The Midwest Rampage, in its eighth season, is a minor league football squad based out of Carlisle, Iowa. The Rampage's origins actually began in Manson (IA) where a core group of veteran players—all from Webster City—decided after three seasons that their own town would be the perfect place to call home. Thus, in November of 2009, the team and organizations, Midwest Rampage, LLC, was officially formed. After hosting several tryouts for the upcoming 2010 season, the Rampage finalized their roster with 37 players. As well, Chris Hansen, a former Division III and NAIA coach, was named the very first Head Coach of the Rampage.
In their inaugural season, the Rampage were members of the World Football League (WFL) whose teams ranged in location from Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri all the way to Oklahoma, Texas, and Tennessee. For their first-ever game—a home contest against the Nebraska Wildcats that took place on May 1—468 people came to witness history and despite committing seven (7) turnovers, the Rampage barely lost in a 22-15 thriller that literally came down to the last play of the game.
In all, over 1,600 total fans attended the team’s five 2010 home games and spectators bore witness to many fantastic moments such as a 20-18 come-from-behind win on May 22 versus the Capital City Crush as well as a dominating 33-6 performance over the Quad City Stallions on June 26—a team the Rampage narrowly defeated earlier in the season, 8-2. While the Rampage finished 3-6 and failed to make the WFL playoffs, it's noteworthy to mention that three of their six losses were by 15 total points. Furthermore, despite their overall record, league coaches recognized the play of the Rampage as a total of 9 players earned All-WFL honors.
During the first three years of their existence, the Rampage participated in various community or charitable events such as the Relay For Life Cancer Fundraising event in which they annually had a dunk tank and all proceeds went to the event. As well, the Rampage also partook in the town of Williams’ Fourth of July parade while also appearing in the Hamilton County Fair Parade. Finally, the team annually held a Toy Drive every Christmas to benefit local youth.
For the 2011 season, the Rampage, partnered with the Des Moines Blaze to form the Midwest Football Alliance (MFA) which, prior to the season, attracted a total of 10 teams from Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota. As fate would have it, the Rampage—whose 2011 roster swelled to 45 and had notable additions such as former NAFL Kicker of the Year Chuck Tack from Omaha, NE—ended up reaching inaugural MFA Championship game against the Blaze; although the Rampage fell, 42-10, they did finish 7-4 while landing 12 players on either the 1st or 2nd All-MFA squad.
"In 2012, the Rampage returned the majority of their starters and team but had a new head coach in former defensive coordinator Marty Hart after Chris Hansen retired due to family obligations. After opening up the 2012 campaign with an impressive 14-7 victory over the Minnesota Spartans, the Rampage experienced several key injuries, along with player attrition, that took its toll and factored into the team’s eventually 6-5 finish and their narrow miss of qualifying for the MFA playoffs. Despite the up-and-down 2012 season, the Rampage still had several impressive victories such as 64-0 drubbing of the River City Warriors and a 17-0 blanking of the Pella Knights at their last home game of the season. In all, 5 Rampage players earned either 1st or 2nd All-MFA post-season honors. In the Fall of 2012, the Midwest Rampage Board of Directors officially decided to cease all team operations and officially shut down Midwest Rampage, LLC, due to the fact that—at the time—it seemed the best thing to do for the squad and its legacy. Such that, it seemed that the essence of the Midwest Rampage was over.
However, for Rampage founding father member John Elkin, there was always a plan to bring back the team especially after a core of former players committed to returning to the squad as a result of playing in an exhibition game in conjunction with another squad versus the North Iowa Knights (Pomeroy, IA) in which Rampage players played a dominant role in the 25-6 victory.
Citing the 2013 season as a Sabbatical Season, the Rampage began its rebirth in the fall of 2013 as Midwest Rampage, Inc., was formed. A few months later in January of 2014, the Rampage officially joined the Southern Plains Football League (SPFL), a nine-man alliance based primarily out of southern Minnesota while also finalizing their roster of nearly 30 players.
In 2014, the Rampage—inspired by the fact that they had been informed that as a first-year team in the SPFL not expect to win more than two or three games—decided, as always, to follow their own lead and raced out to a 4-0 start—the first in team history! This milestone was coupled with the unique fact that three different quarterbacks started for the Rampage during that time span.
By the end of the season, the Rampage had outscored their opponents 351-165 while not only virtually rewriting the entire offense and defense record books, but also went 8-3 while advancing to the Semifinal game. The ’14 Rampage season had many highlights including being nationally ranked as high as #5 while beating the then-undefeated and #2 ranked Southwest Huskerz who eventually won the 2014 SPFL Championship. Other highlights include a 51-6 beat down of the Steele County Warriors in the 1st Round of the Playoffs while going 6-0 at home for the second time in four seasons. Simply put, the 2014 season was indeed "A New Breed" for the Black & Orange.
For the 2015 season, the Rampage were picked as a top-favorite to win the SPFL while adding quarterback Ben Jass as a member to the Board of Directors. To start the season, the squad again raced out to a 4-0 start and the eventual #2 seed for the playoffs with a 6-1 regular season record; the Rampage also again advanced to the Semifinals before losing to the South Central Hawgs, 21-18, a team they had defeated 3 weeks earlier, 23-20. The 2015 Rampage ended the season 7-2 and although extremely successful, fell short of the team goal to win the SPFL. However, since joining the SPFL, the Rampage were proud owners of such accomplishment as going 15-5 as well being the only team to beat every team in the SPFL over that time span which included victories over the two-time SPFL champions Southwest Huskerz (now folded) and the South Central Hawgs. The 2016 season saw much change for the Rampage. First, after spending the previous five years in Webster City, Elkin moved the team to Carlisle, Iowa (where he moved to in ’14) and several key players, due to a variety of reasons, decided to hang up the cleats. Nonetheless, a total of 19 core players returned including virtually the entire defensive unit along with a new group of players. The Rampage opened up the ’16 season at home by steamrolling the Southeast Minnesota Warhawks, 42-0, but then took the hard road back to the Semifinals after a challenging regular season that saw them finish 3-5; this included several key injuries and four close defeats—two alone to the North Iowa Bucks (Rockwell, IA) 14-6 and 20-14 in Overtime.
For the 1st Round of the playoffs, the #6 seed Rampage traveled to Rochester, MN, to take on the #3 seed and 7-1 Med City Freeze who had beaten the Rampage twice during the season: 27-10 in Carlisle—a game in which the Rampage led 10-0 at the end of the 3rd quarter—and 32-14 on the road. For their third meeting of the season, the Rampage trailed 6-3 at halftime and then fell behind 18-3 by the end of the 3rd quarter. Yet, the defense and special teams sparked a come-from-behind victory as the Rampage scored 25 unanswered points the last 14 minutes of the game to win 28-18. They then faced the #1 and 10-0 Buffalo Ridge Wildcats in the Semifinals and eventually lost, 28-17, after the Wildcats pulled away from a narrow 21-17 lead late in the 4th quarter.
Three seasons in the SPFL led to three consecutive Semifinal appearances while compiling a record of 20-11. However, the game versus the Wildcats would not be the last one of ’16 as the Rampage played in the SPFL’s (now resumed) annual Winter Pigskin Classic event in which all SPLF teams play one game in US Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings. The Rampage were paired against the ’16 SPLF and NNC National Champions the South Central Hawgs in the headliner game.
The Rampage-Hawgs pairing was based on the sole fact of having a competitive game as aside from the Hawgs' 35-6 victory in ‘16, the previous four meetings between the two teams were all decided by 10 or less points and include South Central victories in ‘14 of 10-7 and 24-14 (Semifinals) while in ‘15 the teams split triumphs as the Rampage won their first meeting, 23-20 but then lost in the Semifinals 21-18.
Prior to the game the SPFL Commissioner said, “Everyone is expecting this to be a great game for many reasons, not only because they are the only two teams to advance to the Semifinals the past three seasons, but they both are successful organizations; while the Hawgs can call themselves the defending champions, the Rampage can claim to be the only SPFL team to beat every other team the past 3 seasons. It’s going to be epic.”
That statement turned out to be true in every sense and while the Hawgs were led by former Minnesota State Jon Wolf—who prior to the game signed a contract with the indoor team the Arizona Rattler—the Rampage reloaded on its roster with many former players rejoining the team and/or coming out of retirement. The Rampage took an early 6-0 that eventually became a 12-6 advantage at halftime and while the 2nd half witnessed four more lead changes with the Hawgs leading, 19-18, with less than three minutes in the game, the Rampage became true champions by scoring a final touchdown with only :14 seconds on the clock to win the game, 24-19.
Overall, while the upcoming 2017 season looks to be special, the main goal of the Midwest Rampage is to always strive for excellence in all areas while providing fans, supporters, and patrons with hard-hitting, competitive, and family-oriented football. Furthermore, the squad aims to give men ages 18-45 a positive outlet as they revisit the gridiron of America’s favorite sport. Simply put... Welcome to Rampage Country!
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