The Cincinnati Commandos Indoor Football Team will play for their third consecutive league title on Monday, July 2 against the Florida Tarpons. The game will take place at the Germain Arena, in Estero, Florida, with kickoff set for 7:30 pm.
The Commandos advanced to the championship game with a 62-40 win over the Erie Explosion in the UIFL North Division Finals and improved to 9-2 on the season. The Florida Tarpons will enter the game with an unbeaten record at 12-0, after capturing the South Division Finals with a 60-29 victory over the Lakeland Raiders. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
The Commandos will be playing for their third consecutive league championship. Cincinnati won the 2010 and the 2011 championship while playing in the Continental Indoor Football League. The 2012 season, was the first season playing in the UIFL for both the Commandos and Tarpons.
The Commandos are led offensively by quarterback Tyler Sheehan, who led the entire UIFL with 59 touchdown passes and finished a very close second with 253.7 average passing yards per game. However, the status of Sheehan for the championship game is unknown, as he was unable to play in the North Division Finals because of an undisclosed injury. Wide receiver Nez Mincy, a former four-year starting high school quarterback at Cincinnati’s Jacob High School, filled in as if he were still a full-time quarterback, throwing for five touchdowns and running for an additional three scores, in the Commandos win.
Should Mincy not be called into duty as a thrower, his receiving skills are part of a very deep wide receiver corp. Former Middletown Middie, Phillip Barnett led the UIFL in catches per game at 7.7 and led the Commandos in receiving yards per game at 98 and in receiving touchdowns with 22. Mincy and Brandon Boehm chipped in with 14 and 13 touchdown catches respectively.
In all, the Commandos offense ranked number two in the UIFL in total offense, scoring offense and passing offense.
Defensively, the Commandos boasted lineman James Spikes as the UIFL North Division Defensive Player of the Year. Spike led a defensive front wall that was ranked number one in the league in rushing defense, as the opposing offense generated negative yardage rushing against Cincinnati. Spikes was tied for first in the UIFL with 16.5 tackles for loss and third in the league with 12 sacks. James Frazier added 10 quarterback sacks for the Commandos. Defensive back Corey Stewart led the stingy Commandos secondary with 14 interceptions including returning one for a score. Darren Barnett and E.J. Underwood also ran two interception returns for touchdowns. Barnett had seven picks, while Underwood had six. The Commandos led the UIFL in team interceptions with 38.
The Tarpons quarterback is an arena football legend and has an Ohio tie-in as well. Chris Wallace is a native of Springfield, Ohio and played collegiately at the University of Toledo. According to the Florida Tarpons website, Wallace played eight seasons with in the af2 team in Ft. Meyers, Florida and passed for more than 22,000 yards. In 2008, Wallace broke the all-time league record for touchdown passes (484) and became af2’s all-time yardage leader in 2009. In 2012, Wallace threw for 58 touchdown, second only to Sheehan and was fourth in average passing yards/game at 205.
The main receiving targets for Wallace are Carlos Singleton and Donald Fusilier. Singleton average just over 80 yards receiving per game, which led the team and had 24 touchdowns, while Fusilier led Florida with 27 touchdown catches on 65 yards receiving per game.
The Tarpons were fourth in the UIFL in total offense per game and third in passing and scoring offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, Florida allowed the fewest points per game in the league, at just over 24. Their total defense of yards per game was the second lowest in the UIFL at 116 a game, as was their rushing (1.4/game) and passing defense (114.6/game). Like the Commandos in the North Division, Florida has the Defensive Player of the Year in the South Division in defensive back Terrence Jones. Despite playing in the secondary, Jones was second on the team in tackles with 44 and topped the team with 9 interceptions, which was fourth best in the UIFL.