Weekly Feature



2016-07-06 / Sports

Kacz repeats as indoor football champ with Columbus Lions

by PATRICK J. NAGY
Reporter


Casey Kacz, a 2009 Sweet Home graduate, celebrates after leading the Columbus Lions to a 74-32 victory over the Western Michigan Ironmen in the championship game of the American Indoor Football League June 25 in Columbus, Georgia. Kacz completed 23-of-34 passes for 286 yards and eight touchdowns, and ran in another. Kacz helped the Lions win the Professional Indoor Football League title in 2015. Casey Kacz, a 2009 Sweet Home graduate, celebrates after leading the Columbus Lions to a 74-32 victory over the Western Michigan Ironmen in the championship game of the American Indoor Football League June 25 in Columbus, Georgia. Kacz completed 23-of-34 passes for 286 yards and eight touchdowns, and ran in another. Kacz helped the Lions win the Professional Indoor Football League title in 2015. Another year resulted in another championship for Casey Kacz and the Columbus Lions professional indoor football team.

The 2009 Sweet Home graduate completed 23-of-34 passes for 286 yards and eight touchdowns, and ran in another in leading Columbus to a 74-32 victory over the Western Michigan Ironmen in the championship game of the American Indoor Football League June 18 in Columbus, Georgia.

In 2015, Kacz helped the Lions defeat the Richmond Raiders, 64-38, in the Professional Indoor Football League championship game July 6. Kacz was named the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.

“I didn’t know if it would be more satisfying than the year before, but it was because if you can repeat, that is so rare in any sport,” Kacz said. “Not many teams can go undefeated. It doesn’t matter what level or sport. We really focused on every game and did not take anyone lightly.”

The win over Western Michigan capped off an 11-0 season.

“Coming into camp, our goal — which we never said out loud — was to go undefeated,” Kacz said. “Anything less would have been a disappointment. It felt amazing.”

Columbus’ title win this year ended in bizarre fashion.

Western Michigan elected not to continue the game with 4:08 remaining after a fan punched a Western Michigan player, which resulted in the fan and multiple players getting ejected.

“It was a bizarre ending,” Kacz said. “We’ll take the win, even with it ending like that. We were so excited.”

Kacz missed a couple series in the first half due to suffering an MCL strain in his left knee. He played through the injury, crediting the play of his offensive line for giving him time to throw, and his receivers for making great catches.

“It was a recipe for success,” Kacz said.

Kacz finished the season with 71 passing touchdowns and 11 rushing scores for 81 total touchdowns.

He tied his own single game team record for touchdowns thrown with nine and set the team’s single season record for completion percentage at 70 percent.

Kacz is not sure how many yards he threw for, but thought it was between 2,300 and 2,400. He also threw only seven interceptions.

Kacz said his stats are a reflection of how he was able to read defensive coverage better and delivering the ball to his receivers quicker.

“There were times last year that I was so nervous before and during games,” Kacz said. “There were guys on the team who are 30, 32 years old who have played for eight to nine years and look to you to lead the team and there I was, a 24-year-old. This year, I was considered a veteran and people in the league knew who Columbus was and who we were as an offense. We had more swag and confidence, and I definitely had more confidence. Last year coaches would tell me what plays to run. In certain situations this year, I would say ‘let’s try this’ and [coach Jason Gibson] trusts me enough to say ‘go ahead and do that.’”

Kacz said he will not be playing for Columbus next year. He said the decision had nothing to do with the team; he just wanted to play at a higher level.

“I don’t want to get stagnant and play at the same level,” Kacz said. “If I can’t make a career of moving up, it’s time to stop. But I am forever grateful to the Columbus coaches and staff. Their fans are unbelievable. They are just as committed to the team as people here are committed to the Bills. They treat it like they are an NFL team.”

Kacz said he has signed a short term with the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League and reported Tuesday. The Gladiators are 7-6 and sit in second place in the National Conference.

Kacz will be vying for the backup quarterback spot. If he does well, he hopes his contract with the Gladiators will be extended through the end of the season.

“I’m hoping to show them what I can do in practice, whether it is running the scout team, whatever chance I get to show them throughout the week,” Kacz said. “I will be doing the best I can and hoping they will want me for the rest of the season.”

email: pnagy@beenews.com

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