Minor League Sports

Cedar Rapids Titans limping to season finish with hope for franchise buyer

Titans (1-10) lose ninth game in a row and 26th of last 28, 56-45, to Sioux Falls

Arizona Rattlers quarterback Jeff Ziemba (13) takes a snap against the Cedar Rapids Titans during the second quarter of their Indoor Football League game at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, May. 5, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Arizona Rattlers quarterback Jeff Ziemba (13) takes a snap against the Cedar Rapids Titans during the second quarter of their Indoor Football League game at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, May. 5, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Two closing dates have come and gone, but there is still optimism that the sale of the Cedar Rapids Titans indoor football franchise will get done.

“Any time you have a business transaction of this magnitude, there is due diligence from the league, there is due diligence from the buying party,” Cedar Rapids Co-Owner/General Manager Chris Kokalis said before the Titans lost their ninth game in a row, 56-45, to the Sioux Falls Storm in an Indoor Football League game Saturday night at the U.S. Cellular Center. “That’s the process that we’re in right now. We’re trying to provide them with as much information. They’re new to this business. We’re still hoping, aiming for a June 1 transaction date.”

Kokalis declined to divulge whether the prospective ownership group has local ties. Should the sale not be completed, the franchise is expected to fold after seven years once the current season ends on June 16. The deadline to notify the IFL of participation for the 2019 season is September 1.

“I want to see the Titans continue, especially to these loyal fans,” Kokalis said. “We’ve got some great season-ticket holders and I think everyone kind of understands the situation. Right now, it’s survival mode. Find a new ownership group, have them come in and put some fresh blood into the franchise and kind of get it back to where it was.”

After four consecutive playoff appearances from 2013-2016, the Titans are just 2-25 in their last two seasons.

The ownership group — which includes Kokalis and Barry Smith, Toni Smith and Alexis Smith of Marion — also owns the Cedar Rapids Rampage professional soccer franchise. While also technically for sale, in March the group signaled they were moving on from the Rampage after three years with the announcement of the formation of an expansion Major Arena Soccer League franchise in Florida. The move of former Cedar Rapids Rampage players to the Orlando SeaWolves began Wednesday with the signing of Gordy Gurson, who posted 75 goals and 36 assists in 53 games for the Rampage.

“No bites as far as the Rampage go,” Kokalis said. “One thing that I’d like people to explore is the potential of an M2 (MASL developmental league) franchise. … Six homes games, six away games. … If that is something that there was interest in, it is a smaller-scale budget. You can run that on a $25,000 budget based on whatever you could work out with the arena.”

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As for the Titans, a lead after each of the first three quarters evaporated during a 24-8 final frame for the Storm. Quarterback Jake Medlock threw for 149 yards and three touchdowns for Cedar Rapids (1-10), which lost for the 26th time in 28 games dating back to the 2016 IFL playoffs.

Former Texas Tech receiver Javon Bell posted two touchdowns receptions for the Titans, while reigning IFL defensive player of the week James Calhoun tallied 14 tackles, one for loss and returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown.

Sioux Falls — which won six consecutive IFL championships from 2011-16 — improved to 8-3 this season.

The Titans will close out the home portion of their schedule June 2 against the Nebraska Danger. Their final two games of the 2018 season are on the road, June 9 at Green Bay and June 16 at Iowa.

Sioux Falls Storm 56, Cedar Rapids Titans 45

AT U.S. CELLULAR CENTER

Sioux Falls 7 11 14 24—56

Cedar Rapids 10 13 14 8—45

CR — Javon Bell 6 pass from Jake Medlock (Micha Georgetti kick)

SF — Marques Rogers 10 run (Miles Bergner kick)

CR — FG 51 Georgetti

SF — Team safety

SF — 5 blocked kick return by Chad Stoterau (Kick failed)

CR — Marquel Wade 16 pass from Medlock (Georgetti kick)

CR — 27 interception return James Calhoun (Kick blocked)

SF — FG 19 Bergner

SF — Lorenzo Brown 3 run (Bergner kick)

CR — Jake Medlock 1 run (Georgetti kick)

SF — Brown 1 run (Bergner kick)

CR — Bell 21 pass from Medlock (Georgetti kick)

SF — FG 34 Bergner

SF — Mike Tatum 21 pass from Brown (Bergner kick)

CR — Medlock 1 run (Pass from Medlock to Wade)

SF — Brown 1 run (Bergner kick)

 

TEAM STATISTICS

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RUSHING — Sioux Falls: Marques Rodgers 20-111, Lorenzpo Brown 10-34, Lyle McCombs 9-11, Mike Tatum 2-9, Dillon Turner 2-5. Cedar Rapids: Raphael Lawson-Gayle 9-16, Jake Medlock 5-6.

PASSING — Sioux Falls: Brown 8-13-1-70, Turner 1-1-0-12; Cedar Rapids: Medlock 12-26-0-149.

RECEIVING — Sioux Falls: Tatum 2-27, Damien Ford 2-26, Rodgers 2-13, Judd Harrold 1-9, Lyle McComb 2-7; Cedar Rapids: Marquel Wade 4-53, Lawson-Gayle 3-37, Jordan Smith 2-31, Javon Bell 3-28.

 

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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