|League||Continental Indoor Football League|
|Team history||Wheeling Wildcats
|Based in||Wheeling, West Virginia|
|Colors||Orange, Purple, White
|Head coach||Shawn Liotta|
The Wheeling Wildcats were a professional indoor football team located in Wheeling, West Virginia. The team began play in the Continental Indoor Football League during the 2009 season as an expansion team. The Wildcats are the second indoor football team to be based in Wheeling. The team filled the void left by the demise of the Ohio Valley Greyhounds, who played their final down of football in 2007. The owner of the Wildcats was Dave Bender. The Wildcats played their home games at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia.
In March 2008, it was announced that indoor football would be returning to Wheeling, West Virginia. Owner Dave Bender was debating on putting the team in Elmira, New York, but when he saw the opportunity to Wheeling, he couldn't pass it up. Bender also cited that the location of teams in the league were a large part of why the Wildcats joined the CIFL. The team tried to establish rivalries, challenging the Rochester Raiders to play the Wildcats in the Raiders' first home game. However, the Raiders have since left the CIFL for the newly established Indoor Football League, leaving the challenged unanswerable. In August, the team announced the signing of head coach Shawn Liotta, who had been coaching the Erie RiverRats of the American Indoor Football Association. In December 2008, the Wildcats announced the signing of former University of Pittsburgh standout quarterback, Rod Rutherford. The team also signed former NFL and Arena Football League player, Robb Butler to play receiver. With both Rutherford and Butler player together for Liotta in Erie the year before, the team's offense had high expectations. The Wildcats, as well as the rest of the CIFL, had an opportunity to get a higher caliber player in 2009, as the Arena Football League suspending its 2010 season. The reason that many of the AFL players did not make it onto the Wildcats roster was largely due to the players wanting more money than the CIFL would allow.
The Wildcats inaugural season began with a 55−47 road loss to the Marion Mayhem. Two weeks later, the Wildcats played their first home game against the Fort Wayne Freedom. The Freedom offense put on a good display, scoring on every drive except one, en route to defeating the Wildcats 49-34. The following week the Chicago Slaughter came to WesBanco Arena. The undefeated Slaughter had signed several of the Chicago Rush's players who were looking for a place to play with the AFL suspension. The Slaughter defeated the Wildcats 67-59. Four weeks into their season, the Wildcats were 0-4, and faced the also winless Miami Valley Silverbacks. The Wildcats were able to workout their first win against the traveling Silverbacks. The Wildcats would defeat the Silverbacks again three weeks later to make their record 2-6. The Wildcats lost their remaining 4 games of the season to Marion, Rock River, Fort Wayne and Wisconsin. Despite having a good roster, including several NFL, AFL and division one college players, and David Dinkins (who had previously played for AIFA teams in Erie, Pennsylvania, and won the 2005 AIFA MVP), the Wildcats went 2-10 and folded after one season. Liotta, Rutherford and Dinkins returned to Erie in 2010.
|Final score||Team record|
|2||March 13||7:30 P.M. EDT||at Marion Mayhem||L 47-55||0-1||Veterans Memorial Coliseum|
|4||March 28||7:30 P.M. EDT||Fort Wayne Freedom||L 34-49||0-2||WesBanco Arena|
|5||April 4||7:30 P.M. EDT||Chicago Slaughter||L 59-67||0-3||WesBanco Arena|
|6||April 11||7:30 P.M. EDT||at Milwaukee Bonecrushers||L 32-34||0-4||U.S. Cellular Arena|
|7||April 19||7:30 P.M. EDT||Miami Valley Silverbacks||W 52-28||1-4||WesBanco Arena|
|8||April 25||7:30 P.M. EDT||Marion Mayhem||L 57-61||1-5||WesBanco Arena|
|9||May 2||7:30 P.M. EDT||at Chicago Slaughter||L 38-61||1-6||Sears Centre|
|10||May 9||7:30 P.M. EDT||Miami Valley Silverbacks||W 33-13||2-6||WesBanco Arena|
|11||May 16||7:30 P.M. EDT||at Marion Mayhem||L 24-54||2-7||Veterans Memorial Coliseum|
|12||May 23||7:30 P.M. EDT||Rock River Raptors||L 34-46||2-8||WesBanco Arena|
|13||May 29||7:30 P.M. EDT||at Fort Wayne Freedom||L 42-82||2-9||Allen County War Memorial Coliseum|
|14||June 6||7:30 P.M. EDT||Wisconsin Wolfpack||L 46-49||2-10||WesBanco Arena|
2009 CIFL Standings
2009 Continental Indoor Football League
|Fort Wayne Freedom-x||6||5||0||.545||5||2||0||.294|
|Miami Valley Silverbacks||0||10||0||.000||0||7||0||.000|
|Rock River Raptors||7||5||0||.583||3||5||0||.167|
Logos and Uniforms
After deciding against using the Greyhounds name, and when "Ironmen" nickname (a nod to the city's former Continental Football League team) was unavailable, a naming contest was announced. Out of 175 entries, the name Wildcats was chosen.
Wheeling Wildcats roster
Rookies in italics
Coaches of note
Note: Statistics are correct through the end of the 2009 Continental Indoor Football League season.
Statistics and records
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|
|Totals||2||10||0||All-time regular season record (2009)|
|0||0||-||All-time postseason record (2009)|
|2||10||0||All-time regular season and postseason record (2009)|
- Mike Hughes (March 15, 2008). "Indoor Football Returning to Wheeling". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News-Register. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Mike Hughes (May 11, 2008). "New Team to be Called Wildcats". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News-Register. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Mike Hughes (August 6, 2008). "The Big Cat". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News-Register. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- "Liotta resigns as 'Rats' coach". www.goerie.com. Go Erie. August 6, 2008. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- "Wheeling Wildcats Sign QB Rod Rutherford for 2009 Season". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. December 12, 2008. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- "Wheeling Wildcats Sign Former NFL DB/WR Robb Butler for 2009". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. December 21, 2008.
- Mike Hughes (December 23, 2008). "Wildcats Add Butler to Roster". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News-Register. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Mike Hughes (January 10, 2009). "Wildcats Add To Roster". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News-Register. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- Mike Hughes (December 24, 2008). "AFL Won't Be Part Of Wildcats". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News-Register. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Tracy Watson (March 29, 2009). "Freedom score win in season's 1st road game". Journal Gazette. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- "Wildcats Fall to Chicago". The Intelligencer & Wheeling News-Register. April 5, 2009. Retrieved May 30, 2009.
- Jay Taft (May 23, 2009). "N:\Juno - Product Realization - Metals\0-RFQ\INVUITY". Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
- Stacy Clardie (May 30, 2009). "Defense steals show in Freedom’s blowout of Wheeling". Journal Gazette. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
- "Wheeling Wildcats Sign David Dinkins for 2009 Season". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. January 3, 2009. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- "Erie Storm Announces Return Of QB Rutherford". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. January 28, 2010. Retrieved June 5, 2012.