It's no secret that I'm pretty proud that my husband plays on such an amazing football team, but I think this season preview, shared with me by the team, will show not only why you should be at the games this spring watching a team that promises to be a true play-off contender, but also why my whole family supports such a class-act organization. Thank you to not only the Midwest Rampage organization, but all the players who gave me quotes about the upcoming season!
BY MIDWEST RAMPAGE, INC. MEDIA DEPARTMENT
BY MIDWEST RAMPAGE, INC. MEDIA DEPARTMENT
The 2016 Midwest Rampage, like this year's slogan, enters a state of Metamorphosis with several major changes for their upcoming campaign. First, after 5 seasons, the organization has relocated its base of operations from Webster City to Carlisle—what some consider a bold move considering the team’s inception began in North Central Iowa in 2009. However, while last year's roster consisted of 39 players, only 5 were local to the area—which is not to say that the Rampage didn't lose a few longtime core veteran players with the move. However, for 2016 season, there are currently 31 players on the squad of which 19 played last year. So, it’s safe to say that both experience is abundant on this year’s team as well as growing support for the team in its new city.
The Rampage enters their third year of playing in the Southern Plains Football League (SPFL) and while the team has gone 15-5 and advanced to the SPFL semifinals the past two seasons, one major focus of their transmutation process is taking things to the next level by winning a championship. (Note: The organization’s sole title game appearance occurred in 2011 when they played the Des Moines Blaze for the Midwest Football League championship.) Furthermore, with the departure the 2014 and ‘15 SPFL champs the Southwest Huskerz, there is no league favorite and with the SPFL champion playing in the National Championship game in Salem (OR) on July 30th, the stakes are even bigger. It is significant to mention that since joining the SPFL in 2014, the Rampage own the distinction of being the only team in the league to beat every other SPFL team and includes a 32-22 victory over the Huskerz in ’14 and a 23-20 win over perennial powerhouse the South Central Hawgs last season. Nonetheless, the Rampage still have a lot to prove if they want to be considered the top team in the SPFL and that means playing bigger and better when it matters.
Offensively, while the team loses 2015 SPFL “Quarterback of the Year" Ben Jass to retirement along with the "Offensive Player" and "Wide Receiver of the Year” Gunnar Wyatt to another team, two new quarterbacks, Jake Hemann and Brandon Estabrook, bring both throwing and running skills to the table; just after one practice, the duo have proven that having two talented quarterbacks is better than one. Running back Ross Haren, who has rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 30 TDs the past two seasons is back along with Taylor Hackett who came on extremely strong towards the end of the ’15 season; both Hackett and Haren can play either tailback or in the slot. Finally, newcomer, Antwan Bell, Sr. can be a bruising ball carrier at 5’10” and 250 lbs or a force at tight end.
An experienced receiving corps consisting of Jeromy Keehn, Taylar Karas, and Brad Staten highlights the aerial attack along with newcomers Derrick Jackson and Jesse Anderson. The line—arguably the precious oil that makes the machine work—will be anchored by vets Josh Christensen, Axl Bronyzynski, and Mike McCrady, Jr. along with help from Todd Sauer and new recruits Jared Sunken, Steve Brown, and Lee Stubblefield. On special teams, the 2015 SPFL "Kicker of the Year" Chuck "Thunderfoot" Tack returns as well as his invaluable counterpart, long snapper Peter "Skip" Reed as priceless assets; Tack’s 63 yard field goal last season versus the North Iowa Bucks early in the season solidified his place among one of the best kickers in the nation.
Defensively, the "Black Plague Defense" returns most of a unit that has been top-ranked in the SPFL the past two seasons and among other things, only allowed two rushing touchdowns last seeason. On the line, Eric Walcheka will assume full-time duties at end after playing part-time the past two seasons where he racked up nearly 15 QB sacks and joining him on the other side will be newcomer Ely Emery, a former Division 1 recruit from Ottumwa who played at Iowa Western. When duo hybrids Shon Osborn and Ben Scott aren’t playing linebacker, they also can also play up on the line as rush ends and are valuable veterans who always make big plays. In the middle Sauer, McGrady, and Dillon Hart—who played in 2012 for the Rampage—will anchor the noseguard position vacated by an original Rampage vet and a 2015 finalist for “Best Defensive Lineman” Brian Miller.
An outstanding linebacker unit returns fully intact and features the 2015 SPFL "Defensive Player of the Year" John Elkin who led the league in tackles (83) and on the outside he will have outstanding counterparts and youth in Tyler Kibbee—a Finalist for the 2015 "Linebacker" and "DPOY"—as well as Scott, Osborn and newcomer Tanner Peterson. Bell, Sr. can also play linebacker and so can Emery. Finally, for the games he can play, phenomenon Joe Cason—who can virtually play anywhere from DE to LB to FS—will be the best athlete on either sideline when he's on the field.
In the backfield, Tyler Mosbach and Herb Bolden are the best around and between them, have collected 29 interceptions since 2011. Jeffrey West, another new player to the Rampage but one who comes with experience, will also greatly help along with Jackson and Hackett as fresh legs when needed especially with the departure of core staple and founding Rampage father Andy Sowle.
Coaching-wise, the Rampage have added much-needed staff in Co-Offensive Coordinators Kevin and Brian Bronyzynski; while Kevin's OL/DL expertise will greatly assist the game in the trenches, Brian's "Eye In The Sky" will help during games. Back for his fifth year as the Defensive Coordinator is Marty Hart whose passion for the game is evident as well as the fact that over the course of his career, especially with the Rampage, he has led some of the best defenses in the Midwest. Finally, Rampage head coach Matt Girdley who was the unanimous 2015 SPFL "Coach of the Year" is back, but Girdley will be the first to tell you that with more staff comes him relinquishing duties to those better qualified for the job.
The Rampage opens up the 2016 season at home at Carlisle High School on Saturday, April 30th at 4:00 pm. Season tickets and packages are currently on sale at discounted prices or fans can pay $5 on game day (children 9 and under are FREE). For more information, visit the Rampage’s official website: www.midwestrampage.com, ‘LIKE’ them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter @MidwestRampage.
2016 MIDWEST RAMPAGE SCHEDULE
vs. SE MN Warhawks – – Carlisle
@ North Iowa Bucks – – Rockwell
vs. Med City Freeze – – Carlisle
@ South Central Hawgs – – Truman, MN
@ Southwest MN Crusaders – – Edgerton, MN
vs. North Iowa Bucks – – Carlisle
@ Med City Freeze – – Rochester, MN
vs. SE MN Warhawks – – Carlisle
– 1st Round
– All-Star Game & Championship
– National Championship – Salem, Oregon