After a season of great success for the Baltimore Mariners (advancing to the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s brief history), it wouldn’t be complete with out having some All-Pros from the team. Five Mariners, running back Isaiah Grier, defensive backs Armar Watson and Richard Johnson, wide receiver Jamaal Stokes, and kicker J.R. Cipra, were named to the Vidswap.com/AIFA All-Pro Team. Grier and Watson were named First-Team All-Pro, while the other three received Honorable Mention AIFA (American Indoor Football Association) All-Pro.
Grier led the league in rushing because of his uncanny ability to hit the holes and finding the small gaps and creases on the shortened indoor field earning 514 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. In a league where passing is paramount, Grier’s accomplishment at running the ball is remarkable.
The Mariners led the AIFA in interceptions with 42, returning 11 for touchdowns. Watson contributed just about half of them himself (17) which was a league high and scored off of 3 picks, also broken up 22 passes for a league high 2.79 a game.
As Honorable Mention All-Pro Honoraries, Johnson, Stokes and Cipra had outstanding seasons as well. Stokes led the Mariners in catches (71, 9th in the league), yards (763, 8th in the league) with ten touchdown receptions and Johnson (as Watson’s right hand man) had 10 picks, finishing 4th among league leaders. Cipra was the most outstanding kicker in the AIFA as he led the league with 172 points (29 points more than the second place finisher), 34 field goals made and finished third in PATs with 70. “This dedication to team first, individual second leaves little room for personal rewards,” said general manager Greg Justice. “To see our Mariners players rewarded on the All-Pro team is a true measure of the quality of both our players and the Mariner organization. I am very proud and look forward to an even brighter 2010.”
Having a solid kicking game is tremendous in indoor football, especially when a team can gain an extra point when the ball is kicked through the uprights during the kickoff. The Mariners recognize how important that is and inked Cipra to a new deal on Aug. 13th. Cipra is from Ohio, where he was an All-State kicker in high school at Mayfield High School in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, played four years at Ohio Northern University, where he earned Division III All-American honors and played six seasons of professional football, af2 (Arena Football League 2) and AIFA.
But Cipra (Garry J.R. Cipra) resides here in Baltimore and is a physical education teacher at Montibello Elementary/Middle School (#44) located on 32nd Street. Cipra is preparing for this school year and at the same time, is excited about the team, living in Baltimore and his legitimate chance in winning another ring (won a championship with the Canton Legends in 2006). “I would like to get another ring and I really think the best chance of doing so is with Baltimore,” said Cipra. “With Muggy (Greg Justice) and coach (Chris) Simpson, we can’t fail.”