WEBSTER CITY - The Midwest Rampage hung its hat on the defensive side of the ball throughout its inaugural season this summer, which is why members of that unit were rewarded so nicely with postseason accolades recently.
Four Rampage defensive players - defensive end Jared Bell, defensive tackle Brian Miller, linebacker John Elkin and defensive back Andy Sowle - were named to the all-World Football League first team.
Players were nominated for postseason honors and voted on by the league coaches. The head coaches were not allowed to nominate or vote for their own players.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Midwest Rampage defensive back Andy Sowle, above waiting to take the field before the team’s opening game in May, was one of four defensive players named to the all-World Football League first-team, it was announced recently. The Rampage went 3-6 in its first season.
The Oklahoma Thunder, a World Bowl finalist and the two-time defending champion, led the first and second teams with a total of 15 players honored. The Des Moines Blaze, who will face off against the Thunder for the title this weekend in Tulsa, Okla., and the Rampage were both second with nine.
Rampage running backs Jake Thoma and Dan Schaa, offensive tackles Caleb Schweiger and Travis Schutt, and defensive back Dirk Timm were all second-team members.
Led by Elkin's 94 tackles, the Rampage (3-6 in 2010) allowed a meager 94 rushing yards and 90 passing yards per game. At 39 years of age, Elkin was the oldest member of either the first- or second-team.
"(Elkin was) a leader by example on and off the field with performance and preparation," Rampage head coach Chris Hansen said. "There are certainly a lot of players that work hard, but none work harder than Elkin and it showed in his production."
Sowle was second on the team in tackles with 68. He also picked off two passes and forced two fumbles.
Bell collected 47 tackles, highlighted by five sacks, coming from the outside and Miller recorded 41 tackles and six sacks.
Timm piled up 39 tackles at one corner position, and he also had three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He returned one of the INTs 29 yards for a touchdown.
"Few defensive players and especially (defensive backs) ever make you go 'wow,' but Dirk could," Hansen said. "He hits like a linebacker, but can handle any coverage assignment handed to him."
Thoma and Schaa accounted for 1,054 of the Rampage 1,290 rushing yards. Thoma chewed up 717 yards and reached the end zone twice; Schaa added 337 yards and three scores.
Schaa also completed 13 passes for 332 yards and three TDs after moving to quarterback midway through the season.
Schaa was also named the offensive most valuable player at the team's awards banquet. Elkin picked up the defensive MVP honor, while Kevin Kannuan (offense) and Timm (defense) were named the rookies of the year.