SCtoC's 2019 IFL Golden Helmet Awards Jul 4, 2019 8:53:34 GMT -8
Post by DiamondThief on Jul 4, 2019 8:53:34 GMT -8
The 11th season of the Indoor Football League has nearly come to a close. It's been an outstanding season of triumphs, shortfalls and near upsets. Three teams ended in a tie atop the final regular season standings with the tiebreaker ultimately coming down to strength of schedule, which elevated the Iowa Barnstormers to the top seed in the IFL playoffs.
The Arizona Rattlers will look for their second IFL championship in three years as they host the Sioux Falls Storm in the United Bowl. The teams met in the 2017 United Bowl with Arizona coming out on top by a tally of 50-41 at Sioux Falls. The Storm defeated the Rattlers 69-68 in an overtime thriller in last year's Intense Conference Championship Game. This season the Rattlers went 14-0 in the regular season and topped the Nebraska Danger in the conference championship, 62-45 to earn their bid for the United Bowl. The Storm finished the regular season at 11-3. They defeated the Tucson Sugar Skulls, 50-47 in the First Round of the playoffs and rallied to defeat the defending champion Iowa Barnstormers in the United Conference Championship Game, 52-50. The Storm are appearing in their 10th straight United Bowl, and won six straight from 2011 through 2016. Arizona swept both games of the season series over the Storm this season. The United Bowl will be played on July 13 at 6 p.m. pacific standard time (8 p.m. central) at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Individual performances were abound all season long and in several games in particular. As we put together our 2019 Golden Helmet Awards, the six senior members of the Sports Coast to Coast (SCtoC) staff voted in eight categories to determine the top performers of the season. In the event of a tie (we had one), the tiebreaker came down to the votes of the three lead SCtoC staff who cover the IFL to determine a single honoree. Several had noteworthy seasons and moments and should be honored for those. We have attempted to encapsulate both the individual performances and how they came to be honored here on our pages.
That said, the following are the Sports Coast to Coast 2018 Golden Helmet Awards.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Daquan Neal, QB, Iowa Barnstormers
(Photo by Connor Ferguson)
After the departure of last season's Golden Helmet winner, quarterback Drew Powell of the Barnstormers, the team sought out his replacement. What they got was Neal, a 6'2" 215-pounder out of Elizabeth City State College (North Carolina). He finished second in the IFL with 188.7 passing yards per game and was first with 59 touchdown tosses. In all, he completed 71 percent of his passes for 2,642 yards while throwing only three interceptions. Neal also rushed 130 times for 649 yards and an IFL second-best 24 touchdowns. He led the Barnstormers to a 12-2 record and First Round bye in the playoffs. Iowa might well be playing in the United Bowl had he not suffered an injury early in the fourth quarter in its 52-50 United Conference Championship Game loss to the Sioux Falls Storm. Neal was named IFL Offensive Player of the Week for weeks 6, 12 and 14.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Davontae Merriweather, DB, Arizona Rattlers
(SCtoC photo by Gary Royall)
Merriweather was the backbone of a Rattlers defense which allowed a league-low 36.4 points per game and a second-best 219.4 total yards per game. At 6'1" and 200 pounds, Merriweather led the IFL with 103 tackles per game; including 71 solo tackles. He also intercepted four passes, had 12 pass break ups, three tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and a sack. Merriweather and the Rattlers defense helped pave the way for Arizona to finish the regular season a perfect 14-0, earning a bye in the First Round of the playoffs and an advancement to its second United Bowl since moving over from the Arena Football League prior to the 2017 season. Merriweather attended Central Connecticut State University. He was named IFL Defensive Player of the Week for week 5; one of five different Rattlers defenders to earn that honor in 2019.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Marques Rodgers, WR/KR, San Diego Strike Force
(SCtoC photo by Gary Royall)
While his team struggled during its inaugural season, Rodgers was a bright spot both in the kick return game and on offense, and should probably be considered the Strike Force's break out player of the season. The 5'10" 180-pound receiver out of New Mexico State University led the IFL in kick return yards with 1,322 off 69 returns; both league highs. His 19.2 yards per return was third in the league and he returned one kickoff for a touchdown. His 55.9 receiving yards per game were fifth in the league. He caught nine touchdown passes and rushed for another six. Rodgers led the league in all-purpose yards with 2,229. He was on the honorable mention list for Special Teams Player of the Week seven times (half of his team's games) and made the same list for Offensive Player of the Week once.
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Tommy Armstrong, Jr., QB, Nebraska Danger
(Photo by Jimmy Rash/Grand Island Independent)
It made sense that former University of Nebraska Cornhusker quarterback Armstrong would continue his career in the state after setting nearly all the passing records in four years in Lincoln. The 6'1" 220-pounder didn't disappoint for the Danger this season. His 128.5 passing yards per game were fifth in the league and he was fourth with 37 touchdown tosses. He completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 1,799 yards with just nine interceptions. Armstrong was a force on the ground as well; leading the league with 26 rushing touchdowns while rushing for a second-best 51.4 rushing yards per game. Armstrong's efforts helped lead the Danger to a 7-7 record and a playoff berth. The Danger beat the Blizzard in the First Round before being defeated by the Rattlers in the Intense Conference Championship Game. He was named IFL Offensive Player of the Week for week 1.
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Treyvon Williams, LB, Iowa Barnstormers
(Photo via goifl.com)
Williams was a stalwart for one of the top defenses in the IFL this season. He helped anchor a group which was third in points allowed at 37.3 and yards allowed at 224.9. The group aided the defending champion Barnstormers in earning its third straight playoff berth and a bye in the First Round. Williams, 5'10" and 220-pounds from Florida International University, was third in the league with 90 tackles and tied for seventh with 11.5 tackles for loss. He also posted 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a pass break up and a blocked kick. Those numbers are even more impressive given that he appeared in just 11 of the Barnstormers' 14 games this season. Williams was named IFL Defensive Player of the Week for week 10, and was on the Honorable Mention list five times in the same category.
INDIVIDUAL GAME PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
Lorenzo Brown Jr., QB, Sioux Falls Storm
(Photo via goifl.com)
The Storm welcomed the Quad City Steamwheelers to the Denny Sanford Premier Center on March 22 (week 5), but were not very pleasant to their guests. The 6'0" 205-pound veteran quarterback out of the University of Sioux Falls lead the charge, completing 12 of 15 passes for 160 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed 17 times for 83 yards and another six scores. The Storm led 32-27 at halftime. They took control late in the second quarter and throughout the third, outscoring the Steamwheelers 20-6 during a span of 11 minutes. In the fourth, Sioux Falls traded scores with Quad City and finally put them away on Brown's two-yard touchdown run with six seconds remaining on the clock. The Storm's 66-52 win in their 2019 home opener improved their record to a perfect 4-0 on the season. Brown earned IFL Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.
GAME OF THE YEAR
June 8: Arizona Rattlers 50, Tucson Sugar Skulls 49 - OT
(SCtoC photo by Gary Royall)
This category is, perhaps, the most difficult one to judge. When all the votes were in, there were two contenders; this game, and the Danger's 46-40 win over the Barnstormers the following week which sent Nebraska into the playoffs. On June 8, the Rattlers had already clinched a playoff berth and the Sugar Skulls were battling for a playoff spot. Tucson took a 35-14 lead in the second quarter before Jarrod Harrington's 50-yard kickoff return narrowed the score to 35-21 at halftime. The Rattlers would score the only points of the third quarter; a pair of touchdowns. The teams traded a touchdown each in the fourth quarter, sending the game into overtime. The Sugar Skulls scored first on a four-yard run from Mike Jones. Josh Gable's extra point put Tucson up 49-42. Arizona came back on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Drew Powell to Dez Stewart. Arizona elected go go for two for the win. Powell rushed around the right side and dove into the end zone, fumbling, but recovering the loose ball. The Rattlers' win improved their record to 13-0 with the 50-49 overtime win. The Sugar Skulls would go on to clip the Steamwheelers the following week to earn their own playoff spot.
HEAD COACH OF THE YEAR
Corey Roberson, HC, Green Bay Blizzard
(Photo via Green Bay Blizzard on Facebook)
In 2018, the Blizzard were not very good. They finished with a league-worst 2-12 record. Roberson was named interim head coach after five straight losses to start the season. Shortly after season's end, the team elevated him to full head coach. He built a stout defense which led the league in yards allowed (207.4) and were second in points allowed (37.2). Rookie quarterback Lenorris Footman, a finalist for SCtoC's 2019 Golden Helmet Award Offensive Rookie of the Year, engineered four last-minute wins, and the team posted one of two shutouts in the IFL this season. Roberson was instrumental in Green Bay's success, turning that two-win team around to finish 9-5 and earn the team's first winning season and playoff spot since 2012. The turnaround has IFL onlookers anxious to see what the Blizzard will achieve in 2020. Of note, this was the lone unanimous selection in any of SCtoC's eight Golden Helmet Award categories.
We at SCtoC would like to extend our congratulations to all of our 2019 Golden Helmet Award honorees, as well as all of those considered. We also would like to thank all the players, coaches, and individual team and league staffs for what turned out to be an exceptional and exciting IFL season. Our IFL Regular Season Schedule has all the scores from around the IFL this season, as well as links to the boxscore of each game and links to our original recaps of each game. Click for our 2018 IFL Golden Helmet Awards.
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