ARENAFOOTBALL
2014 Preview: Iowa Barnstormers

ARENAFOOTBALLDOTCOM Marco Thomas enjoyed a breakout season in 2013.
 
Marco Thomas enjoyed a breakout season in 2013.
ARENAFOOTBALLDOTCOM

March 1, 2014

By CHRIS HOPKINS

2013 Record: 6-12 (3rd in Central Division)

Last Playoff Appearance: 2000 (Lost to Nashville in quarterfinals)

Coach (Record): Mike Hohenesee (159-147 overall, 13-23 with Iowa)

Offensive Star: Marco Thomas, WR (142 receptions, 1564 yards, 30 touchdowns)

Defensive Star: Mike Lewis, DE (31 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles)

Offensive Team Ranks: 14th overall (14th rushing; 9th passing); 12th scoring (45.9 ppg)

Defensive Team Ranks: 7th overall (12th rushing; 6th passing); 7th scoring (50.7 ppg)

Key Additions: QB Carson Coffman (Chicago), WR Jamarko Simmons (San Jose), K Jose Martinez (Chicago)

Key Departures: QB JJ Raterink (Los Angeles), MLB Darnell Carter (Arizona), DB Mervin Brookins (Los Angeles)

Marquee Matchups: at Philadelphia (Week 6), Jacksonville (Week 8), Pittsburgh (Week 17)

Outlook: The Iowa Barnstormers enter their first season competing in the East Division. The team made waves during the offseason by trading away “America’s Quarterback” JJ Raterink to the LA KISS and picking up former Chicago Rush signal caller Carson Coffman. Coffman will compete with last season’s backup, Brian Reader, and rookie Alex Carder for the starting job. Whoever earns the job will be fortunate enough to have the talents of wide receiver Marco Thomas on the outside. Last season, Thomas led the Barnstormers in receiving and rushing yards and ranked fifth in the League in receptions (142). To help solidify a more productive rushing attack, the Barnstormers executed a trade with Arizona that sent veteran Mac linebacker Darnell Carter to the Rattlers in exchange for rookie fullback Cody Johnson. Johnson played in 51 games during his college career for the Texas Longhorns and ranks fifth all-time in rushing touchdowns. Iowa also brought in Jamarko Simmons from San Jose. Though primarily a receiver, the big-bodied Simmons has also lined up at fullback during his three-year AFL career. Defensive end Mike Lewis will once again serve as the anchor of Iowa’s defensive unit. Lewis, who was named to the All-Arena Second Team last season, ranked second in the League in sacks (12.5) and forced fumbles (6). In the secondary, Iowa hopes that defensive backs Ter’ran Benton, De’Mon Glanton, and Jason Simpson can continue building on the two years they’ve played together and become one of the AFL’s elite units.