Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Iowa Thunder Finish Regular Season 6-2

Your Iowa Thunder completed the most successful football season in Iowa Women’s Football history with a 33-14 victory on Saturday, June 19th, 2010 in Kansas City against their divisional rivals the Kansas City Spartans.

This road trip started off in a very ominous fashion with a blown tire on their charter bus that delayed their arrival to Spartan Stadium by more than one and half hours. Despite the adversity, the Thunder coaching staff took full advantage of the stop along I-35 by completing a vast majority of their pre-game walkthrough at a small truck stop. The delay along I-35 would push back the start of the contest by 20 minutes and early in the contest seemed to really affect the Thunder.

Early in the contest the Spartans struck first on a long pass play caused by a blown assignment by the Thunder secondary. This additional adversity though only seemed to awaken the Thunder in all facets of their game and shortly thereafter the Thunder regained the lead and never looked back.

Offensively the Thunder for the first time in their two year history fired on all cylinders in both the passing and rushing game at the same time. The Player of the Game for all those in attendance were the ladies of the Offensive Line of the Thunder which dealt with six and seven man rushes all evening and only gave up only one sack and helped their offense move the ball for over 420 yards (179 Passing, 241 Rushing). 2009 American Conference MVP Jennifer Boling (14 Carries, 216 Yards, 2 Touchdowns) led the rushing attack, including a team record 96 Yard touchdown in theearly part of the 4th Quarter which made the score 27-14 and surpassed her league best 1266 yards in 2009 with a 1267 yard campaign this season. Quarterback Courtney Axline (8 of 12, 154 Yards, 2 Touchdowns), who missed most of the 2010 season due to the birth of her son, Cooper, returned to her 2009 form. The entire Thunder receiving corp would get involved on this evening. Kendra Parker (3 Receptions, 83 Yards, 2 Touchdowns) would lead all receivers with the help of Sara Trammel (3 Receptions, 46 Yards), Steph Langstraat (2 Receptions, 20 Yards), Jennifer Boling (2 Receptions, 20 Yards), and Ashley Blackford (1 Reception, 10 Yards).

Offensive Coordinator Isaiah Shnurman stated after the game, “I am really proud of my offense. I wish we would have been able to get to this point earlier in the season, but the truth is that if I had to have a choice, I would not trade this season or how it has progressed for anything. We have had to overcome a lot and learn on the fly and I am so excited that we are executing the way we are going into the playoffs. The Spartans are the most athletic defense we have faced all season and playing them the last week before the playoffs and doing what we did have given us a lot of confidence.”

Defensively, the Thunder continued to show that nothing would come easy for any team they have to encounter. This year’s Defense improved upon their total points given up lowering their mark from 101 in 2009 to 99 in 2010 (14 Points given up by Offense). Linebackers Jennifer Hirakawa (16 Total Tackles, 2 Tackles for Loss) and Cindy Taft (9 Total Tackles, 1 Tackles for Loss) would lead the defense statistically. Big individual plays from Lulu Keoothai (5 Total Tackles, 3 Tackles for Loss, and 1 Fumble Recovery returned for 50 Yards), Amanda Brakke (6 Total Tackles, 2 Interceptions), and Bri Robinson (3 Total Tackles, 3 Tackles for Loss, 2 Forced Fumbles, 2 Fumble Recoveries) helped the defense to shut down the Spartan rushing and passing attack.

On special teams, Allie Millonig continued her amazing rookie season with a 30 yard Punt Return for a touchdown which put the game away at 33-14.

“I am so proud of my team. Our number one goal coming into this season was to improve upon our record, which we did and to make the playoffs, which we did. We have overcome a lot of adversity this year versus our 2009 season internally, but it has made us a much better team and brought us together in a way I never imagined. This is the second game in a row all three phases of our team has performed at a high level and getting to this point at this time of the season gives us a lot of confidence. We are thoroughly excited and ready to go up to Minnesota and play the Machine again at their place,” stated Head Coach William Grimes.

The Thunder (6-2) takes on the Minnesota Machine (6-2) in the opening round of the WFA playoffs on Saturday, June 26th, 2010. The Thunder would next play again with a victory over the Machine at home against the Lonestar Mustangs (8-0) or on the road versus the Pacific Warriors (7-1) depending on the results of their June 26th, 2010 contest.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Revenge Is Sweet

On Saturday at Jack Griffin Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota the order of business for the day for your Iowa Thunder was simple…..Redemption. And Redemption they would have with a final score of 21-13 evening the season series at 1-1.

“My message to my team all week was simple and clear. Control the controllable! In other words, don’t worry about the score, the conditions, the refs, or anything else besides making it your objective to one do your job and two beat the player across from you on each and every play. Football is a high speed chess match which requires every player on the field to do their job. When each individual does their job and wins the individual battle and you add those up and you have more than the other team you have won that play. When you do that all game you will typically come out on top in the end,” stated Head Coach William Grimes prior to the game.

Offensively for this battle, Offensive Coordinator Isaiah Shnurman took to a more conservative approach and relied heavily on his seasoned and extremely talented Offensive Line and stable of Running Backs. All-American Jennifer Boling (19 Carries, 124 Yards, 3 Touchdowns) along with Megan Egli (5 Carries, 24 Yards), Allie Millonig (10 Carries, 40 Yards) and Chantella Steffy (3 Carries, 8 Yards) would help the Iowa Thunder control the clock and wear down the Machine defense.

Defensively, the Thunder harassed the Machine Offense all evening and only allowed one score on the evening off of a short field. Key contributors on the defensive line were All American Bri Robinson (9 Total Tackles, 6 Tackles For Loss, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Fumble Recovery) along with Kristy Sorg (8 Total Tackles, 2 Tackles For Loss) and Love Brown (8 Total Tackles, 1 Tackle For Loss, and .5 Sack). At Linebacker, All Americans Jennifer Hirakawa (18 Total Tackles, 3 Tackles For Loss, .5 Sacks, and 1 Forced Fumble) and Cindy Taft (14 Total Tackles, 1 Tackle For Loss) continue to put up strong statiscal numbers on the season. Other key Linebacker contributors were Megan Egli (11 Total Tackles, 2 Tackles For Loss), Chantella Steffy (11 Total Tackles, 5 Tackles For Loss) and Mook Bascomb (8 Total Tackles, 2 Tackles For Loss). The Secondary was very opportunistic on this evening with the help of Interceptions from All American Kendra Parker (6 Total Tackles, 1 Interception) and fellow Safety Teresa Moss (5 Total Tackles, 2 Interceptions).

One of the biggest factors of this contest was the punting of Rookie Punter, Allie Millonig (4 Punts, 155 Yards, 3 inside the 10) who had three kicks of over 40 yards and put the Machine inside of their own 10 yard line. This enabled the Thunder to control the battle of field position for most of the contest and aided heavily in securing this victory.

After the game, Coach Grimes was asked about the importance of this outcome. “A win is a win. I do not care if you win by 1 or 40, to me and my staff we do not care. As far as who will get home field regarding the playoffs and such it really does not matter. Both the Machine and my team have proven that location is not a factor in the outcome of this game. We have an amazing rivalry going between two very talented and well coached teams and I am excited to be playing them again in two weeks. Playing each other 3 times in one season and so close together makes things very difficult on coaches as there is really not a lot you can change or alter about your style that the other coach does not already know. Regardless of where the game is played, I am excited and I know my team is excited to get to it, but first things first and that is our game this upcoming Saturday against the Spartans in KC. Our first goal this season was to improve upon our record from last year and we have an excellent opportunity this week to do that.”

The Thunder (5-2) takes on the Kansas City Spartans (3-4) at 7pm on Saturday, June 19th, 2010. See website for complete details.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Keeping Our Heads Up!

The Iowa Thunder are coming off a tough home lose to the defending WFA National Champions, the St. Louis Slam. Here’s a stat for you sports fans…we scored 14 points against the WFA defending NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! That hasn’t happened to them a whole lot in the past two seasons.
I'm proud that we continued to play together as a team when our spirits could have been broken. We took a beating but we never stopped getting back up. This type of opportunity allows us to learn so much about the game of football. We haven’t been playing together for nine years, we’re a newer organization in the league and we will get there someday.
We had great moments of success on both offense and defense. The Thunder defense held several scoring drives made by the SLAM. Resulting in multiple punts by both teams. The Thunder offense ran a couple new formations which allowed players to work on blocking and timing. I hope you will all take a look at the link tab at check out the WFA website and see some of the amazing things we’re doing throughout the league.