Played in Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pennsylvania
|American Indoor Football Association (2007–2010)
Continental Indoor Football League (2013–2014)
|Team colors||Black, Orange, White|
|General manager||Shawn Liotta|
|Head coach||Shawn Liotta (2007–2008, 2010–2015)|
Steven G. Fulmar (2009)
|League championships (2)|
|Conference championships (0)|
|Division championships (2)|
|Playoff appearances (7)|
The Erie Explosion was a professional American indoor football team based in Erie, Pennsylvania. Founded in 2007 as the Pittsburgh RiverRats, the Explosion played in the Professional Indoor Football League, the United Indoor Football League, the Southern Indoor Football League, the Continental Indoor Football League and the American Indoor Football Association and operated continuously from 2007 to 2015.
Main article: 2007 Pittsburgh RiverRats season
The Explosion began play in 2007 as the Pittsburgh RiverRats at the Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania.
The RiverRats played their first game at Tupelo, Mississippi on February 3, 2007, losing 54-34 to the Mississippi Mudcats. Their first home game was on February 18, 2007 which they lost 35-28 to the Reading Express. Pittsburgh won its first home game on March 4, 2007, defeating the Danville Demolition 47-21. On May 19, 2007, the RiverRats set an AIFA single-game record when they scored 86 points.
Main article: 2008 Erie RiverRats season
On January 8, 2008 the RiverRats announced they would be relocating to Erie in time for the 2008 season, rebranding themselves as the Erie RiverRats. They replaced the city's previous AIFA team, the Erie Freeze.
Main article: 2009 Erie RiverRats season
In August, 2008, head coach Shawn Liotta resigned as coach of the RiverRats and left to coach the Wheeling Wildcats. In September 2008, the RiverRats named Steven G. Folmar as the franchise's second head coach. In December 2008, owner Jeff Hauser sold the team to a group of local businessmen, headed by Jeff Plyler, Bob Foltyn and Frank Herman. The RiverRats had to replace many players on the roster, as most of the 2008 roster followed Liotta to Wheeling. As a result of all the changes, the RiverRats struggled all season to score points, resulting in offensive coordinator Paul Pennington's resignation after an 0–3 start. After dropping to 0–7, the RiverRats got their first win of the season on a last second field goal by Joe Lindway. The RiverRats ended up finishing with a 3-11 record, and missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Main article: 2010 Erie Storm season
On September 8, 2009 the RiverRats announced that Liotta would return to Erie as the head coach for the 2010 season. In December, it was announced that owner Jeff Hauser had sold a stake in the franchise to a local group that included Jeff Plyler (owner of Plyler Overhead Door of McKean, Pennsylvania) and Bill Stafford (owner of several Subway restaurant locations in Erie), among others. The team remained in the AIFA, and the team adopted the corporate name "Erie Professional Football, Inc." in December 2009, in anticipation of a new franchise name to be announced in January 2010.
Hauser maintained a smaller stake in the team, which immediately dropped the RiverRats name. On January 5, 2010, the team announced the four finalists of the name-the-team contest; Storm, Blizzard, Pulse, and Punishers. On January 14, 2010 the team was officially named the Erie Storm via a press conference, in which the team logo and colors were also released.
On May 5, 2010, the Painesville, Ohio-based Lake Erie College sued the team over the "Erie Storm" name because their athletic teams use the "Storm" moniker. In July 2010, they dropped "Storm" in favor of "Erie Professional Football", which remains the name of the team's corporate entity.
Main article: 2011 Erie Explosion season
On December 3, 2010, the team announced its new Erie Explosion identity, albeit retaining the same color scheme as the Storm. The Explosion was also one of six AIFA teams which merged with the Southern Indoor Football League (SIFL) prior to the 2011 season.
On May 21, 2011, the Explosion set a single-game franchise record, including an indoor football record, for the most points scored in a 138-0 decisive win over the Fayetteville Force. This result was due to the Force's ownership change, with second-string players taking the field. This margin of victory is the third-highest in all of professional football, and the highest in over 100 years. Only the 1903 Massillon Tigers (who won a game 148-0) and the 1904 Watertown Red & Black club (who won a game 142-0) have had wider leads.
The Explosion finished the season with a 9–4 record, winning the Northeast Division, but were defeated 68–43 by the Albany Panthers in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the playoff loss, DiMichele was named SIFL MVP, finishing the season with 91 touchdown passes.
Main article: 2012 Erie Explosion season
On August 25, 2011, the Explosion left the SIFL and joined the United Indoor Football League. The change reunited Erie with Andrew Haines, who founded the city's previous indoor football team, the Erie Freeze. (The Explosion's departure came two weeks before the SIFL broke up into the Lone Star Football League and the Professional Indoor Football League, neither of which included Pennsylvania in its territory). Erie was tasked with replacing MVP quarterback DiMichele, who had signed with the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul. The job fell on the shoulders of rookie Colton Hansen. In the second game of the season, Hansen struggled in a loss to the Johnstown Generals, and he was replaced by A. J. McKenna. McKenna led the Explosion to an 8–3 regular-season record, losing the top seed in the UIFL North during the last game of the season. While still securing a home playoff game, the Tullio Arena had begun a 45-million-dollar renovation, which forced the Explosion to find a new place to host the game. The Explosion announced that they would play at Erie Cathedral Prep's Dollinger Field. The Explosion trailed going into the fourth quarter against the Marion Blue Racers, but McKenna ignited the Erie offense to 22 points in the final stanza to advance to the UIFL North Conference final.
The Explosion faced the Cincinnati Commandos, who had only lost two games all season, one of which was to Erie. The Commandos defeated the Explosion 62–40 to advance to the Ultimate Bowl.
Main article: 2013 Erie Explosion season
The Explosion left the UIFL after the 2012 season. The team remained idle for about a month, while fielding offers to join four different leagues. Owner Bill Stafford ultimately decided to join the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL). Liotta needed to replace McKenna, who had left Erie for the Saginaw Sting (also of the CIFL). Liotta chose rookie Aaron Smetanka to lead the Explosion offense, and he did not disappoint. The Explosion finished with an undefeated regular season record of 10-0 securing the 2013 CIFL regular season championship and the #1 seed in the leagues playoff format. The Explosion hosted the Kentucky Xtreme in a league Semi-Final game May 5, 2013. They defeated the Xtreme 55-6. The Explosion defense held the leagues number 1 offense to 1 first down in the first half. The Xtreme did not score until 13 minutes remained in the game. The defensive charge was led by Ricardo Kemp who had 2 interceptions in the game. The Erie Explosion hosted the CIFL championship game on Mothers Day, May 12, 2013, where they beat the Sting, 37-36, to win the 2013 CIFL Championship Game. The 2013 CIFL Championship is the Erie Explosion's first championship, as well as the city of Erie's first championship in any league of indoor football.
Main article: 2014 Erie Explosion season
In June, 2013, the Explosion agreed to terms with the CIFL to return for the 2014 season. The team eventually won a second straight championship over the Marion Blue Racers.
Main article: 2015 Erie Explosion season
With the partial collapse of the CIFL in the 2014 season and the exodus of several of its teams to X-League Indoor Football the following offseason, the Explosion were left without a league to play in. On October 13, 2014, the Explosion announced they would be joining the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL). The team experienced a reversal of fortune upon joining the PIFL, losing all but one of their league games in their first season in the league.
On August 23, 2015, the Explosion announced that they would rejoin the revived CIFL, which was to be a member of the Indoor Football Alliance. However, the league disbanded on November 4, leaving it uncertain where the Explosion would play in 2016; the Alliance announced it would continue as a six-team league in and of itself, with the Cape Fear Heroes, Explosion, Buffalo Lightning, Atlanta Sharks and two expansion teams playing in the circuit. On January 18, 2016, the Explosion announced they would not participate in a 2016 season, citing an inability to secure medical staff for the upcoming season. WICU-TV reported that the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine had pulled its sponsorship of the team after a high number of injuries in the 2015 season. With the suspension, 2016 was the first season since 2004 that no indoor football team played in Erie. Professional football has not returned to the city since.
Shawn Liotta went on to become a key figure in the development of Fan Controlled Football, along with his high school coaching.
|Erie Explosion roster|
Failure to report
The following is a list of all Pittsburgh/Erie players who won league awards
|2011||Adam DiMichele||QB||SIFL MVP|
|2011||Kevin Concepcion||WR||SIFL Offensive Player of the Year|
|2012||A. J. McKenna||QB||UIFL Offensive Player of the Year|
|2013||Kwaheem Smith||DB||CIFL Defensive Player of the Year|
|2014||Aaron Smentanka||QB||CIFL Offensive Player of the Year|
|62||34||0||.646||5||5||2012 UIFL North Coach of the Year|
2013 CIFL Coach of the Year
|Steven G. Fulmar||2009||3||11||0||.214||0||0|
|Erie Explosion staff|
Special Teams Coaches
|League Champions||Conference Champions||Division Champions||Wild Card Berth||League Leader|
|Season||Team||League||Conference||Division||Regular season||Postseason results|
|2007||2007||AIFA||Northern||4th||7||7||0||Lost Quarterfinals (Express) 24–32|
|2008||2008||AIFA||Eastern||North||2nd||10||4||0||Lost Divisional Playoffs (Express) 57–67|
|2010||2010||AIFA||Eastern||3rd||8||6||0||Lost Eastern Division Playoff (Stampede) 48–52|
|2011||2011||SIFL||Eastern||Northeast||1st||9||3||0||Lost Round 1 (Panthers) 43–68|
|2012||2012||UIFL||North||2nd||8||3||Won North Conference Quarterfinals (Blue Racers) 56–47|
Lost North Conference Championship (Commandos) 42–60
|2013||2013||CIFL||1st||10||0||Won Semifinals (Xtreme) 55–6|
Won CIFL Championship Game (Sting) 37–36
|2014||2014||CIFL||North||2nd||8||2||0||Won North Division Championship (Sting) 46–15|
Won CIFL Championship Game (Blue Racers) 38–26
|Totals||65||45||0||All-time regular season record (2007–2015)|
|5||5||-||All-time postseason record (2007–2015)|
|70||50||0||All-time regular season and postseason record (2007–2015)|