Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 012916 Contents THE RIVER - JANUARY 29, 2016
Florida Tarpons Prepare To Defend
Arena Football Title In Fifth Season
by Ed Frank
The Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers square off
next Sunday for sports’ biggest prize, the Super Bowl
Championship. But did you know that a local champion,
the Florida Tarpons of the American Indoor Football League,
known as the X-League, will begin defense of their own title in
this 25-team league in just a few weeks?
The Tarpons start their fifth season having proven that high-
scoring arena football is popular in our area where we have two
other highly successful minor league professional teams: hockey’s
Florida Everblades and baseball’s Fort Myers Miracle.
The Tarpons won the league championship in 2015 in
just their first year as a member of the X-League when the league merged with the
Ultimate Indoor Football League, where the Tarpons had been a member for the three
Florida begins its eight-game regular season on March 12 on the road in Lakeland
against the newly-named Central Florida Jags, formerly the Florida Marine Raiders.
It was the Marine Raiders that the Tarpons walloped 65-23 in the X-Bowl II
Championship last year.
The Tarpons home opener in Germain Arena is April 10 against the same Central
The team is owned and coached by Michael Taylor, who brought arena football
back here in 2012 after the demise of the old Florida Firecats which competed here
from 2001 to 2009 in the now-defunct af2 League.
Taylor has compiled a 29-9 record over the past four seasons, including league
championships in 2013 and 2015.
The team announced recently that two-time championship winning quarterback
Chris Wallace will return this season for his fourth year after playing eight seasons for
the Firecats. He has thrown for more than 22,000 yards in the 100-plus games he has
started. He owns league records for touchdown passes, completions and passing yards.
Wallace will have familiar targets to throw to this season with the return of veteran
wide receivers Carlos Singleton and Joshua Young.
The following is the Tarpons 2016 regular season schedule:
March 12 – Tarpons at Central Florida Jags
April 3 – Tarpons at Atlanta Vultures
April 10 – Central Florida Jags at Tarpons
April 17 – Georgia Firebirds at Tarpons
April 23 – Tarpons at Columbus Lions
April 30 – Tarpons at Central Florida Jags
May 13 – Central Florida Jags at Tarpons
May 22 – Savannah Steam at Tarpons
The kickoff for all home games is 5:30 p.m .
Another Sad Football Injury
We’ve written several columns on the mounting concer n over head injuries in foot-
ball, including the movie Concussion that disclosed in detail how the National Football
League denied the accusations for years.
Just last week, 36-year-old Antwaan Randle El, a star quarterback at Indiana
University who later played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, said he has memory lapses and
has difficulty walking down stairs.
“I ask my wife things over and over again,” he said in an interview with the Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette. “If I could go back, I wouldn’t play football. I would play baseball.”
Randle El was drafted in the 14th round (in 1997) by the Chicago Cubs. “Don’t get
me wrong, I love football. But right now, I could still be playing baseball,” he said in the
“I wouldn’t be surprised if football isn’t around in 20, 25 years,” he added.
Bob Janes Memorial Golf Outing
On Tuesday, April 12, the 3rd annual Bob Janes Memorial Golf Outing, host-
ed by the Lee Coast Chapter of the MilitaryOfficers Association of America
(MOAA), will be held at the Shell Point Golf Course in South Fort Myers.
There will be many gifts and prizes available as well as some spectacular awards
for holes-in-one . Mark your calendars now and organize your foursome. Last year’s
golf outing raised more than $27,500. The cost, same as last year, will be $125 per
Organizers anticipate a full field of 144 golfers. The deadline for all entries is April
4; golfers should include their handicap or average 18-hole scores and a telephone
number. Checks should be made payable to Lee Coast Chapter MOAA Foundation
and mailed to P.O . Box 682, Sanibel, FL 33957.
For an entry for m to participate in the 3rd annual Bob Janes Memorial Golf
Outing, contact John A. Bathke, entries coordinator, by calling 651-503 -8893 .
In addition, if you would like to help financially in sponsoring this event, several
opportunities remain available. Call Roger Triftshauser at 585-704-9486 for more
To Be Held In Lee
Governor Rick Scott, Lee County
Sports Development and the
Florida Sports Foundation will
kick off the annual Florida Spring
Training season at the 2016 Governor’s
Baseball Dinner. The dinner will be
held Friday, February 19 at the Hyatt
Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa
in Bonita Springs/Fort Myers.
While Fort Myers and Lee County’s
history of hosting spring training baseball
dates back to 1925, this is the first time
the Gover nor’s Baseball Dinner has been
held in the area.
“The annual Governor’s Baseball
Dinner marks the beginning of another
exciting Spring Training Baseball season
in Florida,” Scott said. “Florida is proud
to be the home of fifteen spring training
teams, and we look forward to welcoming
the families and visitors that this season
will bring to our great state.”
Top executives from around the
Florida Grapefruit League are expected
to attend including Boston Red Sox
President of Baseball Operations Dave
Dombrowski and Manager John Farrell
along with Minnesota Twins Executive
Vice President and General Manager
Terry Ryan and Manager Paul Molitor.
Individual tickets are available for
purchase for $100 or a table of can be
purchased for $1,000. Visit www.flori-
dagrapefruitleague.com to purchase tick-
ets online or call the Lee County Sports
Development office at 533-5273.
“Lee County is honored to host the
Governor’s Baseball Dinner, an annual
spring training baseball tradition,” said
Jeff Mielke, executive director of Lee
County Sports Development. “Lee
County’s commitment to the Boston Red
Sox and Minnesota Twins continues to
be a priority. With recent construction
and renovations to JetBlue Park and the
CenturyLink Sports Complex, as well
as the commitment from the teams,
this community is dedicated to hosting
spring training baseball for many years to
The State of Florida is a frontrunner
in Spring Training Baseball dating back
to 1888 when the Washington Senators
came south to Jacksonville.
While the current teams, and the hosts
for the 2016 event, the Minnesota Twins
and Boston Red Sox, have been in Lee
County for three decades, the area has
been hosting Spring Training Baseball
since 1925. The Philadelphia Athletics,
Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates
and Kansas City Royals have previously
called Fort Myers, and historic Terry Park,
Over 250,000 fans attended Florida
Grapefruit League games last year in Fort
Myers and attendance totals are expected
to reach that mark again in 2016. In the
last 10 years, over 2.5 million baseball
fans have gone through the tur nstiles at
Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink
continued on page 24
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