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Minor League Sports

Marquel Wade, Cedar Rapids River Kings host potential new rival in Quad City Steamwheelers

Receiver leads Indoor Football League in receptions as River Kings seek back-to-back victories

Marquel Wade of the River Kings (3) pulls in a pass as he leaps into the endzone for a touchdown against the Sioux Falls Storm during the first half of an Indoor Football League game at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, February 23, 2019. (Cliff Jette /The Gazette)
Marquel Wade of the River Kings (3) pulls in a pass as he leaps into the endzone for a touchdown against the Sioux Falls Storm during the first half of an Indoor Football League game at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, February 23, 2019. (Cliff Jette /The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Marquel Wade is ahead of the game. The Cedar Rapids River Kings receiver not only leads the Indoor Football League with 18 receptions, but his grasp of the offense installed by Coach Mark Stoute was immediate due to their time together with the 2017 Jacksonville Sharks of the National Arena League.

“It is an NFL-style, CFL-style offense,” said Stoute, who will lead the River Kings (1-2) into an IFL game against the Quad City Steamwheelers (1-1) on Friday at 7:05 at the U.S. Cellular Center. “We’re reading the routes as we run them. Some of the routes are just based on what we see for coverage. We just have to get them on the same page as the quarterbacks. We’re starting to get there.”

More and more, River Kings receivers are beginning to run free through the defensive secondary. Stoute points out that these instances are not the result of busted coverages, but are a product of the route-running philosophy. An early beneficiary has been Wade, who has 18 receptions for 187 yards and five TDs through three games. His familiarity with the offense has allowed him to help teammates Rickey Galvin and Jordan Smith — who caught five passes for 50 yards and two TDs in a win over San Diego on Saturday — shorten the learning curve.

“I’ve been trying to help around with the receivers and the running backs,” Wade said. “Keeping them in the same place, they know the playbook and knowing what formation that they need to be in.”

Wade and Smith are the only two full-time players that were with the franchise last season. New ownership, a new general manager and the return of Stoute, who coached Cedar Rapids from 2013-16, has helped present a unified organization from the top down.

“The thing that has been different is being more into the community as well as being as a team,” Wade said. “Now, with this year, it’s coming as we’re trying to be a team. Everybody is trying to be as one.”

Quad City is a new entrant into the IFL after moving from the Champions Indoor Football league, which makes it the closest geographic rival to the River Kings. While the potential for a new rivalry could begin Friday, the River Kings are more concerned with building off their first win.

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“We’re just trying to stay consistent,” Wade said. “If we stay consistent, everybody play on one accord and everybody come as one as a group, we’re going to keep as we need on this streak and get this No. 2 win.”

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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