the league. They played in the East Division of the American Conference of the af2 league, which was the minor league of the Arena Football League.
On December 12, 2001, Mohegan Sun and Dr. Eric Margenau, President/Chief Executive Officer of United Sports Ventures, announced that the new Uncasville, Connecticut expansion af2 franchise would be named the Mohegan Wolves. Margenau introduced Gary Porter, as the head coach for the team that would first take the field April 5, 2002 at the Mohegan Sun Arena against the Albany Conquest. Gary Porter, previously led the expansion Peoria Pirates to a 7-9 record in 2001.
The team name was selected through a “Name the Team” contest sponsored by WCTY, Mohegan Sun and X-Tra Mart. A Jewett City, Connecticut resident, came up with the winning name. The winner won four season tickets for the 2002 Mohegan Wolves season, dinner for four on the night of the team’s first home game, and a team merchandise package.
On February 6, 2003, the af2 league office announced that Big Win Ventures LLC would now be the operator of the Mohegan Wolves. Dr. Margenau, the former principal operator of the Mohegan Wolves, assumed the role of President of Big Win and remained a substantial shareholder. Big Win, which is privately held, also announced the same day that it has assumed operations of the Albany Conquest af2 franchise.
For the 2003 season, AFL veteran head coach Mark Stoute led the Wolves and dramatically improved their record. The team finished with a 10-6 regular season record (which included a 7-1 home record) and won their first postseason game on August 2, 2003 against the Atlantic Division Champion Cape Fear Wildcats 50-47. The season ended the next week on August 8, 2003 with a 47-30 loss to the Tennessee Valley Vipers.
On October 29, 2003, the league office approved the relocation of the Mohegan Wolves team to Manchester, NH. The Wolves’ move to Manchester was made possible through the efforts of a group of local businessmen and Dr. Margenau. The team of local investors was led by longtime area resident Steve Schubert, a former player for the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears.
During the first season in Manchester, NH, the new head coach, Rik Richards, was first fired midway through the season and replaced by his coordinator Ron Hill. And assistant coaches Mark Page and Ryan Ray. The Wolves finished out the season with a 5-11 record.
New coach/Turn around
Things turned around in 2005 with new head coach, Ben Bennett. Bennett, a veteran coach and player with Arena Football and af2 transformed the Manchester team to a 12-4 regular season record and won the East Division. The regular season included a 10-game win streak. The season ended with a first round playoff loss at home on August 12, 2005 against the Louisville Fire 56-69.
In 2006, the Wolves had loftier expectations because of many key players and Head Coach Ben Bennett returning. The team had issues at Quarterback however as D. Bryant and Kyle Rowley were ineffective while trying to fill the shoes of the 2005 starter and current Jake Eaton. With four games remaining in the season and the team sitting at 5-7, Coach Bennett turned to former Ohio State Quarterback Steve Bellisari. A failed defensive back in the NFL, Bellisari took over of the Wolves offense and led them to four straight victories which took the Wolves from the bottom of the division to making the playoffs and hosting a first round game.
Bellisari found his favorite target Steve Gonzalez and the Wolves had a defense with the tandem of William Haith and Allistair Sebastien as the Wolves got a 55-47 win against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers in front of 3,732 fans at Verizon Wireless Arena. The Wolves season would end one week later in Florida however as Steve Bellisari was driving the Wolves down the field late in the fourth quarter when he threw his last pass as a Wolf, a game-sealing interception to the Florida Firecats. The final score was Florida 40, Manchester 39.
In 2007 HAVOC announced a partnership with the Wolves as well as other AFL teams.
With rumored reports of the af2 resuming operations in 2014 or 2015, the Wolves may be the one of the defunct teams to begin playing again. The Wolves coming back could bring potential to Manchester, with the Verizon Wireless Arena being one of the more eligible candidates to host the ArenaCup.
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties
|2002||3||13||0||5th AC Northeast||--|
|2003||10||6||0||2nd AC Northeast||Won AC Round 1 (Cape Fear 50-47)
Lost AC Semifinal (Tennessee Valley 47-30)
|2004||5||11||0||4th AC Northeast||--|
|2005||12||4||0||1st AC East||Lost AC Semifinal (Louisville 69-56)|
|2006||9||7||0||2nd AC East||Won AC Round 1 (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 55-47)
Lost AC Semifinal (Florida 40-39)
|2007||10||6||0||2nd AC East||Lost AC Round 1 (Central Valley 42-41)|
|2008||9||7||0||2nd AC East||Won AC Round 1 (South Georgia 46-42)
Won AC Semifinal (Green Bay 55-54)
Lost AC Championship (Tennessee Valley 45-35)
|2009||7||9||0||2nd AC East||Lost AC Round 1 (Iowa 70-53)|
- David Bailey – WR/S
- Steve Bellisari – QB/S
- D. Bryant – QB
- Lamar Bryant – OL/DL
- William Haith – DS
- James Pinkney – QB
- Dylan Pohlman – K
- Mike Potts – QB
- Rich Ranglin – OL
- Kyle Rowley – QB
- Emery Sammons – WR
- HAVOC announces a distribution deal with the Manchester wolves. (2007, Dec 17). Business Wire, pp. n/a.