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The Sioux Falls Storm 2012 Playoffs

Although the Sioux Falls Storm has gone undefeated this year, and has never lost a home game since joining the Indoor Football League in 2008, the IFL seemed determined to spoil the Storm's season by designing a two to three suspension for Storm Head Coach Kurtiss Riggs as the Storm entered a three game payoff series in their quest to defend their IFL Championship title in this year's United Bowl IV.

Part of the problem may be that as heartland midwesterners, we look out for each other. We care. We are good neighbors. We even share. But apparently city-slickers can easily mutate the act of being neighborly into "overcompensation".  It turns out that loaning out a vehicle or giving rides to IFL "pro football" stars whom don't even make enough to not have to hold a second job is compensation some how. I would like to remind the IFL that this is supposed to be pro ball, not college ball, not amatuer football. And yet Terrel Owen was literally handed the keys to the Allen Wranglers by the IFL?  Or not (T.O. is suing?)? It appears that the IFL is very good at waffling and sending mixed signals.

All this and more upsetting news that suspended back-up quarterback Lorenzo Brown was announced on Friday, only one day before the playoffs began the following Saturday night. You would think that all this crap might have an effect on the Sioux Falls Storm, and you would be right.

In week one of the playoffs the Sioux Falls Storm crushed the Lehigh Valley Steel Hawks for the right to defend their United Conference Championship, despite the absense of Head Coach Kurtiss Riggs, setting IFL records for the most points scored in a quarter (35) and a half (63), as well as the most points scored by one team in a playoff game (79). The Storm were making a statement.

On Saturday night, 6/30/2012, the Sioux Falls Storm defended their United Conference Championship against the Green Bay Blizzard. Once again, the Storm were competing without their head coach, Kutiss Riggs, for the second playoff game in a row due to the aforementioned, extremely controversial, league "overcompensation" violation.

Sioux Falls Storm Head Coach Kurtiss Riggs has peviously won Coach of the Year honors 3 times. And the Sioux Falls Storm faced the Green Bay Blizzard, who's Head Coach Robert Fuller had just won the 2012 IFL Coach of the Year award for the second year in a row (Coach Fuller was also awarded IFL Coach of the Year last year when he was with the Fairbanks Grizzlies).

Todd Tryon, Owner & CEO of the Sioux Falls Storm told the IFL that his team will have to have their best game of the year against such a well-coached team that was peaking at the right time.

When the Storm players took the field for Saturday night's game, they carried a cardboard cutout of Kurtiss Riggs with them, and the whole Arena was rocked with cheers. Defensive coach Josh Siegried took the reins as the acting head coach in Riggs' absence on the field.

The Storm scored on their first possession after a couple of incomplete passes, when IFL MVP of the year quarterback Chris Dixon hit Clinton Solomon on third down for a 36 yard touchdown. Then the Storm held the Blizzard to a field goal when on their first touch of the ball.  Even though the Blizzard were threatening with a first down inside the 5 yard marker, the Storm's defensive stand held and the Blizzard had to settle for a field goal.

Quickly, the Storm answered with another arial assault by Chris Dixon II and Clinton Solomon, scoring on first down with a 26 yard touchdown connection. The Storm jumped out to a 14-3 lead, but no one was taking that lead for granted, especially when the Blizzard would receive the ball next.  Green Bay were looking tough as a team and had been executing well. On their first down quarterback Porterie found Scott Burnoski in the open for a 28 yard touchdown to answer. 

On the ensuing kick-off the Blizzard managed a kick and cover that had the Storm pinned back at the five yard line, but on the Storm's first possession the Lightning Strike Offense went to work and Chris Dixon immediately answered with another first down pass completion, this time to Carl Sims, for another touchdown with a tremendous 45 yard play action pass. With the resulting score 21-10, Green Bay slowed the pace of the game on the next drive by utilizing their star running back La'Ron Council to pound the ball down the field with their run attack. Although aided by a few penalties, the Blizzard drive ended successfully when La'Ron Council punched it in from two yards out.

With the score 21-17 in the second quarter, it was certain that the Green Bay Blizzard was a serious contender for the conference title, but then Coach Fuller called on his special teams to pull-off a surprise on-side kick, and did. Green Bay recovered the ball, but the Storm D held them to a 40 yard Tervino field goal. Still, this is unusually close for a home game. The Blizzard were only a point behind the Storm, reved-up and threatening.  I couldn't wait to see the Storm answer.

To the astonishment of the crowd, the Blizzard D showed-up and stopped the Storm offense.  I believe Parker Douglass' holder was sidelined, the timing for the kick was off and the field goal was no good. And although the Storm D rose to the occasion with another stop, Adrian Trevino still made his field goal and the Blizzard went ahead with a two point lead, with the score at 21-23.

On the following drive, the Storm retook the lead when James Terry ran in for an 8 yard touchdown. The Blizzard had to manage the clock, but again Tervino scored with another long field goal from 44 yards out to bring the Blizzard within two before the end of the half. With the score 28-26 and realizing that the Blizzard would receive the ball first, I knew we were witnessing a great and competitive championship. I was so excited, and my son was getting a bit nervous. He was so used to blow-outs at the Storm Shelter that the closeness of this game put him on edge. I told him to have faith in his team.

Not that my son, Max, ever lost faith, but when the Blizzard returned to their ground game after the second half kick and took five minutes off the clock marching the ball well down the field and allowing La'Ron Council to punch it in for another running score from behind his blocker, this made him quite uneasy.  "Believe", I told my son with a smile.  With the score 28-33, the Storm needed to answer with more than a field goal, and Chris Dixon II delivered with a 14 yard touchdown run.  Man, this game was good, and the Blizzard were keeping our guys on their toes by staying close with a 35-33 score. I was impressed with how well the Blizzard were hanging with us. All they had to do was convert a field goal attempt to be right back in the lead again. And Trevino did not dissapoint his team, it was 35-36.

But let's face it, we were running out of time. Not just my son, but all of the Storm fans were honestly getting quite uneasy with what was becoming a see-saw horse race. With us trailing by a point late in the third quarter this was quite a different experience than we were used to here at the Arena. But Dixon answered by avoiding the rush and connecting with James Terry for another TD score. After the extra point the score was 42-36, advantage Storm.

On the ensuing kick-off the Blizzard's return man, B.J. Hill was caught by one of those deadly Douglass driving blow kicks that bounced out of bounds and pinned Green Bay deep in their own territory at their five yard line. Then, with only 2:30 to go on the third quarter clock came the play of the game, the Storm capitalized on the Blizzard rare mistake. Acting Storm coach Josh Sigfried told Xavier Jordan, who was sent in to play defense after Rachman Cable was injured, that GB quarterback Porterie had "been hitting the running backs in the flat all night". On second down, Porterie did just that and Jordan stole hiss reception and ran the interception back for a 'pick six'.

49-36, advantage Storm.

From there the Storm capitalized and the Blizzard's frustration started settling in early in the fourth quarter. The Storm had finally taken the wind out of the Blizzard. Dixon ran one in from 2 yards out and then connected with Solomon. The Blizzard finally got together to make the statement that they would be back to see us next year with a one yard leaping touchdown dive with less than 3 minutes to go. The final score was 61-42.

It really was an awesome game, the closest I have ever seen contested in the Storm Shelter.  And it secures our United Conference Championship title as well as secures our destiny to defend our IFL championship.

Then, on Saturday night at 7:35pm Central Time, July 14th, 2012, we went to war with the Tri-Cities Fever at the Storm Shelter again, defending our national IFL Championship title against another determined opponent with an even better record than the Blizzard had.

This was also a great game and I went with my son and best friend.  Rumors were that the IFL wouldn't even show up after trying yet again to screw the Sioux Falls Storm for crap, but it isn't likely that they didn't, they simply did not show themselves. But I am sure that someone was there, they had United Bowl IV and Championship Game MVP trophies to deliver.

Although most agree that the IFL's intention was specifically and blatantly to level the playing field out of some sort of ill will towards the Storm, and even though I was sure that this action could not possibly have a positive impact on the Storm, in the end it appeared to unite the team together. According to the Argus Leader, after the Blizzard game defensive tackle Cory Johnsen said "We took the adversity and just came together. We were more of a true team these last two weeks than we were all year. We had each other’s backs, trusted our coaches, and now we’re playing for another championship."

Although the IFL has penalized the Storm for what most consider illegitimate violations, it is reported that the IFL commisioner and organization hasn't been the agressor, that it is the IFL's clueless team owner management and oversight commitee system that has always acted so jealous and sinisterly which has been at fault.  Still, the IFL is having legitimacy problems of its own and fails to address this obvious abuse of power.  

That said, the Storm has had some legal problems with previous players over the past year that could jeapordize support for professional atheletics of any kind in Sioux Falls.  All that will hopefully correct itself as it shakes out in the off season.  

Tonight, however, the Storm returned to greatness in a 59-32 victory over the Tri-Cities Fever in United Bowl IV.

The Sioux Falls Storm has won their second United Bowl and Kutriss Riggs ties Heron O’ Neal with two United Bowl victories, while Chris Dixon II becomes the only starting quarterback in IFL history to have ever won a United Bowl (Chris won 2 with the Billings Outlaws and now 2 with the Sioux Falls Storm).

While the Fever were a tough bunch that led the Storm throughout most all of the first half, the Storm finally took the lead just before half-time on a Parker Douglass field goal. More details about the game will be made available soon, as I have just now arrived back home after celebrating the win with the players on the field (written at 11:57pm CT July 14th, 2012).

For more info on the IFL Champions, visit the Sioux Falls Storm website.

 

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