Happy Birthday Pirates
By: Mick Moninghoff
November 15, 2021
WORCESTER, MA – Today Marks the fourth birthday of the Massachusetts Pirates. On November 15, 2017, Pirates Founder, Co-Owner, President and General Manager Jawad Yatim announced at a press conference that the Massachusetts Pirates would begin play the following Spring. The organization navigated uncharted waters and sailed on to Phoenix Field at the DCU Center, kicking off on April 7 of 2018.
In year one, the team burst on to the scene, taking the National Arena League by storm. The expansion franchise finished with the best record in the league with an 11-5 record. Highlights included winning game one, their home opener against the Maine Mammoths. An overtime victory over Maine and several walk-off wins kept the fans on the edge of their seats. At season’s end, Head Coach Ameer Ismail was named Coach of the Year and quarterback Sean Brackett was the league’s Most Valuable Player.
Year two showed the Pirates staying power. After a slow start, the team reeled off six straight wins and ultimately advanced to the semi-finals. Their turnaround was keyed by the signing of former NFL All-Pro Dexter McCluster and the play of wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, who set NAL single-season scoring records with 33 touchdowns (29 receiving and four rushing) and 198 points. Wideout Thomas Owens was the NAL Offensive Rookie of the Year. That season the Pirates were just as successful off the field, recognized by the league for its efforts in the Bay State, taking home the Community Relations award. The organization also established its foothold in the “Fourth Estate,” claiming the Best Media Relations award. On November 9, the team hired three-time Super Bowl Champion Patrick Pass as its new head coach.
In 2020 the team never took the field due to the pandemic, yet they still made waves as on August 19th at the DCU Center, Jawad Yatim announced that the Pirates were joining the Indoor Football League.
It’s hard to say that any organization is all grown up after just four years, but this year the Pirates proved they secured a seat at the table by winning the 2021 United Bowl over the Arizona Rattlers on September 12. Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield was the United Bowl MVP and wide receiver Thomas Owens finished the year with the most receptions (77) and was the only wideout with over 1,000 receiving yards (1,014). Owens was a unanimous All-IFL First Team offensive selection. Massachusetts proved it was not a fluke as it posted an overall record of 14-3 and ended the year on an 11-game winning streak which it will carry into the 2022 season.
The most recent “gift” the Pirates received was the Key to the City of Worcester during the September 21 team’s City Hall celebration. The organization thanks its fans for an exciting and fun filled four years as the words of Co-Owner Jawad Yatim still echo through the City Hall complex as he said, “You know where we’re from, so one isn’t enough. We want more. This is just the beginning. We want to keep bringing championships to Worcester. We want to keep bringing championships to Massachusetts because this is “title town,” this is the City of Champions, so we’re just glad to be a part of it.”
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 email@example.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.