The Calgary Thunder was a member of the Alberta Football League they played in the league from 2000-2007.
Calgary Thunder Football Club HistoryEdit
The Calgary Thunder have a long and colorful history. In fact, the Thunder began life as another team in another city.
- The Red Deer RedSkins (1985-1987)
- The Red Deer Sooners(1988-1999)
- The Calgary Thunder (2000-2007)
The Red Deer Sooners were originally the Red Deer RedSkins and played in the 1987 AFL championship game. The Red Deer Sooners were run by Dale "Boo Boo" Carlson & Dwayne McMahon, who also played and did all the behind scenes work. After defeating the Calgary Crude at McMahon Stadium on Randy Lindholm's 60 yard touchdown run and Grant Sears running quarterback game. The 18 man roster of Red Deer made it to the final against the Calgary Wolfpack in the 1989 AFL final. The Wolfpack had a bunch of new faces in the lineup for the final and had over 30 players to work with at the old army barracks on Crowchild trail where the final was held. The Sooners took the game into overtime and ran out of gas losing to the Wolfpack and igniting a tremendous rivalry. The Sooners learned that day to win with class and not try to embarrass the other teams by bragging. They would have ample opportunity in the next few years to show other teams how to act when winning.
Current Red Deer Bucs Brent Raddis, John West, Clint Holtz and Kevin Waldo all played for the Sooners at one time and Bernie Huedepohl and his brother Dave also played during the Sooners 1988 to 1999 run in the AFL.
The 1990 season was forgetful for the Sooners but in 1991 the core of the Red Deer powerhouse formed that launched the Sooners into the AFL final from 1991 until 1997 (a record that still stands today). Pat & Steve DeLay, Cam Boyle, Mark Healy, Trevor Moore all made the Sooners defense the best in the league. Bernie Huedepohl brought some real skilled players from Lacombe such as Johnny Lee to QB the offence, and the Sooners running and passing lead the league in scoring and in points against. The Defense was led by Pat & Steve DeLay with Dale Carlson, Dwayne McMahon, Rod Johnson, to name a few. The Sooners met the Calgary Crude and Tom Luzzi(current Gator and former Sooner) in the final and won a close game to finally break through as Champions. Team MVP Randy Lindholm was a force running the ball and returning kicks. Johnny Lee was the Mike Vick of the league, the fastest player in the league and a threat to throw with the Shuttle (Glen), Bernie and others to catch.
MVP: Randy Lindholm Back: Randy Lindholm MVP: Defense Pat DeLay Sportsmanship: Lyle Lineman: Scott Hall
Key additions: Added Ken & Kevin Proctor, Chris Gailus, Darryl Cunningham to a strong team and rolled over every team in the league week after week. Ken Proctor and Steve DeLay rocked people from the linebacker position and Gailus pass rushed QBs into throwing ducks game in and game out. The only problem seemed to be practice and attitude. We didn't have either and lost by the amazing score of 4-0 in the AFl final at Great Chief Park. Too much Billy Bob's and Ezzies the night before the game cost the Sooners an undefeated season and made them work harder in the off season.
MVP: Pat DeLay Best Back: Johnny Lee Lineman: Dale Carlson Defense Ken Proctor & Steve DeLay MIP: Chris Gailus
Key additions: Tom Shuler, Rick Stumpf, Bill DeLay, Greg Zeleny and Gary Lagrange, Ray Trudel, Doug Hackman.
The season started with a loss to the defending champions, Wolfpack at Shouldice and there was not another Sooner loss until the 1995 championship game. Pat DeLay moved to nose guard. Steve DeLay and Ken Proctor moved inside in a 3-4 alignment with Tom Shuler playing safety and handling the kicking duties. Having Darryl Cunningham for a full year made a huge difference and the emergence of #9 Gary Lagrange as a Ronny Lott type hitter in the backfield made the defense abusive and nasty. Cam Boyle and Greg Zelany handled the offence and we finally saw passing in the AFL!
The Sooners played 2 games one weekend pounding the Wolfpack Saturday night 39-0 and the Cowboys 65-0 Sunday afternoon to put up the first 100 point weekend in AFL history. This record will remain for years to come. Before Darryl Leason on the Wolfpack, there was Greg Zeleny. The only AFL QB with a 400lb bench press and a canon arm the Sooners ran in the first half and passed in the second. Winning the championship game 38-0 over the Wolpack to avenge our last season failure, the Sooners were back on top. The defense was running a Chicago Bear , Buddy Ryan "Bear" and with corners Cunningham and Legrange picking off passes, the line was jammed with 8 players in the box, Gailus out wide Healy, Waldo, Carlson, and amazing tackle Mickey with Pat DeLay shooting all the gaps. Steve and Ken(50 & 45) scraped up what was left.
MVP: Tom Shuler & Darryl Cunningham Lineman: Rick Stumpf Defense: Steve DeLay & Ken Proctor MIP: Kevin Proctor
Key additions: Joey Whelen, John Clark, Jason Warnock, Ian , Warren Hackman
Edmonton Seminoles joined the league with the help of some ex-Sooners and Huskies/Wildcats. The league got more competitive in a hurry and the Sooners adapted. Greg Zeleny took over as the full time QB and we only wish we took stats. Joey Whelen burst on the scene with an amazing 18 TDs and combined with Darryl Cunningham to give Zeleny a 1-2 passing game that nobody could cover or keep up with. Tom Shuler mopped up at running back and the "5 Angry Men" o-line of LT Pat DeLay, LG John Clark, C Rick Stumpf, RG Dale Carlson, RT Bill DeLay averaged 290lbs and besides Pat only had to play o-line.
The Sooners started off in Edmonton and pounded the Seminoles 30-0 in a blood letting for the Defense and the offensive line. Joey Whelen was amazing that season. Virtually untouchable, especially at McMahon, Whelen ran the 9 & post all season and should have gone to Stamps camp the next season before hurting his knee. The defense pounded away at all other teams running backs and receivers causing turnovers and creating havoc. "Houston" was the D the Sooners used with all D-line on one side of the ball and linebackers on the other with a safety option to blitz.
The 1994 championship game was held at Great Chief Park and it was the Seminoles vs the Sooners. What a great game. Max Irabor was the awesome middle backer for the Seminoles in his debut but it wasn't enough to stop Zeleny, Whelen and Cunningham. The defense really brought some hard hits and held the Seminoles on the ground allowing Greg, Joey and Darryl a chance to open up the air show. 34-13 was the final and this started a fierce rivalry with Edmonton.
MVP: Tom Shuler & Joey Whelen Defense: Ken Proctor & Steve DeLay Lineman: Rick Stumpf MIP Warren Hackman Offensive: Greg Zeleny MIP:"The Kids"
Key additions: Tom Luzzi joins the Sooners, Jimmy Brutus played a few games, Marshall Ennis from the All Strength muscle show, Trevor Remus, Lyle Fee, Brad Olstad.
Lyle Fee from the Calgary Colts took over at QB after Greg Zeleny moved to USA to pursue a career in Alpine Ski coaching (he currently is in Colorado). The defense remained strong with addition of Luzzi and Olstad. Ken Proctor got hurt early and was lost for the year. Steve DeLay moved to mainly fullback and was joined by Doug Hackman to form the top running game in the league. Lyle handled the kicking and ran very well behind the still powerful line. After playing 13 games in 1994 the Sooners were tired. Pat & Steve played with Winnipeg in Thunder Bay during a first round bye. The Sooners allowed the championship game to be played at McMahon on a Sunday night and were outworked to the tune of 18-0 by the Wolfpack. The Sooners weren't focused enough at the end of the year and it showed with all the turnovers and penalties.
MVP: Steve DeLay & Joey Whelen Defense: Gary Legrange Lineman: John Clark & Rick Stumpf Offensive Back: Warren Hackman Sportsmanship: DESTROYED
Key Additions: Kiyo Pearson, Dean Tymko, Gary Sanderson, Ab, Chad Selke
The Sooners returned in 96 with another first place finish. Proctor was back and joined Kijo in the linebacker group with Luzzi and Chad Selke to form a powerful defense again. Warren Hackman rotated at tailback with Steve DeLay and Doug Hackman and the Sooners ran well again. Gary "I only drink when I'm thirsty" Sanderson had a decent year and used Joey Whelen as much as possible. Joey was still slowed by a knee injury from '95 but put up numbers anyway. Gary Legrange had a huge year on D picking off a league high in INTs and scoring many TDs. The Sooners rushed for the most yards again and the O-line was revamped and looked good.
The championship game was good but the unexpected loss to the Wolfpack 14-8 made it tough to regroup for '97.
MVP Steve DeLay Warren Hackman & Ken Proctor Lineman Dale Carlson & Rick Stumpf Defense MVP Kijo Pearson MIP Dean Tymko Back Warren Hackman .
Key additions: Tony Prencipe, Patti O'Hearn, Lyle Fee (missed 96), Mike Scarpino, Rob Pepper.
This was the fun year for the Sooners when we realized people were going to retire or just not play so anything went. From the Beer gardens we ran at the Slo-pitch championships to the 41-38 final regular season game vs the Wolfpack the team had lots of fun anyway. Doug Hackman and Trevor Remus played everywhere for the team and shared the MVP award.
Defense was still good and fast. Chris Gailus was back for the full year and the new 4-3 D was looking great from the start. Lyle Fee flew in from Toronto for the games and the playoffs. Used a 6-pack offense the whole game against the Wolfpack. Warren Hackman QBed the game and the Sooners played at home against the Cowboys in the first playoff game. Lyle Fee came into town for an overtime win over the Cowboys and the Edmonton Icemen waited for us in Edmonton after beating the Wolfpack in a near brawl.
Edm had Max & Terry in the back field and the Sooners countered with Kijo & Rob Pepper at D-Tackle Pat DeLay at one end and Chris Gailus at the other. Tony Precipe moved inside with Chad Selke & Ken Proctor to shut down the Icemen running game. Doug hackman caught the winning TD on a sandlot play drawn up by Pat,Lyle & Doug in the huddle at the start of the 4th quarter.7-3 final with nothing left on the field by either team. Warren Hackman & Steve DeLay rushed for over 300yds but failed to score as EDm defense was tough as you can get. Both teams sent players to Winnipeg for the annual Pat DeLay AFL game vs the Mustangs and had a great time.
MVP Trevor Remus & Doug Hackman Lineman: Bill DeLay & John Clark Defense:Chris Gailus & Ken Proctor MIP:Mike Scarpino Back: Warren Hackman & Steve DeLay
Key losses Steve & Bill DeLay, Chris Gailus, Rick Stumpf (except playoffs), Doug Hackman, Tom Shuler and many more.
The first non final appearance in years. The new Calgary Gators won the semifinal game vs the Sooners and won the AFL championship. Highlighted by Kijo & Pat playing QB & running back in the Gator playoff and almost winning with guys we didn't even know. Bernie Huedepohl returned to play as well but we fell short.
MVP: Kijo Pearson Defense: Gary Legrange & Ken Proctor
Key additions: Carlo Lucente, Brian Harrison, Brent Walker, Brad Handle, Steve Duscai, Scott Kollar, Brad Fielding
A very talented team in the final year of the Red Deer Sooners. Former Colt & Wolfpack Brian Harrison joins as QB and brings many ex-Colts to the team. Lots of running and decent defense. Darryl Leason in his first year with the Wolpack beats the Sooners in the semifinal before winning the AFL title over the Gators. Lots of good players with Kiyo Pearson, Jason Warnock & holdovers Pat DeLay and Dean Tymko still playing on D. The decision is made to move the team to Calgary for the 2000 season
MVP: Brian Harrison & Kijo Pearson Back: Brad Handle Lineman: Steve Ducsai
Calgary Thunder are born Original Captains: Pat DeLay, Brian Harrison, Steve Ducsai, Jason Warnock Dwayne Krywulak, Kijo Pearson, Darren Lewison
The Calgary Thunder chose the colors of the Oakland Raiders and started a reign of hell raising terror and aerial assaults on the AFL. With #13 Brian Harrison at QB and passing to ex-Wolfpack allstars Tim Johnson, Darren Lewison along with ex-CFL'ers Marcus Dowdell and Carlo Lucente running the ball the Thunder scored the most points in the league. Defense was led by an awesome front 4 of #55 Pat DeLay LE #66 Brad Fielding LT #56 Scott Kollar RT & #98 Steve Ducsai backed up by #53 Kiyo Pearson, #51 Jason Warnock & #19 Dwayne Krywulak at LB the Thunder defense was huge. Jimmy Brutus, Sean Stewart, Brent Walker & Taric Cohen at DB passing against the Thunder was tough.
Darryl Leason came back during his season with the Regina Rams to play against the Thunder in the AFL Championship game amid much controversy to win the game. The Thunder had an excellent first season.
MVP: Brian Harrison Offensive player: Brian Harrison Defensive: Sean Stewart Rookie: Kevin Fisher Lineman: Brad Fielding Thunder Pride: Tim Magee
Key additions: Marvin Pope (coach), PeeWee Smith, Steve Mclean, Solomon Blais, Dennis Clark, Mike Clarkson, Kevin Meyer.
Starting in Red Deer vs the Wolfpack the Thunder served notice that they would not be denied in 2001. Beating the Wolfpack and sacking Leason on the last play of the game, the Thunder began an undefeated season led by a fast offence and even faster defense. Marvin "Big Daddy" Pope used lots of bodies in his punishing offence with many times lining up 5 running backs as well as running 6-packs with Brian Harrison and his many receivers. PeeWee Smith returned punts and always presented the offence with excellent field position. Mike Clarkson, Kiyo Pearson, Solomon Blais#95 and Jason Warnock led the linebackers to give up the least points in the league. Harrison passed to allstars Smith, Tim Johnson and Steve Mclean. Jimmy Brutus was a leader on defence and Tim Johnson also switched to DB during most of the season to shut down any threat.
The playoffs were different as the Thunder stumbled in the first game against the Coyotes winning 15-0 setting up a final against the Gators who pounded the Wolfpack 22-1.
The AFL final featured Brian Harrison in front of Pat DeLay,Brad Fielding, Kiyo Pearson Carlo Lucente and Dwayne Krywulak as the Thunder pounded the ball at the Gators. They were a better team than expected and the Thunder was in tough all game winning 16-14 and taking the AFL championship
MVP: Tim Johnson & Solomon Blais Offensive: Brian Harrison & Carlo Lucente Defensive: Brad Fielding Lineman: Ammon Piepgrass Thunder Pride: Dave Hanni & Ken Lovett Rookie: Mike Clarkson
Key additions: Laverne Kot, Nick Kot, Darrell Cherniak, Woz Saghir, Reagan Kruger
The 2002 season saw a lot of changes and upheaval in the Thunder. Falling victim to the Champions Curse, lack of committment and player apathy really took it's toll on the team. Injuries to key players also impacted the team.
lost in semifinal vs Wolfpack 17-14 . Pat should have blocked Mcleans kick!
Key additions: Pablo Martinez, Abouti Mourtado, Justin Sinclair, Terrance Smith, Dave Zahari
MVP: Brian Harrison Offensive: PeeWee Smith Thunder Pride: Woz Saghir Defensive: Darrell Cherniak Lineman: Laverne Kot
Key additions: Ryan "Montana" Stang, Jeremey Lindsay
Things turned around quickly for the Thunder, however, with the addition of Todd Wiseman as head coach halfway through 2004. Todd's exceptional knowledge of the game and committment to the team brings out the best in all his players. With a winning record in the second half of the 2004 season and very strong recruiting in the off season, the Thunder look poised for a return to greatness in 2005. . MVP: Laverne Kot Lineman: Dale Langley Offensive: Danny Craig & Tim Johnson Thunder Pride: Dan Marsden Special Teams: Abouti Mourtado Defensive: Nick Kot
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