Students looking for excitement on the weekends may find it with the Abilene Ruff Riders, Abilene’s professional indoor football team.
The Ruff Riders started as the Katy Ruff Riders in 2007 as an expansion team for the Intense Football League, noted for giving Alaska its first professional football team, the Alaska Wild. The IFL is a Texas-based indoor football league that began in 2004. After the 2008 IFL season, the Ruff Riders saddled up, moved to the Taylor County Expo Center and joined the Southern Indoor Football League.
The Ruff Riders current record stands at 4-3 after beating the North Texas Crunch 88-41 in The Colony.
Indoor football is different from regular football. The style of play is focused on passing rather than running, leading to higher scores than the NFL or other regular football styles. Indoor fields are only 50 yards long, with goal posts that are only nine feet wide. Indoor football also lacks an out-of-bounds area. Instead, a padded wall lines the field. A player is only out of bounds if he gets knocked over the padded wall.
“It’s kind of like basketball played as a football game. The goal is to be entertained,” said Brett Quigley, Ruff Riders general manager. “If you like to see points on the board, you’ll love Ruff Rider Games.”
Indoor players are considered professionals. The Ruff Riders boast players from colleges all over the country, including the universities of West Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico, Central Florida, Buffalo and Tarleton State. Five Ruff Riders are ACU alumni, according to the Ruff Rider website.
“Most people think [the players] are just ex-high school players,” Quigley said. “Fans are going to see better football than they expect; our guys went to big schools.”
In March 2009, the Ruff Riders signed Quincy Carter, former second-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2001. Carter later was released from the team after not showing up to a game.
Tickets to Ruff Rider games can be purchased at abileneruffriders.com. College students pay $5 with their student discount. Five more games are scheduled for the regular season with only one more home game. The last home game is May 21 against the Louisiana Swashbucklers.
“We hope our team is a winning, community-involved team,” Quigley said. “Abilenians like to win; that’s what we expect.”