Date/Time: Sunday, July 25th, 5:00 PM MST
Place: Casper Events Center, Casper, Wyoming
Reading Express Profile:
2009 Record: 13-3 (11-3 Regular Season, 2-0 Playoffs)
Career Regular Season Record: 47-11
Career Playoff Record: 6-3
Division Championships: 4
League Championships: 0
Head Coach: Bernie Nowotarski
Wyoming Cavalry Profile:
2009 Record: 13-2 (12-2 Regular Season, 1-0 Playoffs)
Career Regular Season Record: 77-57
Career Playoff Record: 5-6
Division Championships: 3
League Championships: 0
Head Coach: Dan Maciejczak
Series: First Meeting
Reading Express Last Outing:
The Express earned their second AIFA Bowl berth in three seasons by defeating the Columbus Lions, in Georgia, 60-51.
Wyoming Cavalry Last Outing:
After a 43-31 victory over the Utah Valley Thunder last weekend in Casper, the Cavalry set the stage for a return trip to the AIFA.
Players to Watch:
Offense: #5 QB Rob Flowers (6’1”, 230, Kutztown), #18 WR Carmelo Ocasio (6’, 200, Indiana, PA), #19 WR Yardon Brantley (6’1”, 190, Duquesne), #21 WR Jeff Willis (6’2”, 187, Langston).
Defense: #6 DB/LB Trent Jones (6'1", 235), #22 DB/LB Matt Millard (6’, 215, Kutztown), #42 DB David Smith (6’2”, 214, N.C. State), #50 LB Matt Sola (6’2”, 270, Kutztown).
Special Teams: #25 K Eric Rockhold (5’9”, 190, Appalachian State).
Offense: #4 WR James Everage (6’3”, 215, Oklahoma State), #5 RB James Jones (5’5", 170, Northern Colorado), #8 WR A.J. Street (6’1”, 190, Mary), #11 WR B.J. Charlton (6'3", 220, Rocky Mountain), #12 WR Dante Dudley (6’1", 209), #16 QB Matt Strand (6’4", 260, Chadron State).
Defense: #2 DB Tanner Tetrault (6’2", 205, Black Hills State), #3 LB Zach Wheeler (6', 235, Chadron State), #21 DB Beau Wendling (6'2", 210, Chadron State), #46 LB Austin Bailey (6'2", 225, Chadron State), #96 DL Shaine Odell (6’4”, 255, Chadron State).
Special Teams: #5 RB James Jones (5’5", 170, Northern Colorado).
When the Express have the ball:
Coach Bernie Nowotarski’s Reading offense was one of the top units in the American Indoor Football Association (AIFA) this season ranking fourth in scoring offense, with 48.9 points per game, and third in total offense with 257.6 yards per game. The main reason for their high rankings was QB Rob Flowers. Flowers led all AIFA quarterbacks with 72 touchdown passes and 3,396 passing yards in the regular season. In the Express’ two playoff games he has added 11 more touchdown strikes and 447 yards. The key to Reading’s passing domination is its corps of talented wide receivers. WR Carmelo Ocasio led the AIFA in both receptions (108) and yards (1,289), but the Express contributions did not stop there. Jeff Willis contributed 85 receptions and 1,117 yards and Yardon Brantley tacked on 48 receptions and 596 yards. Willis has led the Express in the postseason with six TD catches. Flowers also led the Express in rushing with 12 touchdowns and 272 net yards. The Reading offensive line was third best in the league with only 14 sacks allowed, giving Flowers plenty of time to work. In Wyoming, the Express will be facing the league’s number one scoring defense. The Cavalry allowed only 28.4 points per game. This was accomplished with three of the AIFA’s top tacklers. DB Tanner Tetrault placed first in the league with 76 tackles (56 solo and 40 assisted), LB Austin Bailey finished third with 65.5 (45 solo/41 assisted), and LB Zach Wheeler ranked sixth with 60.5 tackles (37 solo/47 assisted). The Wyoming defense also ranked third in takeaways (43) and sacks (32)
When the Cavalry has the ball:
To go with their number one ranked scoring defense, the Cavs also tallied the top scoring offense in the AIFA with 59.9 points per game adding up to a 31.5 point average scoring margin. Like Reading, Wyoming is driven by one of the league’s top passers: QB Matt Strand. Strand finished a close second with 70 touchdown connections and came in third with 2,832 yards through the air. Head Coach Dan Maciejczak also compiled a talented set of receivers as three wide-outs notched more then 45 receptions and 700 yards each. Dante Dudley led the Cavalry with 84 receptions and 1,089 yards, while B.J. Charlton supplied 64 catches and 738 yards. A.J. Street pulled in 45 grabs and 700 yards. In the Cavalry win over the Thunder last week, fellow receiver James Everage led the pack with two touchdown receptions and has also been a valued contributor, giving Strand four targets to choose from. Unlike Flowers, QB Strand did not have to carry the rushing load as RB James Jones finished with an AIFA-best 23 rushing touchdowns and ranked second with 404 rushing yards. Although the Express ranked 11th in total defense, allowing opposing offenses to rack up 223 yards per game, Reading was selfish near the goal line as the team ranked third in scoring defense allowing only 34.0 points per game. Reading’s strength on defense was its rushing D, which placed second in the AIFA allowing only 23.1 yards per game, while its passing coverage allowed the league’s 13th most yards with 199.9 per game. As a team, Reading compiled the league’s fewest penalties being flagged for only 44.7 yards per game. DB/LB Trent Jones led the Reading defense with 52.5 tackles including 48 solo and nine assisted, DBs David Smith and Sam Bryant topped the Express with six interceptions each and LB Matt Sola was a force with 40.5 tackles (35 solo and 11 assisted), 6.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, and three interceptions.
AIFA Bowl III pits two of indoor football all-time greatest teams, but yet a league championship has eluded both squads. Reading has amassed an amazing 47-11 regular season record in four seasons. In four playoff years they have dominated the AIFA’s northern and eastern teams and now look for their first league championship while heading west for the first time. The Cavalry have been an incredible 30-6 the last three regular seasons, have earned playoff berths in seven of their ten seasons, and have played in three league championship games, but like Reading they have yet to bring home a league title. Something’s got to give in Casper this weekend when one of these high flying offensive teams will take home their first AIFA championship trophy.