IFL Spotlight: Northern Arizona Wranglers
By: Adam Pasquale Jr.
January 22, 2021
We wrap up the Massachusetts Pirates IFL Spotlight with the Northern Arizona Wranglers. Based in Prescott Valley, Arizona, the Wranglers are one of three IFL teams in the state, along with the Tuscon Sugar Skulls and the Arizona Rattlers. In August 2020, just five days after the Pirates were added to the IFL, the Wranglers were introduced as the league’s newest expansion team. This season will be the organization’s inaugural season.
From the looks of it, the Wranglers will start off their first year with intriguing competition at the quarterback position. Gunslingers Vernon Reed, Derrick Bernard, and Caleb Holbrook have all been signed for the 2021 season.
Reed, a product of Ohio State University, took the IFL by storm in 2017 as a member of the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles, who were a former IFL organization. As a rookie, Reed completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,734 yards and 54 touchdowns. He was also the league’s leading rusher that season, adding 759 yards and 16 scores on the ground. These statistics were enough for Reed to be crowned the IFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2017.
Bernard also comes to the Wranglers with IFL experience. He has spent time with the Nebraska Danger, another former IFL organization, and two current IFL organization’s that have elected not to play this season: San Diego Strike Force and Cedar Rapids River Kings. Holbrook appeared in three games at quarterback for the Arizona Rattlers in 2019 and threw three touchdown passes.
The Wranglers also made a splash on the defensive line this off-season, signing former NFL veteran player Cam Thomas, who suited up in 103 career NFL games from 2010-2017.
In regards to who will be coaching the team, the Wranglers named Dominic Bramante head coach in September 2020. He comes to Prescott Valley with many years of professional indoor football coaching experience, including two championships with the Duke City Gladiators, when they were members of Champions Indoor Football in 2018 and 2019.
The Wranglers fall under the ownership of Trey Medlock, who owns several other professional sports franchises. When asked about his decision to purchase the Wranglers, Medlock told masspiratesfootball.com that it was a business decision.
“The IFL model made sense. I was looking for the best location and I found that in Prescott Valley. Both the city and the arena are the right size. With two other IFL teams in the state, one in New Mexico and another in Texas, the travel factor made sense as well. This was the right market.”
When asked about the decision of naming Bramante the first head coach in Wranglers history, Medlock said three things about Bramante stood out.
“He (Bramante) brings a dynamic personality to the game. He’s also a proven winner and has good character.”
Ironically enough, one of the professional sports teams Medlock owned in the past was the Rio Valley Grande Dorados, a former AF2 organization. In 2005, Medlock hired current Arizona Rattlers head coach Kevin Guy to coach the Dorados.
“Kevin and I have had a relationship for the past 15 or 16 years. He’s a good friend. Kevin has proven that indoor football works in Arizona with the Rattlers success.”
The story behind the Wranglers team name is an interesting one. The organization chose their team name by way of a naming contest through a local newspaper in Prescott Valley. The final candidates were the Wranglers and the Hot Shots, but the Wranglers were chosen. The organization felt the team name ‘Wranglers’ best fit the community’s interest from a marketing standpoint.
Pirates President and General Manager Jawad Yatim believes Northern Arizona has all the pieces to find success in the organization’s inaugural season.
“They have an established ownership group and a market that seems excited to have them there. They have an experienced coaching staff as well and some good players on their roster. It’ll be exciting to go out there and compete against them and we wish them all the best, except for when we play them of course.”
The Pirates will go head-to-head with the Wranglers in Week 7 of the 2021 IFL season. The game will take place in Prescott Valley, Arizona at the Findlay Toyota Center on May 16, 2021.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single-game tickets will be available soon at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard