The Rocky Mountain Football League (RMFL) was established in the Spring of 1997 - originally based in Pocatello, Idaho - by it's first "commissioner", Matt Culbertson. Culbertson saw himself as a facilitor of adult football in the Southeast Idaho area. His vision saw the possibilities of league expansion into other realms of Idaho, however, the focus of the original Rocky Mountain Football league was not necessarily to "expand", make money or even grow in reputation, it was simply to provide an opportunity for local area football players to continue their careers, or in some situations, begin careers in the greater Rocky Mountain area. It was established as a Fall football league, however, the Rocky Mountain Football League has grown and has gained in reputation and has began to settle in as a Spring Football League.
Culbertson, who moved to Pocatello in 1996 from Minnesota played in what was then called the "Great Plains Football League" (GPFL). He gave the league its name, "Rocky Mountain Football League" and contacted local media sources (primarily newspapers) and produced and put up fliers around Pocatello, Idaho Falls and Blackfoot, Idaho, advertising for interested football players who might wish to play in a "semi-pro" football league in the area. Initial responses were outstanding and he spent countless hours on the phone with football players talking up the new league. Finally, an initial "organizational" meeting was held. After enough players and leaders came forward, it initially appeared as if there would be 6 teams playing (4 from Pocatello/American Falls, 1 from Blackfoot and 1 from Idaho Falls), it eventually settled on 4 organized teams: Rocky Mountain Bulls (headed by Culbertson), Idaho Falls Mustangs (headed by Jared Neumeier), Pocatello-Blackfoot Dragons (headed by Brett Smith, Scott Bell and Rob Aubrey), and Pocatello Fighting Kangaroos (headed by David Lint).
Rocky Mountain Football League Season-by-seasonEdit
the Rocky Mountain Bulls (Pocatello) rode a dominating defense to the RMFL title winning the title game against the Idaho Falls Mustangs 16 - 0. The Bulls, Mustangs and Dragons played some highly competitive and close matches through a brief 6-game regular season, while the Kangaroos struggled with personnel in going winless. That first year goal was met, however... to just play football.... Even today, many RMFL old-timers will say that 1997 was the league's greatest season... because that is the year it all began.
saw the addition of its first expansion franchise, the Mini-Cassia Bulldawgs. Prior to the season beginning, it appeared as if there would be two teams from the Burley/Rupert/Twin Falls area, but as the season rounded out, the Bulldawgs emerged as the one united team from south central Idaho. The "Kangaroos" changed their name to "Bandits" and added a few players from a failed new Idaho Falls Team, "Idaho Timberwolves". So the RMFL, which looked like it might begin 1998 with 8 teams, dropped to 5 by season start. Two incredible changes marked the 1998 season. The rise of the Idaho Falls Mustangs and the fall of the Rocky Mountain Bulls. The Mustangs recovered from two pre-season losses, to "run the table" in the 1998 season, going 8 - 0 in the regular season and finally beating the re-named Portneuf Valley Dragons 32 - 0 in the championship game. The 1997 undefeated Bulls, meanwhile struggled early, culminating in the teams worse loss in history, to the until then winless, Pocatello Bandits (Kangaroos).
The "Bandits" disbanded and became the first original RMFL team to "fold", however 4 new teams were added to the fastly growing league. The highly organized, well-run Great Falls Rangers, the Twin Falls Wildcats and two new "powerhouse" teams, the Snake River Rebels (Moreland, Idaho) and the Treasure Valley (Boise, Idaho) Cowboys. It would become "the year of the Rebels", as they opened a pre-season game by dropping the 1998 runner-up, (re-named) Blackfoot Dragons 44 - 0 and then going on to roll the once powerful Idaho Falls Mustangs 44 - 12 in the second regular season game of the year. As the Rebels dominated the East Division, the Cowboys did the West and it became only fitting that the teams met in the RMFL Championship game, a hard fought game, won by the Rebels 36 - 28.
2000 was marked by significant expansion in the RMFL. The league added the Bozeman Kodiaks, Billings Warriors, Boise Cardinals and Wasatch Wildcats. The Blackfoot Dragons merged with the Rocky Mountain Bulls forming the Rocky Mountain Cobras while the league lost defending champion Snake River to independancy and the allure of a spring schedule. After a bumpy beginning , the league had another great season. Emerging as the indominable powerhouse, the Wasatch Wildcats ran the table undefeated through the season. The only minor speed bump for the Wildcats was RMFL's most consistent franchise, the Idaho Falls Mustangs. The Mustangs lead both contests with the Wildcats into the 4th quarter before falling off at the end. But, in the final meeting, the RMFL championship, the Wildcats made a statement, jumping up fast and furious and cruising to a 68-7 victory over the 1998 champion Mustangs for the title.
The 2001 season started long before any football was played with a hot political battlefield of league affiliations. The Montana teams (Bozeman and Great Falls) decided to test waters in the "NAFL". Under new management, Idaho Falls was convinced to prove themselves in the neigboring UFL and Treasure Valley and Billings folded up shop. What emerged, however, from a depleted RMFL field in 2001 was a new powerhouse football team, the Pocatello Silverbacks. As Pocatello was the original charter city of the league, it became appropriate that new life was breathed into the Rocky Mountain's premier league by a new team from Pocatello. After the league's original champion, Rocky Mountain Bulls folded after the 1999 season and merged with the Fort Hall Cobras, there was a year of no football in Pocatello. The Silverbacks restored football to the "Gate City" and became part of an Idaho surge that vaulted Idaho teams into 4 of the top twenty ranked positions in AA Semi-pro football. After coming behind from a 17-6 deficit in the second quarter of the RMFL championship game to the Boise Roughriders (formerly Boise "Cardinals"), the Silverbacks came back and decisively captured the championship 48-20. Pocatello finished the season ranked 10th in the nation in AA football. They joined previous RMFL champions, Idaho Falls and Snake River as well as RMFL runner-up Boise in the top 20 AA teams in the country.
witnessed substantial regrowth in the RMFL. Ex-champions, Idaho Falls and Snake River returned to the league and a new powerhouse, the Madison Lionz from Rexburg, Idaho also emerged. Montana returned to the RMFL in the Helena Titans and the stage was set. 2002 was the "year of parity" as, for the first time in league history, no team went undefeated during the regular season. The evental champion, the Idaho Falls Mustangs actually lost two regular season games, going 6-2 before dropping Madison in the first round of the playoffs in a hotly contested game and then playing Pocatello to the final seconds in the "greatest RMFL championship" in the league's history, finally prevailing 28-21 withstanding a last minute drive inside their own 10-yard line by the Silverbacks before denying the Silverbacks a back-to-back championship, while at the same time becoming the first team in RMFL history to win 2 championships.
Parity, parity, parity was the theme of 2003. Although the Madison Lionz "ran the table" in the regular season, going 8-0 into the playoffs, several of their games were closely contested and after losing MVP Quarterback, Troy Dougherty for the season in their seventh game, looked very beatable going into the playoffs. The Mini-Cassia Bulldawgs, the most improved team of the year, won their first divisional title ever, vindicating previous frustration by beating never-defeated before rivals, Pocatello and Boise (twice). Fifth seed, and defending champion, Idaho Falls Mustangs did what had never been done before. The Mustangs, after finishing the season with 5 wins and 3 losses, vindicated each of their three losses in the playoffs... all on the road. Starting with the team they beat in the 2002 Championship game, the Pocatello Silverbacks, then systematically dismantling the Madison Lionz 46-6 and finishing with the coup d'etat, defeating the Snake River Rebels for the first time in Mustang history in the championship game 20-8 to win their unprecendented 3rd RMFL title and, also never achieved, second consecutive. After the season, after 5 years of sporatic glory, the Snake River Rebels, the RMFL's 1999 champions and 2002 suspendees, sadly disbanded. Hope springs eternal, however, as post-season talks turned towards a potential "merger" with the Utah Football League and an influx of competition, rivalries and drama for 2004...
The off-season before the 2004 season brought about a successful merger of the Utah Football League (UFL) with the RMFL. 5 UFL teams came into the RMFL: Davis Vipers, Utah Blitz, Salt Lake Nemesis, Layton Longhorns and 4-time reigning champion, South Ogden Rhino-Raiders. Also 4 new expansion teams joined the league: Utah Woverines, Layton Pitbulls, Mountain Home Bengals and Glacier Knights. With a spike in the growth of the league in 2004, the long-established parity of the previous seasons took a hit. New teams, Mountain Home and Glacier struggled and a stacked-with-ex-college-talent, South Ogden team continued to dominate. Consistent RMFL great organization, Pocatello struggled some and even missed the playoffs. Ultimately, an undefeated South Ogden Rhino-Raiders met the two-time reigning champion (and 3-time RMFL championship winner) Idaho Falls Mustangs in the RMFL title game. Earlier in the season, the Mustangs hung with the Rhino-Raiders for the better part of 3 quarters, with a 0-0 tie until the Rhino-Raiders exploded late in the 3rd quarter and pulled away for a 28-0 victory. There was a little less drama in the championship game, however. After a scoreless first quarter, the Rhino-Raiders put up four 2nd quarter touchdowns to lead 27-0 at half and cruise in for a 46-20 victory and their first RMFL championship. As the 2004 season closed, the merger was deemed successful. However, as the league experienced an increased division between the competetive "have's" and "have not's", there was hope that the gap will close dramatically in 2005. 2005's champion could be any of an array of team's lining up to compete for the big silver pigskin, the RMFL Championship Trophy.
An unprecedented 8 new teams were added to the RMFL in 2005. A return of the 2000 champion, Wasatch Wildcats, as well as the Missoula Raptors, Idaho Matadors, Snake River Sabercats, Brigham City Devil Dogs, Morgan Marauders, Kamas Valley Muddogs and the Colorado Scorpions. With an ever growing field, the question of continued dominance by the Ogden areas aging Rhino-Raiders became a bigger question mark than ever before. With area rival, Wasatch on the Rhino-Raider schedule as well as championship game runner-up, Idaho Falls, the Rhinos would have their toughest road to the RMFL championship ever... and did. The Rhinos remained undefeated through the regular season, including close wins over lower echelon teams like the Vipers and Kamas Valley Muddogs and a hard fought regular season win over the Wasatch Wildcats. The Rhinos had to face the Wildcats again in the playoffs before facing their biggest Rocky Mountain test ever, the Madison Lionz in the RMFL Championship game. The Lionz were more than a match, amassing more total yards and controlling much of the championship game. The Lionz even seemed on their way to victory when a long touchdown run by Nate Rydalch was "dropped" near the goal line and the Rhinos recovered the ball...and the game; holding on for a 24-19 victory. Running back, Rashad Kennedy, was the story for the Rhino offense, rushing for 130 yards, two touchdowns and the game MVP award. With talks of a AAA/AA split for the 2006 season, the off-season promised to be eventful and significant to the overall future of the league.
In 2006, expansion ebbed a bit with the introduction of only two "additional" teams. The Utah Heat were added to the RMFL, effectively replacing the folded Utah Blitz and the Magic Valley Bulldawgs were voted in as a "new" team after new management took over the troubled franchise that had forfeited its first round play-off game in 2005. In Montana, the Bitterroot Blaze were formed out of Hamilton, Montana, a team that would make some real noise in 2006 and, perhaps the biggest story, some of the champion Rhino-Raiders formed a new team in Logan, Utah; the Cache Valley Bears. The Bears would be a top team in 2006, however, the discussion revolved early around just what would the formation of the Bears take from the defending champions. The now named, Ogden Rhino-Raiders, however, would not see a set-back. Taking advantage of the late folding of the Wasatch Wildcats, the Rhinos retooled their defense behind the tutledge of the ex-Wilcat defensive coordinator, even setting a league record in quarterback sacks for the season en route to another undefeated season. The biggest story of 2006, however, was the splitting of the RMFL into "two leagues". The RMFL formed a AAA division for its top teams to compete for the overall RMFL title and a AA, or developmental division, that would compete for a AA championship and the opportunity to improve and move up to compete in the AAA level. The Muddogs (formerly known as "Kamas Valley Muddogs") stepped to the forfront behind a new start quarterback (Jordan Kjar) and also went undefeated in the AA level, winning the first ever AA championship game over the Vipers by a 13-10 margin. The Ogden Rhino-Raiders would survive a hard-fought 35-28 victory over the improved Pocatello Predators in the semi-finals before playing a championship game re-match with the Madison Lionz. In another classic battle, the Rhino-Raiders were able to stay a step ahead of the Madison Lionz and the 2006 MVP, Troy Dougherty with a 34-26 victory despite being out-gained by the Lionz. The big story was two-fold. Another MVP rushing performance by Rashad Kennedy paced the Rhino offense, but it was an incredible attacking defensive effort, sacking Dougherty a record and an unbelievable 13 times getting a defensive team "co-MVP" determination as the Rhinos continued their impressive record of consistency, even in a season that started with the loss of several key players. Quarterback, Dave Stireman, had perhaps his best season in the RMFL, setting a record by tossing 30 touchdown passes while his favorite target, Damon Greenberry, set records in yards and receiving touchdowns (18) as well.
In 2007, only the Salt Lake Seminoles were added to the RMFL field, however, as they effectively replaced the folding Salt Lake Nemesis, the league finally enjoyed a season of relative growth stability. The biggest story of 2007 was that the Ogden Rhino-Raider win streak, dating back to the Utah Football League days (pre-2004) finally came to an end. The Rhino-Raiders would lose battles to both the Idaho Falls Mustangs and Utah Wolverines during the regular season... however, would ultimately win the war. The Bitterroot Blaze asserted themselves at the top of the AA power structure, not only going undefeated, wire-to-wire to capture the AA title in 2007, however, they set a number of records in points allowed, defense, and rushing as Justin Nixon rushed to another rushing title and a AA MVP award. The Blaze would ultimately defeat rival, Missoula for the third time in the season by a score of 15-0 to win the title. Missoula would enter the Championship game, having pulled off perhaps the biggest upset victory of the season, a 34-28 road victory over the top-ranked Vipers from Northern Utah. The Rhino-Raiders would capture the AAA (and overall) RMFL title with another tight victory over their biggest rival, the Cache Valley Bears 16-14. The Rhinos had beaten the Bears earlier in the season 7-6 by virtue of a blocked extra point. They would capture their 4th straight RMFL title, once again, behind a great rushing performance, this time, by Justin Oswald who rushed for 161 yards in the contest and was named the games MVP. The Madison Lionz (renamed Eastern Idaho Lionz) saw their first season without reigning MVP, Troy Dougherty, and fell to the Rhino-Raiders in the quarterfinals 27-21. In what was announced as his "final" season of semi-pro football, Rhino GM and star quarterback, Dave Stireman, finally captured the elusive league MVP award in leading the defending champions back from adversity all season, all the way to another title.
In 2008, growth took a backseat to change. After winning 4 consecutive titles, it was announced early that the South Ogden Rhino-Raiders would be folding prior to the pre-season meeting. Perennial AAA contender, the Madison Lionz were approved to drop to AA while the 2007 AA Champion, Bitterroot Blaze moved up to AAA along with nearby rival, Missoula Phoenix. Three new franchises were added: Logan Stampede, Stripling Warriorz and Uintah Basin Oilers as the RMFL expanded to 23 total teams heading into the 2008 season; three AA divisions would result with the 12 teams. A Northern division to include the now AA Lionz, Helena, Great Falls and Glacier. A Western division that would include Boise, Snake River, Magic Valley and Idaho. And a Southern division that would include Logan, Morgan, Strippling and Uintah Basin. Remaining for the AAA would be Cache Valley, Utah Shock, Utah Wolverines, Utah Heat, Bear River Rockets, Salt Lake Seminoles, Idaho Falls Mustangs, Pocatello Predators, Bitterroot Blaze and Missoula Phoenix. The Shock shocked the league by recovering from a dismal inaugural season in the AAA in 2007 to win the regular season #1 playoff seed before falling to the Cache Valley Bears in the semi-finals. The AAA championship turned out to be the most exciting and dramatic championship in RMFL history as the Bears beat the Utah Wolverines in AAA overtime. The AA title was captured by the Lionz, accused of “sand-bagging” early as they dropped their first game of the season to Helena before winning out, including a dramatic championship victory over the Idaho Matadors, scoring a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of the game. Dave Sire and Ed Cerise were appointed “Division Commissioners” to begin the season as the RMFL staff expanded. Cerise, however, struggled to perform and was replaced after the season with RMFL webmaster, Travis Hobson.
The 2009 Season saw the RMFL staff coming into focus. Shane Campbell replaced Travis Hobson as web master and initiated a new web site for the RMFL as the RMFL moved to a new Statistics hosting program through “Hosted Statistics”. A program that worked well only if the league stayed within the “cookie cutter” requirements of the program. Further, the RMFL experienced unprecedented growth. With only the Salt Lake Seminoles and Stripling Warriorz folding; and the Idaho Matadors merging with the Treasure Valley Spartans, the league continued to grow. 7 new franchises were added, two of those 7 were added as a AA “affiliate” of a current AA team: Ogden (formerly Bear River) Rockets and the Treasure Valley (formerly Boise Speed) Spartans. 5 other new teams were added, including two teams that would capture RMFL championships in the next two seasons: Wasatch Revolution and Saint George Blitz. Along with the new AA affiliates and the Blitz and Revolution, the league added the Utah Valley Desperados, Utah County Outlawz and the Davis Cowboys. The league was formed into 14 AA teams and 14 AAA teams for 28 teams. Bitter player movement debate and consequences followed the league early on after the Kick-off meeting. A large portion of key Utah Wolverine players left the Wolverines to help start the new Wasatch Revolution team and a number of Davis Vipers left that age-old franchise to join the Utah Shock. Commissioners Dave Sire and Travis Hobson were entrenched in bitter suspension rulings and player movement interpretations that would scar the beginning of the season. Ultimately, all would be resolved as the Utah Shock, once again, won the regular season title, even beating the Wasatch Revolution in the regular season to gain the #1 seed. Lead once again by reigning league MVP, Jordan Kjar, this time the Shock would make it to the RMFL title game, only to be undone by former BYU Cougar, quarterback, Charlie Peterson and the highly stocked expansion, Wasatch Revolution team for the 2009 RMFL title. Interestingly, it would not be the first time a team new to the league would win the title. It was also done in 1999 (Snake River), 2000 (Wasatch Wildcats), 2001 (Pocatello Predators), 2004 (Rhino-Raiders). The AA saw a number of rising franchises emerge, rising out of a history of difficult seasons: including Great Falls Gladiators (7-1), Magic Valley Bulldawgs (7-1), Glacier Knights (6-2) as well as the Logan Stampede (8-0) taking the next step and expansion team, Utah Valley Desperados (7-1) making a statement. The Desperados would upset the Gladiators in Great Falls to face the Logan Stampede in the AA Championship game. In a closely contested bout, the Stampede would emerge with the AA title and a stake in the upper echelon of the RMFL for 2010.
Even before the annual January kick-off meeting, 10-year RMFL Commissioner, Jared Neumeier, declared it would be his last; recommending AA Commissioner, Travis Hobson as his eventual replacement at the conclusion of the 2010 season. The league grew once more, however, with the folding of the Rockets two franchises, the Utah Heat, and former league Champion, Pocatello Predators after 9 seasons of operation. Further, former AA Champion and former AAA championship contending franchise, the Eastern Idaho (Madison) Lionz also folded. Thusly, expansion was somewhat muted. Seven new franchises were admitted as the RMFL enrollment climbed to 29 teams, including the state of Wyoming for the first time. Two new Montana franchises entered with the Clark Fork Rush and Gallatin Valley Snowdevils. Wyoming got into the act with the Wyoming Thunder. Three “new” Idaho teams in the Upper Valley Vikings, Arco Anarchy and a resurrection of the 2008 AA runner-up, Idaho Matadors. For Utah, only the Utah Fighting Irish were approved for admission (two new Utah franchises were not approved for admission). The 2010 season started with the most hotly contested and longest lasting kick-off meeting in history. A professional marketing company was hired to take over what had been 3 years of failure by previous RMFL Marketing Directors and the league saw 13th hour moves by both the Idaho Falls Mustangs and Logan Stampede to move down to the AA level and avoid AAA competition. When the dust settled, the RMFL had 10 AAA teams (Wasatch Revolution, Utah Shock, Utah Bears, Treasure Valley Spartans, Saint George Blitz, Utah Valley Desperados, Davis Cowboys, Utah Wolverines, Upper Valley Vikings and Magic Valley Bulldawgs. The Bulldawgs and Vikings were both slated to be AA teams, however, volunteered to move up after Logan and Idaho Falls both threatened to either fold (Logan) or drop out (Idaho Falls) if not allowed to play the lesser competition. IN the absence of major player movement disputes, commissioners Hobson and Sire developed the season schedule with 10 AAA and 19 AA franchises. The Treasure Valley Spartans emerged undefeated for the first time in Boise franchise history in a schedule that played every other AAA team once. However, with the #1 seed and at home, the Spartans were upset by the Utah Shock who moved on to the RMFL Championship game for the second year in a row. The Saint George Blitz emerged over the Wasatch Revolution as the #2 seed, beating the Revolution in both the regular season (in Salt Lake) and in Saint George to host the RMFL Championship in Saint George, Utah for the first time in league history. With a raucous crowd in support, the Blitz out-defensed the Shock for a 7-3 championship victory. In the AA, the Great Falls Gladiators took the final step to the pinnacle of the AA division with an undefeated regular season. Expansion upstart, Arco Anarchy met the Gladiators in the AA title game by upsetting the Utah Renegades, the franchise that was formerly the Morgan Marauders that saw a significant influx of talent from the folded Rocket teams during the off-season. The Renegades emerged from the regular season undefeated, however, could not solve former RFMFL championship quarterback, Cody Jackson and the Anarchy as the Anarchy, who had already beaten the Bitterroot Blaze in Bitterroot would take on the Gladiators in Great Falls. The Gladiators road included defeats of the Utah Cobras (formerly Utah County Outlawz) and reigning AA Champions, Logan Stampede, at home. The Gladiators stifled the Arco offense in the Championship game as Marshane Haines outscored the Anarchy single-handedly as the Gladiators brought the AA title to upper Montana to close out the 2010 season. At the conclusion of the 13th annual RMFL All-Star Classic, held in Ogden, Utah. Former RMFL player, MVP, GM , coach and 10-year commissioner, Jared Neumeier, formally resigned from the Rocky Mountain Football League.