Roughriders will host AAL championship

WHEELING — West Virginia Roughriders owner and general manager Gregg Fornario is a believer in Dorothy’s statement from “The Wizard of Oz” because there is no place like home.

Fornario learned late Tuesday morning that his Roughriders (12-0) would play host to Carolina Energy (9-0) at 7 p.m. June 29 inside WesBanco Arena for the AAL indoor football championship.

“We are excited to be playing in our third straight championship and to be hosting the undefeated Carolina Energy for the Jack Bowman Trophy,” Fornario said. “Obviously, to get this game at home was huge, not only for the players and coaches, but for the fans. They deserve it.

“I’m pumped up. The team is pumped up. We’re all excited. Hopefully, we can pick up a victory.”

Richmond, which re-located to Wheeling earlier this year, won the only Arena Professional Football championship in 2017. It finished second to the Atlanta Havoc last year in the AAL’s inaugural campaign.

The Northern Division champion Roughriders advanced with a 45-6 rout of Midwest Division champ West Michigan in the Northern Conference championship contest Saturday. Carolina, the Southern Division kingpin, upset the defending AAL champ Carolina Havoc, which re-located from Atlanta after the 2018 campaign, 52-38, inside Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte.

The Bowman Trophy is named after AAL President Jack Bowman who died in April. He was inducted into the Minor League Football Hall of Fame in 2002 and, according to reports, was regarded as an icon in arena football league circles.

The Roughriders are trying to become the first professional football team to go undefeated and win a title in the Friendly City since the Ohio Valley Greyhounds went 14-0 in 2003 en route to National Indoor Football League title with a victory over Utah. The Greyhounds also went 12-1 in winning a championship the season prior.

Ironically, Carolina head coach Ervin Bryson was a member of the Greyhounds coaching staff when they were members of the United Indoor Football League. That was after the Greyhounds won their titles.


¯ Season ticketholders can purchase their tickets starting today. General public tickets will go on sale Friday.

¯ Fornario said there are plans in the works to stage a pep rally on June 27, most likely outside WesBanco Arena somewhere. Further details will be released when they become official.

¯ He said that other events may also be held during the week leading up to the game.