For two years, indoor football has been in Baltimore (not including the previous team, the Baltimore Blackbirds) and in the team’s second season, the Baltimore Mariners of the AIFA (American Indoor Football Association) are in the playoffs. The Mariners locked up a playoff spot two weeks ago after pounding on the neighbors down I-295, the D.C. Armor, and a Harrisburg Stampede (who the Mariners defeated on Sunday) lost to the South Carolina Force.
The Mariners are one of the hottest team in the league with four consecutive wins and unfortunately the hardcore Baltimore football fans don’t know about it, let alone that they exist, but it’s no one fault. Nonetheless, the Mariners are still proud to represent the city. “It’s incredible to do it in a city (win) that loves sports,” said former linebacker of the Minnesota Vikings, Fearon Wright who was overwhelmed with excitement. “I played on all different levels, played on every professional level there is and this is my first ever winning season, first time going to a playoff. So, the excitement level right now and what this means to me and just to be apart of this team is incredible.”
There are three divisions in the AIFA (North, South and West) with fourteen teams and the top two teams from each division advance to the postseason (6). After finishing 4-10 in their expansion season, the Mariners are 8-4 in the North trailing the Reading Express (10-3) by 1 ½ games, but the Mariners own the tie-breaker against them. If the Mariners win their final two games, Saturday against the South Carolina Force (6-6) in Greenville, SC and at home against the D.C. Armor (3-9) and the Express lose to the Harrisburg Stampede(4-9) on June 27th, the Mariners will host the Express for the Division Championship (first round) on the 4th of July weekend.
The Mariners and the organization has made a great turnaround this season and it’s not often that a franchise have a true voice for the players and front office staff, which keeps everything in a ‘family’ prospective. “It feels very good (to make the playoffs),” offensive lineman/general manager of the Mariners, Greg Justice. “I’m wearing two hats here. I’m the GM during the week, I practice at night and I play on the weekend. So, I’m very proud of our coaching staff, our head coach (second year head coach, Chris Simpson) has done a great job this year, offensive (Mike Moyseenko) and defensive (Steve Gaunt) coordinators are doing great, but the biggest thing is our chemistry. We had some trials and tribulations off the field and we are all we got at this point. So, we’re going to keep pushing and every time we get together, we say ‘family’ and that’s what we are.”
The Mariners have accomplished one goal and that was to make it to the playoffs. The second task is to win the division and if that doesn’t happen, winning the AIFA championship will be the ultimate prize. Whether if there’s one fan or thousands of fans, the Mariners are focused and it’s their destiny. “It’s absolutely phenomenal and we’re going to take it to the top,” said Wright. “It’s our destiny this year to do it (win the championship) and in my long career, it’s my destiny to finally get one of those rings around my finger.”