Erie Explosion
Established 2007
Folded 2015
Played in Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pennsylvania
League/conference affiliations
American Indoor Football Association (2007–2010)
  • Northern Division (2007)
  • Eastern Conference (2008)
    • North Division (2008–2009)
  • Eastern Division (2010)

Southern Indoor Football League (2011)

  • Eastern Conference (2011)
    • Northeast Division (2011)

Ultimate Indoor Football League (2012)

  • Northern Conference (2012)

Continental Indoor Football League (2013–2014)

  • North Division (2014)
Professional Indoor Football League (2015)
Team colorsBlack, Orange, White
Owner(s)Bill Stafford
General managerShawn Liotta
Head coachShawn Liotta (2007–2008, 2010–2015)
Steven G. Fulmar (2009)
Team history
  • Pittsburgh RiverRats (2007)
  • Erie RiverRats (2008–2009)
  • Erie Storm (2010)
  • Erie Explosion (2011–2015)
League championships (2)
Conference championships (0)
Division championships (2)
  • 2011, 2013
Playoff appearances (7)
  • AIFA: 2007, 2008, 2010
    SIFL: 2011
    UIFL: 2012
    CIFL: 2013, 2014
Home arena(s)

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.

Franchise history


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.[1]

The RiverRats played their first game at Tupelo, Mississippi on February 3, 2007, losing 54-34 to the Mississippi Mudcats.[2] 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.[3]

2008: Moving to Erie

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.[4] They replaced the city's previous AIFA team, the Erie Freeze.[5]

2009: Loss of Liotta

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.[6] In September 2008, the RiverRats named Steven G. Folmar as the franchise's second head coach.[7] In December 2008, owner Jeff Hauser sold the team to a group of local businessmen, headed by Jeff Plyler, Bob Foltyn and Frank Herman.[8][9] The RiverRats had to replace many players on the roster, as most of the 2008 roster followed Liotta to Wheeling.[10] 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.[11] After dropping to 0–7, the RiverRats got their first win of the season on a last second field goal by Joe Lindway.[12] The RiverRats ended up finishing with a 3-11 record, and missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.[13]


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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18] In July 2010, they dropped "Storm" in favor of "Erie Professional Football", which remains the name of the team's corporate entity.

2011: SIFL

Main article: 2011 Erie Explosion season

The Tullio Arena scoreboard following the Explosion's record-setting game from 2011.
The Tullio Arena scoreboard following the Explosion's record-setting game from 2011.

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.[19]

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.[20] 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.[21] Despite the playoff loss, DiMichele was named SIFL MVP, finishing the season with 91 touchdown passes.[22]

2012: UIFL

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.[23] (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.[24] The job fell on the shoulders of rookie Colton Hansen.[24] In the second game of the season, Hansen struggled in a loss to the Johnstown Generals, and he was replaced by A. J. McKenna.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28]

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.[29]

2013: CIFL and Championship

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).[30] Liotta needed to replace McKenna, who had left Erie for the Saginaw Sting (also of the CIFL).[31] Liotta chose rookie Aaron Smetanka to lead the Explosion offense, and he did not disappoint.[32] 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.[33] 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.[34] 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.[35]

2014: Back-to-back champions

Main article: 2014 Erie Explosion season

In June, 2013, the Explosion agreed to terms with the CIFL to return for the 2014 season.[36] The team eventually won a second straight championship over the Marion Blue Racers.

2015: PIFL

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).[37] 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.

2016: Suspension of operations

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.[38] 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.[39] 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.[40] 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.


Final roster

Erie Explosion roster

Running backs

  • 99 Bob Hammer
  • 13 Richard Stokes

Wide receivers

Offensive linemen
  • 78 Henry Conway
  • 52 Byron Dovales
  • 75 Jeremiah Fennell
  • 78 Oscar Gonzalez
  • 50 Tyler Worthley

Defensive linemen

  • -- Serge Augustin
  •  2 Tim Green
  • 11 DaJuan Smith
  • -- Zach Williams
  • 31 Maurice Gibbs

Defensive backs

  •  7 Brian Darden
  • 21 Aunre' Davis
  •  9 Johnnie Taylor
  • 20 DeQwan Young


  • -- Michael Georgetti
  • 14 Shon Rowser
Injured reserve
  • 12 Greg Betterson WR
  • -- Marcus Fowler OL
  • 31 Marcus Green LB
  • 75 LaRoi Johnson OL
  • 43 Phil Lewis DL
  •  1 Jayson Nickson DB
  •  3 Jeff Sinclair QB

Exempt list

Failure to report

  • -- Dana Brown DL
  • -- Andrew Mathis DL
  • -- Brandon McElwee LB
  • Rookies in italics
  • Roster updated June 14, 2015
  • 28 Active, 11 Inactive

Awards and honors

The following is a list of all Pittsburgh/Erie players who won league awards

Season Player Position Award
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


Head coaches

Name Term Regular season Playoffs Awards
W L T Win% W L
Shawn Liotta 20072008
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

Coaching staff

Erie Explosion staff
Front Office
  • Director of Operations – Bill Stafford
  • Director of Game Day Operations – Katie De Pew
  • Head Coach/Director of Football Operations – Shawn Liotta

Head coach

Offensive coaches


Defensive Coaches

  • Defensive Coordinator/Player Personnel – Jeremy Liotta
  • Defensive Backs – Sam Reynolds
  • Defensive Line Coach- Al MaCauley
  • Assistant Coach- Kirk Rearick

Special Teams Coaches

  • Special Teams Coordinator – Ed Marin


League Champions Conference Champions Division Champions Wild Card Berth League Leader
Season Team League Conference Division Regular season Postseason results
Finish Wins Losses Ties
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
2009 2009 AIFA North 5th 3 11 0
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
2015 2015 PIFL 7th 2 9 0
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)


  1. ^ Phil Axelrod (August 5, 2006). "River Rats to debut in American Indoor Football League in 2007, will play in Rostraver". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  2. ^ "RiverRats Fall to Mississippi in Season Opener". OurSports Central. February 7, 2007. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  3. ^ Jeff Oliver (May 21, 2007). "RiverRats score 86 to reach AIFA playoffs". Trib Total Media, Inc. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  4. ^ "Pittsburgh RiverRats Relocate to Erie, PA". OurSports Central. January 8, 2008. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
  5. ^ Bob Jarzomski (January 9, 2008). "Indoor football is back". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  6. ^ "Liotta resigns as RiverRats coach". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. August 5, 2008. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  7. ^ "Erie RiverRats Name Steven G. Folmar as New Head Coach". OurSports Central. September 2, 2008. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  8. ^ "Area group purchases RiverRats". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. December 11, 2008. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  9. ^ "Erie RiverRats Sold to Local Business Group". OurSports Central. December 16, 2008. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  10. ^ "Wheeling Wildcats Sign QB Rod Rutherford for 2009 Season". OurSports Central. December 12, 2008. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  11. ^ "Struggling RiverRats seek new offensive coordinator". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. April 9, 2009. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  12. ^ Bob Jarzomski (May 11, 2009). "RiverRats kick winless label at buzzer". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  13. ^ "Erie Ends 2009 Season With 60-20 Blowout of Defending Champs". OurSports Central. June 29, 2009. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  14. ^ "Liotta returns to coach RiverRats". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. September 8, 2009. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  15. ^ "Professional Football Continues in Erie Under New Ownership". OurSports Central. December 29, 2009. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  16. ^ "Indoor football a go in Erie for 2010". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. December 29, 2009. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  17. ^ "New Erie football nickname: Storm". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. January 14, 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  18. ^ Victor Fernandes (May 7, 2010). "Lake Erie College sues Storm over nickname". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  19. ^ "Erie's indoor football now in SIFL". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. November 16, 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  20. ^ Duane Rankin (May 22, 2011). "Erie Explosion set record in 138-0 win". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  21. ^ Duane Rankin (June 23, 2011). "Erie Explosion's record season ended in disappointment". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  22. ^ "Erie Explosion QB named indoor league MVP". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. July 9, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  23. ^ "Erie Explosion joins new league". Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. August 27, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  24. ^ a b John Dudley (March 1, 2012). "Erie Explosion count on new QB to lead way". Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  25. ^ Bob Jarzomski (April 1, 2012). "Debut dynamite for Erie Explosion QB McKenna". Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  26. ^ "Explosion stumble, lose top seed in playoffs". Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. June 11, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  27. ^ "Erie Explosion to play indoor football playoff game outdoors". Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. June 12, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  28. ^ Bob Jarzomski (June 17, 2012). "Explosion erupt in 4th to top Blue Racers in UIFL playoff game". Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  29. ^ "Explosion fall in UIFL playoffs". Cyberlink and Erie Times-News. June 24, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  30. ^ Bob Jarzomski (August 31, 2012). "Erie Explosion join new indoor football league". Erie Times-News. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
  31. ^ Bob Jarzomski (February 2, 2013). "In new league, Explosion ready to open training camp". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  32. ^ "Rookie QB leads Explosion to win in season opener". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. February 18, 2013. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  33. ^ Bob Jarzomski (May 3, 2013). "Stokes makes big impact with Explosion". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  34. ^ Bob Jarzomski (May 6, 2013). "Erie Explosion advance to CIFL title game". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  35. ^ Bob Jarzomski (May 13, 2013). "Explosion nips Sting for CIFL title". CyberInk LP and the Erie Times-News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  36. ^ Cory Butzin (June 10, 2013). "Continental Indoor Football League agree to terms with five teams for next season". MLive Media Group. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  37. ^ "Erie Explosion Joins PIFL". OurSports Central. October 13, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  38. ^ "Supreme Indoor Football and Continental Indoor Football League Join Forces". OurSportsCentral. August 23, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  39. ^ "Erie Explosion Suspend 2016 Football Operations". Our Sports Central. January 18, 2016.
  40. ^ Adams, Lisa (January 18, 2016). "Erie Explosion Suspends Operations for 2016". WICU-TV. Retrieved January 19, 2016.