Peoria Rough Riders
Goodwin's Team Spending Bye Week Reviewing

March 30, 2006

PEORIA – Sometimes, letting time put distance between an event and the analysis of an event helps.

After last Saturday’s 44-40 loss to the Bloomington Extreme, Chuck Goodwin, Peoria Rough Riders head coach, let that distance work for him as he saw game film this week.

After seeing the film, Goodwin said, “I think there’s a lot of good things we did (on the field Saturday).

“We wanted to go down field (and) throw the ball, and we did that,” Goodwin said. “We saw some good things out of (wide receivers) Ashlee Frazier (and) Keith Herron.

Peoria ran the ball on the ground just eight times all night against Bloomington. The rest of the evening, the Rough Riders employed their passing game behind veteran quarterback Kenton Carr

“Defensively, we put some good pressure on (Bloomington),” Goodwin said. “That’s (the) indoor (football) game. 44-40? That’s the kind of game you want. You want an exciting ball game that goes back and forth.”

But Goodwin’s analysis of Saturday even looked at how what was taking place on the field translated to action in the stands.

“I sat down and reflected about it Saturday night and you noticed that no one left their seats,” Goodwin said. “(The game) was going right down to the wire.

“It was an exciting game and that’s what we’re shooting for,” Goodwin said. “The kids didn’t let up at all.”

Calling what his players’ season a learning experience, Goodwin said he saw positives on Saturday, even if Peoria is still looking for a first win.

Peoria’s April 8 opponent, Lexington, also had this week off, so both teams are getting extra preparation time. Goodwin sees the extra time for teaching the players about not only what they did well, but also what they can do to improve before the Lexington game.

Pressing Matters: Team owner Pat Ward said when now former general manager Eric Hutchins having left the team on March 15, “there were way too many game-day operations (items) that had to be resolved, and settled, and then end training camp.”

Among the matters immediately requiring attention, said Ward, were getting enough food to feed the players during training camp, as well as making sure agreements had been signed between the team and medical staff.

During training camp, Ward said, he discovered those issues had not been completely addressed before Hutchins exited.

Ward said he found that there were contacts that weren’t signed or done incorrectly. “I give this crew in this office high kudos for what they did for (this team) last week,” Ward said. “I could not be here, but I could leave them instructions. They got so much done in one week,” he explained.

“As far as the opening game was concerned, it was important that it came off without a hitch, (and) it was important that we were covered in case of injury,” Ward said.

“The detail work was not done,” Ward said of what he found had been neglected. “Everything was fine in (our) ticket area,” Ward said, but he found team business matters, which Hutchins would have been responsible for, were not ready at that time.

UIF Honors Burk: In his first game for the Bloomington Extreme last week, and at the Rough Riders’ expense, Extreme quarterback Dusty Burk earned Offensive Player of the Week honors. Burk connected on 15 of 22 passes for 185 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Squib Kicks: Last Saturday’s game at Carver Arena was the first time the Bloomington Extreme had spent any time on a genuine UIF 50-yard field, Extreme head coach Ted Schmitz admitted after his team’s victory last week. Prior to that, they practiced at two facilities, indoor and outdoor, including Hancock Stadium, at Illinois State, and at a local indoor soccer facility.

Bloomington Extreme 44, Peoria Rough Riders 40
Expansion Extreme Wins First Game To Open UIF Season 2

March 26, 2006

PEORIA – The Chuck Goodwin coaching era of the Peoria Rough Riders looked to be strong at first, but ended on a sour note, with United Indoor Football’s newest expansion team, the Bloomington Extreme, beating Peoria, 44-40 Saturday night.

Conversely, Ted Schmitz’s coaching era with the expansion Bloomington franchise could be defined as wobbly at best for the first three quarters. But by the final buzzer, Bloomington, led by quarterback Dusty Burk, settled down to open UIF season number two with positive results.

A Carver Arena crowd of 1,500 saw running back Brandon Robinson score Peoria’s first touchdown for the new head coach, on a 1-yard run at 10:44 in the first quarter, and going up 7-0 on kicker Joe Metzka’s extra point.

Burk’s 7-yard pass to receiver Dwayne Smith with one second left in the first quarter could be the answer to football trivia years from now, but the play made history as the first points ever scored by the Extreme. Kicker Peter Christofilakos entered the record books with Bloomington’s first successful extra point, tying the game at 7-all.

Rough Riders quarterback Kenton Carr threw his first touchdown of the night to receiver J. R. Taylor for an 11 yard scoring strike at the 10:06 mark in the second quarter, but Metzka missed the extra point, narrowing Peoria’s lead, 13-7.

Christofilakos booted the Extreme’s first field goal from 22 yards out with 7:11 left until halftime.

Rough Riders defenders hassled Burk often, even to the point of getting a safety at 2:43 before halftime, improving Peoria’s lead to 15-10.

With 14 seconds until intermission, Carr connected again with Robinson, this time from 21 yards out for a touchdown. Metzka’s extra point put Peoria up, 22-10 at half.

Carr hit receiver Ashlee Frazier for a 45-yard touchdown strike to open the third quarter at the 13:06 mark. Metzka’s extra point increased Peoria’s lead to 29-10 after another successful Metzka kick.

Peoria managed to score its first rouge – one point rewarded to a team that manages to keep a receiving team from advancing a kickoff out of the end zone – at 12:38 in the third, jolting Peoria’s lead to 30-10.

Running back James Fuller turned wide receiver when Burk hit him from 10 yards out at 12:36 in the third, with Christofilakos’ extra point cutting Peoria’s lead to 30-17.

Metzka kicked a 20 yard field goal at 7:46 in the third to boost Peoria’s lead to 33-17, but Bloomington with poise regained, scored again, at 4:56 in the third on Fuller’s one-yard run, topping a 4 play, 39 yard drive. A two-point pass play was successful, cutting Peoria’s lead 33-25.

Peoria’s next possession was three plays long, ending in an interception, handing Bloomington back the ball with 2:40 left in the third.

Extreme receiver Glenn Johnson starred in back-to-back unanswered scoring drives as, first, he scored from one yard out with 56 seconds left in the third quarter, capping a 3-play drive. D’Alie could not run past Extreme defenders for the two point conversion, but Peoria’s lead had been cut to two, 33-31.

Johnson then received credit for scoring Bloomington’s go-ahead touchdown, on a 17-yard pass from Burk with 9:34 left in the game. Bloomington increased their lead to 37-33.

Carr was 13-for-29 for 162 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Frazier led a four-man receiving corps in yardage with 3 catches for 56 yards and one touchdown.

In his first effort as Extreme quarterback, Burk was 15-for-22 for 185 yards, with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Dwayne Smith led receivers in yardage with 65 yards on four catches, while Fuller led all rushers with seven carries totaling 25 yards.

Early on in the contest, Schmitz admitted, his team “was not relaxed” as the game began. “We started out slow, but I thought we got it going,” the one-time former Peoria Pirates assistant said.

As Schmitz explains it: “Even before half, I knew we had a chance because, it was just I had thought…They were a big, strong physical team,(and) we’re not small, but I knew we could physically wear them down in the fourth quarter and possibly win the game.”

As for the Rough Riders, “We told (our players) you’ve got to play four quarters,” Goodwin said.

“Bloomington, to their credit, came out and made some good plays, (they) did what they had to do and we gave up a few good plays. We did some good things and we did some bad things. We just take this (as) a learning experience and come back.”

The Rough Riders get their league imposed bye week over with early, as they will be idle next week, returning to Carver Arena April 8 to face the Lexington Horsemen, beginning at 7:05p.m.


United Indoor Football '06 Opens
Peoria Rough Riders Open Season Against Bloomington Extreme Saturday

March 22, 2006

PEORIA – As the sophomore season for United Indoor Football gets ready to open this weekend, it also ushers in two new eras for two cities accustomed to jostling over Missouri Valley Basketball, not indoor football.

Saturday’s 7p.m. game between the Peoria Rough Riders and the expansion Bloomington Extreme will mark the UIF head coaching debuts for Peoria’s Chuck Goodwin and Bloomington’s Ted Schmitz, both of whom were assistants to former Peoria head coach Bruce Cowdrey over the last couple of years.

The Extreme is the only expansion team UIF let in during the off-season, evening up the number of UIF teams to 10. During the off-season, two teams, in the Tupelo (Miss.) FireAnts and Rapid City (S. D.) RedDogs, could not find financing, including seeking buyers for each when team owners put their respective clubs up for sale on EBay, and withdrew from the league.

Goodwin said who starts under center against Bloomington will be a game day decision. He has both youth and veteran talent ready for the challenge. Youth comes in the form of Matt Schabert, who transferred from the University of Wisconsin to Eastern Illinois Univ., where he racked up honors in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Experience comes from Peoria’s second quarterback is Kenton Carr, who has played both for the Peoria Pirates two seasons ago as well as played locally in semi-pro ball for both Pekin-based Mid-State Steel and Bloomington-based Twin City Storm.

Regardless of who passes the ball, the quarterback will have the knowledge that Goodwin has sought out a wealth of talent capable of making plays. That group includes Keith Herron, an Indiana State product who played semi-pro ball with Schabert as a member of the Kane County Eagles of the North American Football League.

Defensively, Goodwin’s secondary will include players like Donald K. Woodward, an Olivet Nazarene product, who also played for the Kane County Eagles.

“I’m impressed with the effort (being made),” Goodwin said. “Our kids are working real hard and working together as a team. They are disciplined.”

About The Extreme: Schmitz’s coaching career spans from East Peoria High School to the Canadian Football League where he won a Grey Cup championship.

On the field, Bloomington will show some talent familiar to local fans, including quarterback Dusty Burk, who played at Illinois State before transferring to Truman State before his senior year. Burk played in the National Indoor Football League out of college.

Bloomington signed Matt Holem, who played in last season in another league starting its sophomore season this year, the American Indoor Football League. Holem also has also played for the Quad City Steamwheelers of arenafootball2.

Former Illinois Wesleyan quarterback Tom Kudyba is also on the roster, but Schmitz said Kudyba could be playing other positions.

Among those on defense, the Extreme signed Chris Hummel, who played semi-pro ball last season with the Bloomington-based Twin City Storm.

Among Schmitz’s assistants is Frank West, who is defensive backs coach. West played for af2’s Peoria Pirates, even cutting his coaching teeth under Cowdrey as a volunteer assistant two years ago.

Coaches’ Comments: Both Goodwin and Schmitz gave nods to one another’s efforts as the season starts. Aside from Schmitz coaching an expansion team, Goodwin heads one of five UIF teams with new head coaches this season.

Goodwin said that he expects Bloomington will be well-disciplined and knows they will be well coached.

“(Ted) is a great guy, and I have the greatest respect for him,” Goodwin said. Goodwin also gave West a nod saying, “he’s a great kid. He’ll do well.”

“I think it’s a natural dog-eat-dog (rivalry),” Schmitz said. “Chuck and I are competitive guys, but we’ll shake hands before and after, regardless of what happens. I think it’s going to be a great (and) very, very healthy rivalry where the players play extremely hard and the fans are going to be treated to a great football game.”

Division Realignment: Tennessee Valley Raptors Managing Partner Art Clarkson moved the Raptors to Rockford last fall, where they will play in the arena of the city’s MetroCentre, downtown. They have changed their name to the Rock River Raptors. A team in an under-16 soccer league lays claim as the Rockford Raptors.

Peoria, Rock River, and Bloomington will make up the UIF Central Division.

Four teams make up the league’s Eastern Division: Ohio Valley, Lexington, Evansville, and Fort Wayne.

The realignment of teams also means just three teams call the newly-christened Western Division home: Omaha, Sioux City, and league champ Sioux Falls.

IL Special Olympics State Basketball Tournament
Lessons In Winning, Losing, Laughter, And Life Fill Weekend

March 19, 2006

BLOOMINGTON – Local high school and college basketball fans are not the only ones who have been stricken with “March Madness” this weekend.

Although Peoria is hosting Illinois High School Class AA finals and the University of Illinois and Bradley are on brackets for the NCAA tournament, Special Olympics athletes statewide have descended on Bloomington-Normal for the Illinois Special Olympics State Basketball tournament, held this weekend at Illinois Wesleyan’s Shirk Center and Illinois State’s Horton Field House.

A total of 1,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities, divided into 109 teams will compete this weekend.

The girls’ team from Pekin-based Illinois River Valley Special Recreation Association ended their participation in the tourney with a third place finish in their division Saturday.

IRVSRA’s men’s team, designated IRVSRA Black, however, were stung hard on Saturday in their division and found themselves facing a bleak conclusion to their weekend.

IRVSRA Black, coached by Larry Needham, lost their Saturday opener to Orland Park Special Olympics, 72-49, setting them up for a third place showdown against the Rams of Lincoln Park District at IWU’s Shirk Center Sunday morning.

During that second game, the Lincoln Rams outscored IRVSRA Black by a blistering 20-0 count in the third quarter, handing Needham’s team a 48-34 loss, claiming bronze medals while Needham’s team received fourth place ribbons.

“We’ve played Lincoln twice before during the season,” Needham said. “They beat us by seven both times. This game, (Lincoln) just starts walking away from us.”

Happy Saturday: The Lady Flames lost to Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation Association in their opening game, 32-27 Saturday morning, but regrouped to take third place in their division by defeating the Rockettes of Rockford Special Olympics, 59-54, as family and friends cheered them on.

During their first game, the Lady Flames had to contend with an aggressive C-USRA defense while overcoming their own cold offense, demonstrated by the Lady Flames only scoring four points inside the last minute of the fourth quarter.

Although the game was tied at 14-all at halftime, C-USRA led 24-23 going into the fourth quarter.

While that was not the outcome head coach Gail Smith could smile upon, she said she found herself literally chuckling toward the end of her team’s third place game against Rockford, mostly because her girls looked to be having so much fun on the hardwood.

“They were having a lot of fun on the court during the last game,” Smith said. “We practice to have fun and to have fun ourselves at the same time.”

“It’s not just about the competition and it’s not just about the skills for us,” explained Rachel Doan, director of special populations for Pekin IRVSRA. “It’s about (showing athletes to) help each other and having fun and doing what it takes for them to do the best they can.”

An Excited Player: Jennifer Morrison, daughter of Robert and Linda Morrison, Washington, plays for IRVSRA’s girls’ team, and has done so for four years.

As a family, this weekend has been fun because it has added to the excitement of Bradley and the University of Illinois being in the NCAAs, as well as watching younger brother Corey play basketball for St. Patrick’s School.

“It’s good exercise for her,” Linda Morrison said. “She’s excited about the games. I think it’s great.

“She actually really enjoys the game so much, and she’s so excited about it,” Linda Morrison said. “That’s a mental boost right there. It makes her feel good (because she) is doing well in the game, that she is playing in the game, and she’s part of the group. She loves it.”

When she is not playing or practicing, Jennifer has a number of different jobs at Tazewell County Resource Center, doing everything from working in the mailroom to working in the snack shop there.

“(We) had no concerns about her getting involved in basketball,” Mrs. Morrison said.

Linda Morrison offered some advice to those parents who might be hesitant to get their child involved in Special Olympics for one reason or another.

She said people like her daughter not yet involved in Special Olympics “are missing out.”

“(Being involved in Special Olympics) is a great opportunity for (their) child,” Morrison advises. “Not involving their child in some sort of sport or activity (would cause the child) to be missing out.”

As Morrison sees it: “This is a great group activity, plus it’s good for (the athletes) to know that they are part of a group and for them to know that they can actually contribute. Plus they get to have that extra exercise.”

Honoring Knisley: This year’s tourney has been bittersweet for ISO’s Normal-based State office staff.

The State Basketball Tournament was normally the event that the organization’s director of Sports and Competition, Ron Knisley, played a very large role in assembling.

Knisley, 52, Morton, who had been employed by SOI’s state office in Normal since 1991, died of Cancer at his home Oct. 13. 

To honor Knisley, game officials from each of the tournament contests are selecting one player from each team in each game to award them with a “Spirit of the Game” ribbon.

At the end of the tourney, two ribbon recipients will be selected to receive the Ron Knisley All Tournament Spirit Award. The names of those two winners will go onto a plaque which will be displayed in ISO’s State Office. The winners of the All Tournament Spirit Award will also be recognized at the opening ceremonies for the next year’s basketball tournament.

“Ron loved basketball, whether it was this tournament or the Bloomington-Normal Holiday Tournament held here in town,” said Doug Snyder, President and CEO of Illinois Special Olympics.

ISO has been honoring Knisley at every tournament it has put on since his death, for one full year, beginning with the organization’s Volleyball tournament last fall through to December’s State Bowling Tournament in Peoria, continuing through to this tournament.

“He helped develop this tournament into the 109 teams we have this year,” Snyder said. “It’s an enormous undertaking for the community and for all the volunteers, and a lot of this was Ron’s vision as to how we could (make it) grow.”