CEDAR RAPIDS — In his second Indoor Football League stint in Cedar Rapids, Mark Stoute was unable to replicate his past success.
As a result, the city’s ninth-year franchise will be searching for a new head coach for the fourth year in a row.
“We have agreed to go our separate ways and not renew his contract for next season,” Cedar Rapids River Kings General Manager Reggie Harris told The Gazette. “But to open up our head coaching position.”
Stoute, 62, led the Cedar Rapids Titans to four-straight playoff appearances during the heyday of the franchise from 2013-16, then returned last September following the sale of the team and a rebranding effort that resulted in a name change to River Kings.
The 2019 season started with a narrow three-point loss to eventual IFL champion Sioux Falls and a win in Week 3 over expansion San Diego, but the River Kings dropped their final 11 games — including two shutouts — and finished 1-13.
The franchise is 5-39 over its last three seasons under three different head coaches (Marvin McNutt, Marvin Jones, Stoute).
“We are in a position where we have to win now given the last few years of performance in the market and the way that we closed the season out,” Harris said. “I know we had injury issues and that type stuff, but it is just kind of one of those where I felt like we needed a fresh start and fresh approach and just start over.”
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Harris, 45, joined Cedar Rapids mid-season after predecessor Ryan Eucker assumed the same role in San Diego, which is controlled by the same group (Roy Choi, Matt Stone) that owns the River Kings. Harris was previously the GM in Kansas City for franchises in both Champions Indoor Football and the Arena Football League.
“I would actually like to have the head coach identified in the next 30 days,” Harris said. “We have got a couple of candidates already in mind that we will be talking to over the next two weeks. … I am looking for a guy that has got the experience of winning, but then also the recruiting and being able to get to these players is going to be really important, so I want a guy that has experience in the game at a high level.”
Where Stoute was strong in identifying players from the Northeast, Harris is seeking candidates that can help him locate more local talent.
“I want to have more of an effort on recruiting the Midwest,” Harris said. “In particular, Iowa, and we really did not have any significant presence in that area this past year.”
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