While enjoying the fruits of their bye week the Mariners coaches and players are also busy preparing for their next opponent. Mariners Head Coach Chris Simpson said, “We will prepare like we always have going into to each game. During the bye week we will fine tune our fundamentals on both sides of the ball and it will allow us to do some extra conditioning. We have always focused on getting better as a team each week. This is a tremendous opportunity for the team and our confidence comes in our preparation.”
That preparation led to a record breaking season topped off by the first undefeated regular season in American Indoor Football Association (AIFA) history as the Mariners finished with a 14-0 record. It was also a season that saw the Mariners register the first shutout in AIFA history in a 59-0 win over the Fayetteville Guard, set a new team standard for points scored with a 91-19 victory over the Guard, and set a new franchise mark for margin of victory with an 84-6 triumph over the New Jersey Revolution.
They also have now won 15 regular season games in a row, are 19-1 in the regular season dating back to May 23, 2009, and are 23-5 since the start of the 2009 season.
A number of Mariners also established new individual records. Running back Isaiah Grier set a new Mariners’ rushing record with 565 rushing yards and also set Baltimore and AIFA records for rushing touchdowns (30) and total touchdowns (37) in a season.
Mariners’ quarterback E.J. Nemeth set new team marks for passing yards (2,333) and passing touchdowns (52) in a season while Mariners’ receiver Scorpio Brown also established a new team standard for receiving touchdowns with 22 this season.
In addition to Brown, Grier and Nemeth, the offense was a model of consistency as the receiving corps of Brown, Jamaal Stokes, and Aaron Yarbough played their third season together and rookie Damon Harrison was a valuable fourth receiver with six touchdowns. The veteran offensive line of Gus Kosmakos, Mark Stout, and Jeff Tyler also powered the league’s second ranked rushing offense and allowed only eight sacks all season; a league best.
On the defensive side of the ball Mariners’ newcomer, and former North Carolina Tar Heel, defensive end Melik Brown, set team record for sacks (12.5) and tackles for a loss (16) in a season.
The defensive line of former Minnesota Viking Fearon Wright, rookie and former Appalachian State standout Daniel Orleber, and Brown along with former college All-American linebackers Brian Bradford and Adam Goloboski helped lead the Mariners to a league leading 45 sacks and currently the #2 ranked scoring defense, allowing just 28.4 points per game. Veteran Adam Foley also saw substantial time on the line. The defensive starting backfield of Richard Johnson, Jermaine Thaxton, and Armar Watson along with David Smith and Desmond Maul also propelled Baltimore to a league-leading 44 interceptions and a +43 turnover margin.
Kicker J.R. Cipra sparked the special teams by leading the AIFA kickers in PATs (100), field goals (17), unos (21), and points.
Still, along with all the preparation, the team has the extra bonus of resting nagging injuries, getting some much needed rest after a long season, and getting re-focused on the ultimate prize. Coach Simpson commented, “We came out of the Reading game in pretty good shape. Having a bye will allow us to be fresh for the Conference Championship game. This is what we have worked hard for all season. This team never quits even when it has been a struggle. We simply need to finish what we've started.”
- John Wolfe
For more information about the Baltimore Mariners go to www.baltimoremariners.com.