CLEARWATER TRIBUNE HOME
AUGUST 5, 2010
AIFA Founder John Morris
(left) presents the AIFA national championship trophy to Chris Simpson,
Orofino graduate leads team to national title
Little did the Baltimore Mariners Head Coach know how emphatically his team would reach that goal. Playing in front of a record crowd of 6,075, Simpson’s Mariners defeated the Wyoming Cavalry 57-42 to take the American Indoor Football Association’s (AIFA) national championship. In doing so, the 16-0 Mariners completed an amazing run, which saw them set records on all sides of the ball and also become one of the elite few in American professional football to complete a season as undefeated champions.
The Mariners’ journey to a
perfect 2010 season started March 6 on the road
against their I-83 rivals, the Harrisburg Stampede. With the Mariners clinging
to a 55-48 lead with
left in the game former Stampede player and new Mariner Jermaine Thaxton picked
off a Kelvin Robinson pass at the
As the Mariners prepared for five of six games on the road Head Coach Chris Simpson, a 1981 Orofino graduated, noted, “We must win on the road to establish ourselves atop the East. We must control our own fate. What other teams do versus another team cannot be our concern. To be a championship caliber team, you have to prove it on the road.”
Like the three games at 1st Mariner, the Mariners started their road
trip with a win over the Revolution, 61-27. Next was a resounding win over the
defending AIFA champions, the Reading Express, 51-27 in
The Mariners returned to
With an 8-0 record in hand the Mariners hit the road again for a two-game trip in which the defeated the Guard for the third time in the 2010 season, 63-34, and then with a convincing 57-39 victory over the Richmond Raiders they ran their record to 10-0 and clinched the team’s second straight playoff berth.
In a key match-up against the Erie Storm, back at 1st Mariner Arena, the Mariners grabbed six interceptions and stopped the Storm 51-34. The win also secured the Eastern Conference regular season championship for the Mariners and an all-important first round bye.
Next the Mariners headed to
After the nail-biter against
After a tight first quarter,
in which the Mariners led 7-5,
On July 10 the 12-3 Stampede
On Sunday, July 25 with former Baltimore Colts great and Hall of Fame legend Lenny Moore acting as the Mariners’ honorary captain, including an introduction with the team, a record crowd of 6,075 in attendance at 1st Mariner Arena were quickly on their feet. Just into the national championship game they were stunned as the Cavalry quickly jumped to a 16-0 lead.
Like they had all season the
Mariners battled back and had whittled the lead to 24-17 by halftime and with a
dominating third period, in which they outscored the Cavs 22-6, the Mariners
held a 39-30 lead at the end of the third quarter. Refusing to give way to the
For the sixteenth straight
time the Mariners pulled away from their opponent with a two touchdowns and two
Coach Simpson commented, “When you have several individuals fight and sacrifice for one common goal, it is amazing what we were able to accomplish. To win the championship is one thing. To do it without a blemish on our record is entirely different. There are not many teams out there at any level of professional sports that have done that.”
With their victory the Mariners clinched the first championship in the team’s brief three-year history, became the first team in AIFA annals to finish a season as undefeated champions, and became only the ninth team in over 170 seasons of American professional arena, indoor and outdoor football history to complete a perfect championship season.
For more information about the Baltimore Mariners go to www.baltimoremariners.com.