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The Associated Press

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The owners of the Casper Cavalry announced that the team will play as a National Indoor Football League franchise this season.

Friday’s press conference at the Casper Events Center solidified the future of the team, the rights to which were sold in October to a group representing arenafootball2.

The Cavalry played in the Indoor Football League last year and was a successful franchise. Several IFL teams were part of the arenafootball2 buyout.

After the sale, Casper Leisure Services Director Max Torbert helped set up a coalition of former IFL teams in the West. The goal was to maintain regional rivalries.

Several leagues were considered before the group settled on the NIFL.

Casper businessman Brian Fleisher is now the managing partner/general manager of an ownership group that includes the city, Clear Channel Radio and several local businessmen.

Fleisher said much remains to be done to prepare for the first game, which is scheduled for March 31 in Kearney, Neb. He asked for understanding from fans.

“This has been like herding cats,” he said. “It’s been a long process.”

Besides Kearney, Casper will join teams in Billings, Mont.; Rapid City, S.D.; and Sioux Falls, S.D.; in the new league’s Central Division.

One aspect of the deal is the Central Division teams will incorporate and contract with the NIFL as a league this season. The agreement formalizes the coalition and ensures fans that they will have indoor football for several seasons, according to Fleisher.

“Technically, Casper Professional Football, Inc., is not part of the NIFL, it’s part of this league,” he said. “That way if anything goes sideways with (NIFL), we’re still together and we can play football.”

Former Casper coach Chris Stein will return as director of football operations, while former offensive coordinator Eric Sulutovich will take over as head coach.

Stein has re-signed several players from last season, including Bear Bagley, Kuma Hatten, Court Lutgen, Tony Biggio and Fou Mamea on defense.

Returning offensive players include running back Anthony Simmons, fullback Aldwin Lance, receivers Duane Molux and Cory Brooks and kicker Scott Doyle.

The team still lacks a quarterback after apparently losing Richard Fuentes to Memphis of af2.

The NIFL game differs slightly from the IFL. The goal posts are 10 feet wide and 10 feet above the turf, compared to 8 feet wide and 15 feet high in the IFL.

Field goals inside the 25-yard line, however, will be worth only two points.

Because the new league is affiliated with the Canadian Football League, a rogue (one point) will be awarded if a kick returner is tackled in his own end zone.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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