Can you believe the Tulsa Talons have been playing arena ball since 2000. The af2 league expanded to a robust 30 teams for the upcoming season. Tulsa is a charter member of the league and continues to thrive both on and off the field.
Before we delve into another fantastic season of Talons football, let's give a quick shout out to the ladies. It is my responsibility to bring you information you would not normally seek to find on your own.
The Talons cheer squad ranks very high on the watchability scale. Visit HYPERLINK "http://www.tulsatalons.com"; www.tulsatalons.com for yourself. After perusing through each and every teams website, I am happy to report our girls have 'game'.
The Albany Conquest dance team, the Treasures, came in a close second - think pirate ship. We really need to find a name for our girls. Talon-ettes, Claws, Feathers, Garras (Talons in Spanish) -- Ok, I'm terrible at this, let's talk some football.
High-octane scoring is a staple of arena league games. It makes predicting individual games or a full season very complex to say the least.
Keep this little nugget in mind. The Talons entered the playoff chase each and every season of the league's existence. The organization has a total of zero losing seasons in the history books to date.
"We definitely have a lot more experience across the board than what we had last year," says first year head coach Mitch Allner. Allner began his coaching career two years ago with the Talons. He knows the league inside and out from his playing days as well.
"Three out of four players on our team this year are guys that have played this game before. In (af2), it's a nice asset to have. You're dealing with guys who have kind of been in the fire and understand what the game is about.
"That's the main difference between this year and last year," explains Allner. Aside from dealing with the media, his main responsibilities have not changed.
His recruiting prowess has paid dividends in the rebirth of Blankenship to Morgan.
B to the M. Ring a bell? "The two of them definitely had a connection two years ago.
"Donovan is a fantastic receiver and Josh is an amazing quarterback. He's done a really great job lately orchestrating our offense," says the hopeful Allner.
He's Baaack. "It feels great. It's where I want to be. It's where I've always wanted to play. It's good to be back home," says Tulsa native and af2 vet Josh 'Bam Bam' Blankenship.
As most recall, two years ago he helped light the score board and alter the record books with Donovan 'Spiderman' Morgan. Talon fans are salivating just thinking about the magic returning.
"Two years ago -- that was a pretty special thing we had. Hopefully we can do that again. More than (setting records) we want to win championships. We want to win a ring," says the ever humble Blankenship. It is almost like his dad is a coach or something.
Why two years ago and not last year? What happened last year? Blankenship signed a contract with Memphis. He was subsequently traded to Stockton California. Eerily familiar subplot to his TU tenure.
"It kind of caught me off guard. They had their quarterback who won a championship the previous year -- he had gotten cut from an (AFL 1) team and they wanted to bring him back," he recalls.
The common theme emanating from the organization is how the fan base is tremendous. Not only from an attendance standpoint but also from a noise standpoint. A real cacophony.
"We have the most loyal fan base you will find anywhere," says Blankenship, the starting quarterback. He should know. He's traveled the U.S. in search of the perfect team environment.
"It is just a core group. (The fans) are always there and they don't miss a thing," he says. Larger arenas don't equate to louder, more raucous crowds.
The Tulsa Convention Center, 100 Civic Center, appears to be a perfect fit for the Talons. What becomes of the team once the BOK Center is erect? By the way -- doesn't it seem like we've been talking about the 'new' arena coming forever?
"It's a balance of things. You've got your positives and negatives. Obviously it's kind of a home field advantage situation where you've got the smaller venue with the crowd noise. The new place is going to be so nice you almost don't want to miss out on that," ponders Blankenship.
As far as coach Allner knows, the team will play at the Center upon completion. However, he did not want to commit 100 percent and directed me to the owners. We'll catch up with them soon enough and here is why.
"When it comes to arena 2 football there is not a better (organization). The way that our owners treat the player and different things they provide for them - they bought a travel bus for our team.
"As a player and as a coach I've played and been to quite a few different (af2) places and without a doubt it's the best place to play. We've got a great fan base.
"Our fans have always been great ever since I've been here. It's topnotch, there's no doubt about it," says Allner.
For ticket information contact 294-1000 or visit the previously mentioned web site. The first game is set for Sat., March 31 at 7pm.
Another great season is about to begin. Enjoy the season and don't take a winning franchise for granted.
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