Titans' coach, GM reflect on inaugural season

QB Hansen made great first impression

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Titans head coach Kyle Moore-Brown looked like a man in need of a little rest as he sat in a recliner and signed autographs for fans this past Saturday night at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Moments after his team closed its first Indoor Football League season in Cedar Rapids with a wild, 42-38, win over the Nebraska Danger, Moore-Brown already was looking ahead to next season. The Titans finished 4-10 in their inaugural season in Cedar Rapids after the franchise was relocated from LaCrosse, Wis.

“It was a learning experience for me,” Moore-Brown said. “It was tough for me to see us finish this way because I have been with these guys from the beginning of camp and they continued to work hard for me all year long.”

What started out as a promising season turned quickly. Cedar Rapids opened 2-1, but got hit hard by injuries. Between injuries and roster moves, not one player, according to the Indoor Football League’s official website, took the field for all 14 games. Defensive back T.J. Simmons played the most, missing just one game. On top of the injuries, the Titans were forced to switch offensive coordinators when Tommie Williams left for personal reasons and was replaced with Corey Bethany.

“We lost some big guys, beginning with Nick Campbell from Iowa State in our first preseason game,” said Titans co-owner and general manager Chris Kokalis. “We were hit hard by injuries. Playing on this turf can take a lot out of a guy’s body.

“Are there things we can improve on? Of course there is. We’ll sit down with Kyle and the other coaches and start our process for next year right away.”

Both Moore-Brown and Kokalis insist there are several players who could be in the mix again next year. Simmons was twice named the IFL’s Special Teams Player of the Week. Defensive lineman Xzavie Jackson was the emotional leader of the defense and came up with several timely plays. And, after going through three quarterbacks, it appears as if the Titans may have found a keeper for 2013.

Colton Hansen, an Olin native who finished his collegiate career at the University of Dubuque in 2009, was signed at mid-season after the Titans elected to release Willie Copeland, the starter for the first six games. Hansen played well in the final two games, playing in relief of the injured Kenneth Black Jr. He threw six touchdown passes in a loss at Bloomington and followed it up with a strong performance last Saturday, throwing four TD passes and running 40 yards for another score.

“He adds versatility to our offense,” Moore-Brown said of Hansen. “He’s a winner. That’s the kind of guy we’re going to be searching for, with that kind of attitude.”

Despite the 4-10 record, Moore-Brown didn’t sound like a man in danger of losing his job.

“The ownership group told me as long as I want to coach they will have me here,” he said. “I’m not just content with being here, I want to win. I want to add to the tradition of winning football programs here in the state of Iowa. I want to be a part of that. I’m going to work hard in the off-season and have this team ready to go next season.”

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