Kizer Returns to Lead IFL’s Top Defense – Presented by Phoenix Communications, Inc.

By: Mick Moninghoff
Pirates Writer
November 12, 2021

WORCESTER, MA – After helping to lead the Massachusetts Pirates to an Indoor Football League Championship, Rayshaun Kizer is returning to the team for a run at a second straight title. Kizer, the Assistant Head Coach to Patrick Pass, will be back as the Defensive Coordinator and Secondary Coach.

Pirates President and General Manager Jawad Yatim was impressed with what Kizer brought to the organization during the championship run.

“Rayshaun did a great job last year leading a defensive unit that finished #1 in the league. He has a lot of energy, enthusiasm and is a great communicator. Our guys respond well to his coaching and we’re glad to have him back,” Yatim said.

In just his second season of coaching and first with the Pirates, Kizer, a former five-time All-Arena League DB, built the IFL’s best defense that over 17 games allowed a league best 31.6 points per game. During the Pirates playoff run that number dropped to just 25 points per contest. Five times the Pirates held opponents under 20 points in 2021.

The Pirates led the league in eight other defensive categories. Kizer’s defense gave up just 173.2 yards per game and 4.1 yards per play. Against the run Massachusetts yielded a league best 3.1 yards per carry. Against the pass, opponents completed an IFL low of 48.6 percent while gaining just 117.3 yards per game and 4.8 yards per reception. With a pair of picks in the victory over Arizona in the United Bowl, the Pirates equaled the mark of 19 interceptions held with Green Bay and Arizona. Overall, the Pirates defense had the number one efficiency rating at 107.2 and the best third down conversion rate at 31.9 percent.

Kizer, who as a player in 2011 set an Arena Football League single-season record with 16 interceptions while playing in Orlando, guided a secondary that produced an All-IFL First Team defensive back in Harlan Miller and a second team selection in Chucky Williams. They along with Khalid Wooten and Aarion Maxey Penton formed the top defensive backfield in the IFL. Ramirez was second in the league with 100 tackles. Wooten, Miller and Maxey-Penton were in the top ten in passes broken up and in passes defended. Maxey-Penton had seven interceptions and Miller notched six, placing them among the league leaders.

Not to be outdone, the defensive front and linebackers also enjoyed success as defensive lineman Toby Johnson was an All-IFL First Team choice while defensive lineman JD Griggs and linebacker Martrell Spaight were All-IFL Second Team selections. Johnson was fifth in the league with 3.5 sacks and tied for the league lead with three forced fumbles along with Ramirez. Williams recorded three fumble recoveries while Ramirez and Miller each had a pair. On the season, the defense caused 33 turnovers and finished second in the league with 22 sacks.

Kizer, who hails from Euclid, Ohio, played his college ball at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. He learned his craft as a professional signing as an undrafted free agent by the New York Jets in 2007. He went on to have two stints in the Canadian Football League and a stellar career in arena ball in the AF2 and AFL playing for several outstanding coaches including two currently in the IFL in Clint Dolezel of the Frisco Fighters and Cedric Walker who was recently hired by the Spokane Shock.

The 2021 United Bowl Champions; Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at Phoenix Field 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 contact@masspiratesfootball.com or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. For 2022 season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277) or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com/tickets. Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates.

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