Florida Firecats



Years of Existence: 2001-2009
Venue: Germain Arena (Ft. Myers, FL)
Accomplishments:
2001 -
2002 Championship game appearance
2003 Playoff appearance
2004 AF2 Champions
2005 Southern Division champions, semifinal appearance
2006 - Southern Division champions, semifinal appearance
2007 - Southern Division champions, playoff appearance
2008 - Playoff appearance
2009 -
Lifetime Record: 100-59
Home: 51-28
Away: 49-31
Playoffs: 9-6
Average Attendance: 4,882

The Florida Firecats are one of the most successful franchises in the AF2. Their first season would be their only losing one. The very next year, the team finished at a mere 9-7, but was able to run the table in the postseason to win three games on the road against Tallahassee, Macon, and Cape Fear. They would lose the Championship game on the road at Peoria. In the following season, the Macon Knights would oust the Firecats in the first round. 2004 was a championship year for the Cats, as they finished the regular season at 10-6 and entered the playoffs. There, they won their first home game against Memphis, 35-33 and then upset the Tennessee Valley Vipers in Alabama, 62-58. They became American Conference Champions when they went North for another upset victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers, 41-31. In a rematch of the 2002 Arena Cup game, the Florida Firecats beat the Peoria Pirates 39-26 to win the 2004 Arena Cup game and become champions of the league. The Firecats looked for a repeat in 2005, winning fourteen of their sixteen regular season matches, a franchise best. The Firecats' average margin of victory was less than ten points per game. In the final three games of the season, Florida won 48-47(OT) against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 48-47 at Green Bay, and 28-27 at Birmingham. After earning a bye week in the first round of the postseason, the Firecats ended the Pioneers' season for the second straight year. However, Florida's bid for back-to-back Championships came up well short against the Louisville Fire, 70-40. The Florida defense allowed a playoff record 10 passing touchdowns in a playoff game. The storied Firecats history continued its cxcitement in 2006, as the Firecats did their usual crusing through the regular season. After losing the season openner to Memphis, 78-46, the Firecats won five straight and went on to a 13-3 regular season. The postseason brought opportunities for revenge. After losing in Manchester, 79-62, the Firecats won a tight contest at home to knock the Wolves out of the playoffs. Then, Green Bay came to Fort Meyers for a rematch of a July 1st game that saw the Blizzard win on a missed Firecat two point conversion. This time, however, Green Bay got a more convincing 60-47 victory. The Firecats got off to a shaky start in 2007, beginning with a 4-3 record. The Firecats would lose for the first time ever to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. However, with the veteran experience of quarterback Chris Wallace and receivers Magic Benton, Ethenic Sands, and Chris McKinney, the team strung together six consecutive wins. The Firecats finished a game ahead of the South Georgia Wildcats to clinch yet another division title. However, Florida would play South Georgia in a first round game in Fort Myers. The Wildcats beat the Firecats twice during the season and the third time would not be the charm for Florida, as the Wildcats took a 59-50 victory. The Firecats of 2008 returned many of their star players, including quarterback Chris Wallace and wide receivers Magic Benton and Ethenic Sands. The Firecats got out to an 8-1 start, and it looked like they were poised for another deep playoff run. However, four of the next five games would be on the road, and it crippled the team. The regular season ended with a 10-6 record, making the Firecats the fifth seed in the postseason and giving them another game against Tennessee Valley. Two weeks earlier, the Vipers crushed the anemic Firecats offense, 58-28. This rematch was much of the same, as the Firecats were held to just thirteen second half points. The Vipers advanced with a 48-33 victory. The Firecats opened the 2009 season with many of the star players back, including Magic Benton, James Panui, Brent Burnside, and Chris Wallace. However, age seemed to be getting to them, as the team went 7-9 on the year and was outscored by about 70 points in the fourth quarter. Three wins came against Southern division opponents. Despite finishing as the seven seed in the playoffs, the Firecats became the first playoff team to be excluded from the playoff bracket, due to $200,000 in dues not being paid to the league. Manchester moved up to the seven seed and Albany replaced the Firecats in the postseason. The team folded following this incident.