By David Conde

In 2012, semi-pro football took a turn for the better in the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area.  Two teams, the Florida Stingrays and the Cape Coral Wolves competed for the football fan base in the area.  The only issue was they played in two separate leagues, so trying to build a rivalry was somewhat difficult because they never played each other.  But in 2013, that will change, as the Stingrays and the Wolves will both compete in the United Football Federation (UFF) and will open up the season against each other on Saturday, February 9th in Cape Coral.  This will indeed create a local cross-river rivalry with the game being meaningful and full of pride.

The Florida Stingrays start their second football season in 2013 and with a successful 2012 season under their belt, the organization and their fans are looking forward to another year of hard hitting and winning football.  After not knowing if the team would even play in 2012 and not knowing what league they would join, the season ended on a high note with the team finishing at 6-4 and earning its first ever playoff berth.  Even though the Stingrays did not win their playoff game, they won something more than that; they won the respect of their fans, their sponsors and all the people who were involved with the team.

The 2013 season promises to bring the same excitement as it did in 2012.  The Stingrays will call Rutenberg Park their home again and hope to add to their growing roster.  The team held their first tryouts for the 2013 season on Saturday September 29 and they like that guys are already in the football mindset.  “It has been a long summer, but it feels really good to get back on the field and start preparing for our next season”, says Head Coach Chris Morant.  The Stingrays will hold their second and final tryout this Saturday October 27, at Rutenberg Park.

The Stingrays played in the Southern Amateur Football Association (SAFA) in 2012, but the team decided to move on and join the United Football Federation (UFF).  Stingray’s owner Jay Lawrence holds great respect for the owners of SAFA and he is grateful for having his team play in their league.  “Having our team compete in SAFA helped us to create our identity as a team and as an organization. With us moving on it isn’t a negative thing on SAFA, we just felt that the UFF gave us better opportunity to play teams closer to our home which also helps us out on travel cost,”  says owner Jay Lawrence.

The Cape Coral Wolves started out the 2012 season with the United Football Federation, but unfortunately they were unable to complete the season.  “We lacked the communication that we needed with our team last season and that eventually led to us hanging it up”, says Head Coach Sean Montoney, “but we worked on those issues and brought in a new crew that we feel have the right chemistry and experience to help us be successful.” Coach Montoney continues, “We also only have seven players returning from last season, which puts us in the rebuilding phase but in a positive way.”

The Wolves will call Storm Football Complex on Chiquita Blvd their home for the 2013 season and they hope to build a following with the Cape Coral residents.  When their season starts on February 9th, the NFL season, College Football and local High School Football will be over, which gives the Wolves a great opportunity to draw the same fans to their games. Just like the Stingrays, both organizations are looking to build a dedicated fan base as well as bring in sponsors to help their organizations grow.

With the Stingrays having a full season under their belt, they have the experience needed against a face to face meeting with the Wolves. “When we face the Stingrays we know that they have more experienced coaches and players that have played a full season, but we are excited about that, because it will help to build our program and give our players the confidence they need as well as create the cross-river rivalry that will help our organization and theirs,” says Coach Montoney.

The Stingrays and Wolves also look to work together on creating charity events to not only bring awareness to their teams but also to bring attention to the needs of so many in the local community.  “It is exciting to have another team in the area that we can now play charity games against, or create fundraising events to help each team”, says Jay Lawrence. “It was hard to get anyone to want to commit to that, but since our team and the Wolves are in the UFF, creating these games or events will be a lot easier since it also benefits the league.”

This is exactly what Southwest Florida has lacked for so many years, two exciting programs, separated by the Caloosahatchee River, playing in the same league and competing for the local fan base.  Fans will have the opportunity to pick their favorite team and also battle for good old fashion bragging rights.

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