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Rampage Connections Abound in af2

by Randy Snow

Originally posted on ArenaFan.com, Monday, February 2, 2009

While the Arena Football League sits out the 2009 season, arenafootball2 is going ahead with its season as planned. The af2 kicks off its 10th season on March 20 and it will run through August. If you attend any af2 games this season, or watch any of the games over the Internet, you will be able to see some former players and coaches from the Grand Rapids Rampage on the sidelines, including two former head coaches. In fact, they will even be facing off against each other on several occasions when their teams meet on the gridiron.

Former Rampage head coach Michael Trigg is now the head coach and Director of Football Operations for the af2 Corpus Christi Sharks in Texas. Trigg was the head coach in Grand Rapids from 1998-2003. He guided the team to a win over the Nashville Kats in ArenaBowl XV in 2001. In 2004, he became the head coach of the AFL expansion Philadelphia Soul. He then took over the af2 expansion Sharks in 2007 and has been with the team ever since. In December, the Sharks also signed former Rampage kicker Nick Gatto to play for the team in 2009. Gatto played for Grand Rapids in 2004.

Former Rampage quarterback Clint Dolezel was recently named the offensive coordinator of the af2 Florida Firecats. Dolezel played for Grand Rapids from 2001-2003 and was the quarterback during the team’s ArenaBowl XV title season. He spent the past three seasons playing for the AFL Dallas Desperados. Trigg and Dolezel will meet in Florida on May 1 when the Sharks travel to play the Firecats.

Another former Grand Rapids head coach is now in Oklahoma City. Sparky McEwen started out as a quarterback with the Rampage in 1998. He worked his way up to offensive coordinator and eventually became the head coach of the Rampage from 2005-2007. In 2004, he was the offensive coordinator of the af2 Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz and became the head coach and President of Football Operations in 2008. His defensive coordinator in Oklahoma City is Stan Davis, who was also the defensive coordinator in Grand Rapids from 2005-2006.

McEwen and Trigg will face each other on the gridiron twice this season. The first time is on May 25 when the Yard Dawgz travel to Texas and the second is on June 20 when Corpus Christi travels to Oklahoma City.

The af2 Albany Firebirds recently named Tony Bowick as their head coach for the 2009 season. Bowick played OL/DL for the Rampage from 1998-2001 and again in 2005. He appeared in a total of 55 games for Grand Rapids. Bowick and Dolezel will face each other on April 10 when the Firecats travel north to play the Firebirds.

Another former Rampage player, Gary Compton, is now the head coach of the af2 expansion Milwaukee Iron. Compton played WR/LB for Grand Rapids during nine games in 2002. His defensive coordinator in Milwaukee is Madison “Mad Dog” Johnson, who played OL/DL for the Rampage from 2002-2003 and again in 2005. He appeared in 20 games as a player and then became a Rampage assistant coach.

Compton and Bowick will face off against each other twice in 2009. First on May 30, when Albany travels to Milwaukee, and again on July 24, when Albany visits Milwaukee. 

There may be other Grand Rapids connection in the af2, but these are the ones that I am aware of at this time. While the Rampage may not take to the field in 2009, their presence will surely be felt throughout the af2 during the upcoming season.


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