DEFENDING THE FORT-FREEDOM BEGINS
With determination, local natives Bill Fahlsing and Mark Chappuis have assumed the operation of the Fort Wayne Freedom indoor football team. Late in September, the Continental Indoor Football League met in Canton, Ohio with Fort Wayne Freedom’s newly hired general manager Brad Harris.
In 2008, Freedom announced that Trine University’s Coach Matt Land was to lead the team for the final four games of the season, and to return for the 2009 season. Land led the Freedom to a 14-2 regular season record in 2005, the best in franchise history. Land, was voted Summit Athletic Conference Coach of the Year at South Side High School and United Indoor Football Coach of the Year leading the Fort Wayne Freedom, in 2005.
The first two players to sign with the Freedom were a previous quarterback Randy Hutchison and, a center, Remele Penick, an original member of the Freedom.
Hutchison, according to an interview with Stacy Clardie from The Journal Gazette, is geared up to play with the Fort Wayne Freedom.
“It’s definitely exciting. My drive to the practice field is five minutes instead of two hours and five minutes (to Kalamazoo). It’s nice. I wanted to play here last year, and I stayed loyal to my ownership up there and said I’d give them one more year. We were successful and had a lot of fun, but I told them that at the beginning of the season last year, if I played (this year), it’d be down here. I’m excited about the new leadership we have here and obviously coach Land is a success everywhere he’s been, so that’s definitely exciting.”
Jeffrey Lewis returns as defensive lineman. Lewis was an important link in the defense chain for the Freedom last season.
With his fifth season in Fort Wayne, leading the team last year in rushing and touchdowns, 2008 franchise player Rocky Harvey returns to defend the Fort. Rocky is known for his drive to punish opponents, his ability to find the end zone and for his touchdown celebrations. Two receivers joining the Freedom are Keith Recker and Luther Stroder (University of St. Francis). Scott Heighland is returning for his fifth stint in a Freedom uniform as defensive backfield and crowd favorite for his hard hits.
Brian Dolph (WR), Nick Body (WR), Dan Musielewicz (WR), JaRell Smith (DB) and Adrian Reese (WR), all just recently signed. Remembering last season with the Saginaw Sting, Wide Receiver Body recalls he caught 101 passes for 39 touchdowns and over 1000 yards, where he led his team to the CIFL championship and was named MVP of the championship game.
After spending the previous two seasons in Kalamazoo, Dan Musielewicz’s decision came down to his experiences in Fort Wayne.
“I am extremely excited to be back in Fort Wayne. Having played for, and against Fort Wayne in the past; I remember the great fan support. We would have 7,000 plus fans; I look forward to being a part of bringing back that support, playing with a great group of guys, and putting a product on the field that fans here in Fort Wayne can be proud of.”
Also, a Southside graduate Adrian Reese returns to the Freedom for his 6th season. Remembered for his electrifying kick-off returns, Reese is another member of the Freedom who is anxious to bring a football championship to Fort Wayne. Having been with the inaugural team, Reese is the all-time leader in kick-off returns for the franchise.
Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Ja’Rell “Peanut” Smith, 5’9”, 185 pounds, attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri where he played for 8-time All-Pro Lemar Perrish. While there, Smith accumulated a total of fourteen interceptions, ninety-three tackles, five fumble recoveries, forced eight fumbles, and had a school record of fifty-six pass break ups. This will be Smith’s second year with the Freedom.
Fahlsing said, “Now with experienced management, high impact players and professional staff, we are confident that the fans will once again embrace the team they love.”
Preparing to “Defend the Fort,” the Fort Wayne Freedom team will be in competition playing 7 other Indoor Football League teams. They will be going up against teams from Huntington (West Virginia), Milwaukee (Wisconsin), Marion (Ohio), Chicago (IL), Rock River (IL), Wheeling (West Virginia), and Madison (Wisconsin).
They will begin the 2009 season on the road March 14th at Huntington, W. Virginia. The Home Opener will be Saturday, March 21st, kickoff is at 7:30pm, in the Memorial Coliseum.
The 2009 Fort Wayne Freedom professional indoor football season is near, and now is the time to reserve your seats. Great seats are going fast! Season tickets are on sale, with tickets for fundraisers also available. You may call (260) 557-5115 for more information. Single game tickets will go on sale February 10, 2009 at the Coliseum ticket office.
For additional information check their website at www.fwfreedom.com and to become a Freedom fan, www.freedomfanclub.com.
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