The Chambersburg Cardinals have formed a player development partnership with the Harrisburg Stampede arena football team.
The connection allows both teams the opportunity to scout and offer contracts to each other's players. Marketing and promotional endeavors are also in the planning stages.
"I've always thought it would be good to match with an outdoor team to search for talent and give guys the opportunity to play at different levels," Stampede coach Bernie Nowotarski said. "So, when I started looking at different teams, it became a no-brainer to join with Chambersburg. They're established, well-run and well-coached. It just felt like the right match."
Mike Bibbs, James Rockymore and Jermaine Thaxton are among the first wave of Cardinals to take advantage of the connection. Thaxton played for the Stampede last season.
Harrisburg's season in the American Indoor Football League begins in late March.
Cardinals coach Chad Fauson will also be assisting the Stampede in a scouting/player development role. He hopes to identify arena players who he believes can transition to the outdoor game when Harrisburg's season ends in June.
"It gives us a head start on looking for prospects," Fauson said. "We get them in here and get them used to living here and taking advantage of the different perks we offer and, at the same time, we get to look at them."
Harrisburg's coaching staff also features Cardinals coaches Justin Coble and Jake Minnich.
Fauson is hoping some of the younger Cardinals will use the Harrisburg connection to stay in the area longer and work on their football skills almost year-round, rather than only during late spring and summer.
"From our end, it's more guided to the younger guys who are try to make a career of it," Fauson said. "We also might have a couple of core guys that, if they don't go to Harrisburg and play, they might be out of the area for the whole winter. This way, we can keep them around and keep them involved. It's better for everybody."
Fauson and Nowotarski hope that the alliance can also extend to off-the-field operations. Fauson said a few marketing plans are in the early stages, including ticket packages and possible bus trips to home games in both towns.
"If we can reach out to the Chambersburg fans, that's great," Nowotarski said. "If the Cardinals can reach out to our fans, that's great. It's about putting two great organizations together to give players a chance to play and to give fans a chance to watch more football."