CEDAR RAPIDS — The Indoor Football League playoffs began Friday night with the first of two first-round games.
For the third year in a row, Cedar Rapids was on the outside looking in at the IFL postseason qualifiers.
“Winning is a big, big deal for us,” first-year River Kings General Manager Reggie Harris told The Gazette. “Winning and community. … That is coming from the ownership, as well. … That is what I hear from them on a continual basis. We have got to get more competitive and we have to get well-known in the community and actually contribute to the community. We are not there just to take tickets off the board. We are there to actually get involved because that is what we are there for. Minor-league sports is to develop talent, but it is also to get arm and arm with the community, as well, and get active and see what we can bring. They weren’t thrilled with our results this year, on or off the field.”
The River Kings finished the season with a 1-13 record, but were competitive for much of the season until the bottom fell out June 1. Cedar Rapids was outscored 159-15 over its final three games, which included a pair of listless shutouts.
The franchise has won just five games in the last three seasons. The 2019 season was the first under new owners Roy Choi, Matt Stone and Ryan Eucker, who oversaw a rebranding effort that changed the team name from Titans to River Kings.
Despite the lackluster on-field results and attendance numbers that plummeted as the losses mounted, the franchise appears committed to fielding a team in 2020.
“That is what I have been told,” Harris said. “I have been given the orders to get ready for season-ticket renewals and going out, meeting with the sponsors and putting the plans forward. The word that I have been given is we are full-steam ahead for next season. … Obviously we could have sold more tickets and we definitely could have won more games, but the overall improvement over what has happened in the market in years past was encouraging to them. So they just want to see us continue to build on that and show progress and that we really do have a community that supports us and wants us there. That starts with us supporting the community.”
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Harris stated the franchise is committed to Cedar Rapids and there have been no conversations with other cities, local or otherwise, with regards to moving the team. With that decided, the first order of offseason business is likely the future of Coach Mark Stoute. After a successful four-year run with the Titans from 2013-16 in which he won 42 games and reached the playoffs in all four seasons, Stoute was unable to duplicate that success with the 2019 River Kings.
“He and I will have a conversation early next week and finalize what we are doing going forward,” Harris said. “He and I are both aware that 1-13 in professional sports doesn’t cut it. We are going to have a pretty good assessment on why that happened and then figure out what is going to happen from there.”
If Stoute is dismissed, the franchise will be in search of its fourth head coach in four years. No matter who the coach is in 2020, the roster will require a more veteran presence in order to be successful.
“We struggled because of the youth and lack of experience,” Harris said.
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