West Virginia Roughriders
The West Virginia Roughriders are a professional indoor football team based in Wheeling, West Virginia. They were founded in 2016 as the Richmond Roughriders and played at the Richmond Coliseum in 2017 and 2018. They were members the Arena Pro Football (APF) league in 2017. The Roughriders initially announced they were joining the National Arena League (NAL) for the 2018 season but then later joined the American Arena League (AAL). After the one season in the AAL, the owner announced he was creating his own league, Professional Arena Football, and left the AAL but the new league never gained traction and the team returned to the AAL. Concurrently, the Roughriders also moved to Wheeling due to arena issues in Richmond. They again announced they were not returning to the AAL for the 2020 season and joined the NAL two years after initially backing out.
|West Virginia Roughriders|
Play in Wheeling, West Virginia
at the WesBanco Arena
|Team colors||Black, lime green, silver, white|
|General manager||Marty Medovic|
|Head coach||Mook Zimmerman|
|League championships (2)|
|Conference championships (0)|
|Division championships (1)|
|Playoff appearances (3)|
Richmond Roughriders (2017–2018)Edit
The Roughriders were first formed in October 2016 as members of Arena Pro Football's inaugural season. The team would go undefeated in the 2017 season in the unstable APF. The Roughriders defeated the Florida Tarpons 71–61 to capture the APF's only championship.
At the end of the first season, the APF was announced to have merged with the Can-Am Indoor Football League for the 2018 season to create the American Arena League (AAL). The new league initially announced the Roughriders as members in the league, but ownership claimed they were still exploring their options and never committed to the AAL. On July 20, 2017, the National Arena League announced it had conditionally approved a team from Richmond as members for the 2018 season with the Roughriders confirming that they were finalizing their NAL expansion requirements. However, on September 13, 2017, the team announced that they were instead joining the American Arena League citing that the AAL would be a better fit for them.
In December 2017, rapper Jim Jones became part owner of the team along with the original owners Gregg Fornario and Mike Kacor. Jones immediately made the news by publicly offering the then-currently unemployed and controversial former NFL quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Johnny Manziel a position on the team. On January 26, 2018, the team announced the signing of controversial former NFL defensive lineman Greg Hardy. The signing gained significant media attention, mostly criticizing the move in response the on-going Me Too movement, heightened attention to the treatment of women, and Hardy's 2014 domestic violence charge.
In the 2018 season, the Roughriders continued to have success and went 7–1 for the season and first place finish, only losing to the Georgia Doom. After the Atlanta Havoc lost their final game of the season, also to the Doom, the Roughriders earned home field advantage for the playoffs. They defeated the Carolina Energy 57–43 in a semifinal game before facing the Havoc. The Roughriders led the game through the first half, but the Havoc came back to win the inaugural AAL championship game 58–50. After the end of the season, the Roughriders home, the Richmond Coliseum, was scheduled for demolition and to be replaced by a new venue. The team claimed any new arena would be priced out of their affordability and the Roughriders could not return to Richmond for a 2019 season. Majority owner and general manager Gregg Fornario stated they were looking into venues in Hershey, Reading, and Wilkes-Barre in Pennsylvania, Norfolk in Virginia, and Atlantic City in New Jersey.
West Virginia Roughriders (2019–present)Edit
On August 15, 2018, Roughriders' owner Gregg Fornario announced his intentions of creating a new league called Northern Arena Football (NAF). His Roughriders team was not initially planning on leaving the AAL with the NAF only having teams north of the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. However, by August 28, Fornario had rebranded the new league as Professional Arena Football (PAF) with multiple divisions, Northern Arena Football and Southern Arena Football, and the Roughriders were announced as part of Professional Arena Football on August 30, leaving the AAL. The league was also announced to have the New England Cavalry and Marion Mambas as members. By November 2018, no new teams had been accepted by the PAF and Fornario decided to not launch the league in 2019.
After the loss of the Richmond Coliseum, the Roughriders also settled on a lease to use WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia, becoming the West Virginia Roughriders. However, Fornario's plans to launch the new league fell through and the team rejoined the AAL for the 2019 season as part of a new Northern Division. The Northern Division consisted of the Burgh Defenders, Jersey Flight, and New England Bobcats. The Flight nearly folded at the start of the season and delayed their season starting date, the Bobcats folded midseason, and the Defenders lost their arena, leading to the Roughriders playing eight of their ten games at home. The team then went undefeated for a 10–0 record and eight wins against AAL opponents. They defeated the Flight in the divisional playoff championship before facing the West Michigan Ironmen, the Midwest Division champion. The Roughriders then advanced to their third straight league championship game, again at home, and beat the Carolina Energy 55–29 to win their first AAL championship.
Following the season, Fornario again announced he was removing the Roughriders from the AAL due to differences with league operations. On October 24, 2019, the Roughriders were official added to the National Arena League (NAL), two years after Fornario had decided to join the AAL instead of the NAL.
As of the 2019 season:
|League Champions||Division Champions||Playoff berth||League leader|
|Season||League||Division||Regular season||Postseason results|
|2017||APF||1st||4||0||0||Won APF Championship (Tarpons) 74–61|
|2018||AAL||1st||7||1||0||Won Semifinal (Carolina) 57–43|
Lost AAL Championship (Atlanta) 50–58
|2019||AAL||Northern||1st[a]||10||0||0||Won Division final (Jersey) 57–13|
Won Semifinal (West Michigan) 45–6
Won AAL Championship (Carolina) 55–29
|2020||NAL||Season cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic|
|Totals||21||1||0||All-time regular season record (2017–2019)|
|5||1||—||All-time postseason record (2017–2019)|
|26||2||0||All-time regular season and postseason record (2017–2019)|
- The AAL counted all games played by member teams, including games against non-league members, and forfeits in the league standings for the 2019 season.
2017 APF seasonEdit
|1||April 8||Alabama Outlawz||W 84–4||1–0||Richmond Coliseum|
|2||April 15||at River City Raiders||W 54–39||2–0||Family Arena|
|3||April 22||Savannah Coastal Outlaws||W 94–14||3–0||Richmond Coliseum|
|4||April 29||Carolina Cowboys (EIF)||W 92–0||Richmond Coliseum||Non-league game|
|5||May 6||Florida Tarpons||W 55–34||4–0||Richmond Coliseum|
|7||May 20||Atlanta Furious (EIF)||W 82–14||Richmond Coliseum||Non-league game|
|8||May 27||Triangle Torch (SIF)||W 69–40||Richmond Coliseum||Non-league game|
|9||June 10||Florida Tarpons||W 74–61||5–0||Richmond Coliseum||Championship game|
2018 AAL seasonEdit
|1||March 17||at High Country Grizzlies||W 34–19||1–0||George M. Holmes Convocation Center|
|3||March 31||Carolina Energy||W 52–38||2–0||Richmond Coliseum|
|4||April 7||Cape Fear Heroes||W 76–32||3–0||Richmond Coliseum|
|5||April 14||at Florida Tarpons||W 58–20||4–0||RP Funding Center|
|6||April 20||at Jersey Flight||W 56–50||5–0||CURE Insurance Arena|
|7||April 28||New England Cavalry||W 61–14||[a]||Richmond Coliseum||Non-league game|
|8||May 5||Peach State Cats||W 82–22||[a]||Richmond Coliseum||Non-league game|
|9||May 12||at Georgia Doom||L 44–56||5–1||Macon Coliseum|
|10||May 19||East Carolina Torch||W 68–33||6–1||Richmond Coliseum|
|11||May 26||Jersey Flight||W 74–65||[a]||Richmond Coliseum||Non-league game|
|12||June 2||High Country Grizzlies||W 70–62||7–1||Richmond Coliseum|
|June 16||Carolina Energy||W 57–43||Richmond Coliseum||Semifinal|
|June 30||Atlanta Havoc||L 50–58||Richmond Coliseum||Championship game|
- As only eight league games can count for league standings, at the beginning of the season, AAL team owners chose which games they play against in-league opponents in excess of the eight games that do not count towards their overall league record.
2019 AAL seasonEdit
|1||March 23||Burgh Defenders||W 95–18||1–0||WesBanco Arena|
|3||April 6||at Cape Fear Heroes||W 54–15||2–0||Crown Coliseum|
|4||April 15||High Point Wildcats (EIF)||W 51–30||3–0||WesBanco Arena||Non-league game|
|5||April 19||at West Michigan Ironmen||W 33–28||4–0||L.C. Walker Arena|
|6||April 26||New England Bobcats||W 41–22||5–0||WesBanco Arena|
|7||May 4||Burgh Defenders||W 74–0||6–0||WesBanco Arena[b]|
|9||May 18||Jersey Flight||W 53–16||8–0||WesBanco Arena|
|10||May 27||New England Cavalry (NEAL)||W 28–24||9–0||WesBanco Arena||Non-league game|
|11||May 31||Carolina Cowboyz||W 54–0||10–0||WesBanco Arena|
|June 8||Jersey Flight||W 57–13||WesBanco Arena||Division playoff game|
|June 15||West Michigan Ironmen||W 45–6||WesBanco Arena||Semifinal playoff game|
|June 29||Carolina Energy||W 55–29||WesBanco Arena||Championship game|
- The AAL counted all games played by member teams, including games against non-league members, in the league standings for the 2019 season.
- Originally scheduled as a Defenders home game.
- Bobcats folded May 7.
- Reapers folded.
- "'It was a total honor': Richmond Roughriders find new home in West Virginia". WRIC-TV. September 24, 2018.
- "Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report". OurSports Central. October 31, 2016.
- "Roughriders Clinch Arena Pro Football Title on Last Play". Richmond Roughriders. June 21, 2017.
- Stephen Ur (June 20, 2017). "American Arena League Announces First 10 Teams". InsideTheArena.org.
- "Richmond Roughriders mulling over next move after perfect first year". Developmental Football USA. June 20, 2017.
- "NAL Announces Teams for 2018 Play - Northeast Bolstered by Expansion". NAL. July 20, 2017.
- Brandon Russell (July 21, 2017). "Richmond Roughriders officially announce NAL Expansion". Last Word On Sports.
- "American Arena League Adds Third Championship Team". American Arena League. September 13, 2017.
- "Jim Jones Now Part Owner of AAL's Richmond Roughriders". American Arena League. December 7, 2017.
- "Rapper Jim Jones to Kaepernick, Manziel: Join my arena football team". New York Post. December 7, 2017.
- "Richmond Roughriders Announce the Signing of Former Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl Defensive Lineman Greg Hardy". American Arena League. January 26, 2018.
- "Richmond Roughriders sign former NFL Pro Bowler Greg Hardy". WTVR-TV. January 26, 2018.
- "WOODY: Roughriders decision to sign Greg Hardy completely inappropriate". Richmond Times-Dispatch. January 29, 2018.
- "Roughriders likely to leave Richmond; 'Our arena got taken away from us'". Richmond Times-Dispatch. July 19, 2018.
- Mark Davis (July 18, 2018). "Roughriders plan to leave Richmond". NBC12.com.
- "Northern Arena Football, a new league coming in 2019". ArenaFootballTalk.com. August 15, 2018.
- "Roughriders owner looking at Winston-Salem, will open new indoor football league". Richmond Times-Dispatch. August 9, 2018.
- "What to Watch For in 2019 Arena Football Season". InsideTheArena.com. August 29, 2018.
- "Roughriders Join Professional Arena Football". Facebook.com. August 30, 2018.
- "Professional Arena Football website". ProfessionalArenaFootball.com. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
- "Richmond Roughriders relocate to West Virginia". WWBT. September 24, 2018.
- "Roughriders Return to the American Arena League for 2019". West Virginia Roughriders. December 10, 2018.
- "West Virginia Roughriders Not to Return to AAL in 2020". Inside the Arena. August 2, 2019.
- "NAL Expands North, West Virginia to Join League in 2020". OurSports Central. October 24, 2019.