At the rate the Professional Indoor Football League is going, the Utah Catzz, who lost again Saturday afternoon, will probably make the playoffs by default. Heck, as long as they don't quit maybe they'll win it all.
Teams in the PIFL are dropping like flies at a Fourth of July picnic. The Colorado Wildcats franchise announced earlier this week it was ceasing operations and now the Texas Bullets, who are supposed to be the Catzz's upcoming opponent in two weeks, have decided to put their 1998 season to sleep as well.That would leave five teams in the PIFL and four playoff spots. And even though the Catzz fell 61-43 to the Green Bay Bombers on Saturday afternoon at the McKay Events Center before a crowd of 1,871, they have a great shot at qualifying for postseason play.
Catzz owner Michael Curran insists the team will be around for the remainder of the season, but the long-term future in uncertain.
It is likely the Catzz played their final game in Utah County as they hope to strike a deal with the E Center in West Valley City for the 1999 campaign.
"We sure have enjoyed our time here. People have treated us like gold," said Catzz offensive coordinator Lee Leslie about the fans and staff at the McKay Events Center. "We don't know what's going to happen. I think we'll be around next year."
So, for now, the Catzz (who own a 4-7 record, though that will change once the league figures out how forfeited games are taken into account) are going to enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts. Much of that ride to date has been bumpy, but that doesn't seem to matter much now.
"We just need to forget what's been negative and embarrassing and focus on winning," Leslie said.
The Catzz wanted to close out their home season with a bang. But in the first half they played like dud firecrackers. They trailed 38-7 at halftime.
Quarterback Joe Borich completed just one pass in the opening two quarters and threw a pair of interceptions to Green Bay's Sahl Shaheed (he finished with three picks on the day). And continuing a theme that has haunted the Catzz all season, Utah lost another player to injury when kicker Doug Beach went down with a broken leg while trying to make a tackle. Receiver Greg Hooks assumed the kicking duties in Beach's absence.
Still, the Catzz wound up making the game respectable, outscoring the Bombers 22-7 in the third quarter. They got as close as 45-37 early in the fourth when Borich connected with receiver Terrance Keehan for a 23-yard touchdown. After a field goal, interception No. 3 by Shaheed and another score, Green Bay led 54-37.
Keehan added another TD catch, making a leaping grab to bring the Catzz to within 54-43. But on the ensuing onside kick, Hooks booted it right into the arms of the Bombers' Chris Perry, who waltzed into the end zone for the game's final score.
Since Utah's regularly scheduled game against Texas has been canceled, the Catzz won't play again until July 25 at Honolulu, the team they are trying to beat out for the last playoff berth.
The following week, the Catzz will complete their regular season at Madison.
NOTE: Backup quarterback and former BYU Cougar Paul Shoemaker is no longer with the Catzz. Shoemaker, who graduated this spring in business, has accepted a job offer and ended his professional football career.