Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Current State of the Richmond Raiders

It is officially the offseason for the Richmond Raiders, and while the team missed the playoffs again, the Raiders did finish first in their division and were .500 on the season.  While matching their win total from the 2010 season in 2011, they played two fewer games when compared to the inaugural season which does show some improvement.

New front office staff Steve and Gary Criswell and new head coach James Fuller worked diligently to bring a great product to the Coliseum and overall better football was played.  The glaring problem this season was five different starting quarterbacks.  Officially the team stated changes at quarterback were injury related, but to the fans it appeared that Mike Potts and Aaron Alexander struggled when the pressure was on.  Both Potts and Alexander had difficulties with interceptions, with all Raider quarterbacks throwing 23 total INTs on the season.  Only the Fayetteville Force and Harrisburg Stampede had more INTs.  Antwon Young ended the season at quarterback after being released from the IFL Tri-City Fever, and showed he may have a future in Richmond.  New kicker Joshua Smith brought stability to special teams and the combination of Noland Burchette, Law Lewis, and Michael Woodhouse made for one of the top d-lines in the entire SIFL, with Woodhouse being number one leauge wide in total sacks. Lastly, DB Rece Thorne, who played minimally in the first half of the season, played well for the Raiders late replacing injured DB Stephen Cason and DB JR Rosegreen.

The SIFL itself is a complete train wreck.  League President Thom Hager sold off his stake in the Louisiana Swashbucklers last month and it appears the league will be toast as soon as championship game is over.  John Morris has made a commitment to the city of Baltimore to bring back a team to the Charm City under the AIFA, of which Morris will serve as its commish.  Current Texas based team owner Chad Dittman has openly expressed disgust with Hager and is rumored to be starting a new Texas only league. This all bodes poorly for the survival of the SIFL.

So where does that leave our Richmond Raiders? My money is on the IFL.  Team ownership is very familiar with John Morris and I think it's very unlikely they would be chomping at the bit to get back in business with the man.  But the IFL already has a team in the area, the 3-11 Richmond Revolution.  Whether the IFL would field two teams in the same city remains to be seen, but there have been rumors that the outdoor Revolution will fold before the year is over.  While this can not be confirmed, two things can be confirmed. There is no actual indoor football arena construction going on at the SportsQuest campus and there are no links for 2012 season tickets sales on the Revolution website.  This is either a sign of the teams inevitable failure or just laziness on the part of ownership. (The Revolution received special permission from the IFL commish to play outdoors in 2011.)  Lastly, I believe the IFL will be the home of the Raiders in 2011 because I spoke directly with IFL commish Tommy Benizio last month.  While it was a short conversation, he demonstrated an enormous interest in the Richmond Raiders and their ownership.  Benizio would love to have stable team in his home town.

Personally, I would love to see the Revolution and Raiders play each other 2012 as part of the IFL. Having a 'Richmond Bowl' would garner a ton of media coverage and could be a great thing for the sport.  Plus the bragging rights would be epic and travel costs minimal.

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  1. Great piece, Ruben! I couldn't agree more. It would be really cool to have a Revs-Raiders matchup in 2012, but I wouldn't bank on it.

    --Bobby Mason

  2. The only guarantee this offseason is there will be lots of change. I am glad you are getting a team in 2012, just sorry it will be Morris and Bondo's league.