Statement from Commanders’ Mike Riley, Daryl Johnston, Vic Gregovits

From a Commanders news release

On behalf of all of us with the San Antonio Commanders organization, we were shocked and incredibly disappointed to learn of the Boards’ decision to suspend football operations.

Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian delivered a quality football product that fans nationally were watching on TV, online, and here in San Antonio on each and every game day.

While all startups encounter some challenges, we believed ours could be addressed in the offseason, after a successful completion to our first season.

We are grateful to our players, coaches, staff, corporate partners, and especially our fans that supported us from the moment our team was announced through the record-setting attendance — San Antonio proved to be the best fans in The Alliance time and time again.

We hope to be able to share information from The Alliance about ticket refunds in the future.

Thank you for your support and for believing in us.

Sincerely,

Mike Riley, Head Coach
Daryl Johnston, General Manager
Vic Gregovits, Team President

Commanders fall to Hotshots – photo gallery part 2

Commanders cornerback Duke Thomas (21) breaks up a pass intended for Hotshots wide receiver Rashad Ross on Sunday at the Alamodome. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders cornerback Duke Thomas (21) breaks up a pass intended for Hotshots wide receiver Rashad Ross on Sunday at the Alamodome. – photo by Joe Alexander
The San Antonio Commanders’ four-game win streak ended Sunday with a home-field 23-6 loss to the Arizona Hotshots at the Alamodome.

The Commanders turn around with a short week. They play the Memphis Express on Saturday at 11 a.m. (Central) at the Alamodome. The Express are coming off a 34-31 loss to the Orlando Apollos.

Commanders QB Logan Woodside on physical game vs. Stallions

Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside passed for 164 yards and a touchdown and was sacked six times and threw one interception in Saturday's 19-15 victory over the Stallions. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside passed for 164 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s 19-15 victory over the Stallions. – photo by Joe Alexander
Word around the San Antonio Commanders last week was that the Salt Lake Stallions had a defensive front as good as any in the AAF.

Logan Woodside got a first-hand look at the Stallions’ defense and pass rush on Saturday. The Stallions caught up to Woodside at times and the Commanders’ quarterback was on the sidelines at the end of the game with a sore left shoulder.

Marquise Williams was in at quarterback when the Commanders scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of a 19-15 victory.

“I think I got like kind of a stinger,” Woodside said. “And it was lucky. It’s a good thing we had Quise come in, make some plays and help us go down there and score and win that game for sure.”

Woodside was sacked six times for 37 yards in losses. Mike Purcell, a 327-pound defensive tackle, led the Stallions with two sacks.

“It was tough man,” Woodside said. “The whole (AAF) West side, all of the D lines and defenses are really tough. So it was a big challenge for us. I tried to do the best I could to escape from the pocket and make some plays down field. But they were getting at us pretty quick. I’ve just got to do a better job of getting it out quicker.”

Woodside completed 13-of-19 passes for 164 yards with one interception. He threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Mekale McKay in the first quarter to give the Commanders a 6-3 lead.

Commanders wrap up road stretch with victory over Legends

image from Twitter.com @aafcommanders

Editor’s note: This story was updated Sunday night after the Birmingham Iron beat the San Diego Fleet 32-29

The San Antonio Commanders wrapped up the dreaded four-game road stretch of their schedule with their third straight victory and return home at the top of the standings.

The Commanders defense came up with a series of big plays for the second week in a row as they knocked off the Atlanta Legends 37-6 on Sunday at Georgia State Stadium.

The Commanders (4-2) went 3-1 on the road stretch of the schedule. They play at the Alamodome on Sunday at 7 p.m. (Central) against the Salt Lake Stallions (2-4). The Commanders have sole possession of first place in the AAF West. San Diego and Salt Lake are both 3-3.

“We just finished 3-1 on the road on a four-game road trip, which I think is pretty impressive for us,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “We’ve got a chance to go back and play a really good Salt Lake team back in San Antonio. We’re excited about going back and playing in the Dome.”

Commanders defensive backs De’Vante Bausby, Zack Sanchez and Derron Smith all came up with interceptions. Smith had an interception return for a touchdown for a second straight week. Duke Thomas added a first-half fumble recovery.

The Commanders scored touchdowns after their first three takeaways.

“We’ve got some good players and they made plays today,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “They’re athletic and they’re savvy. Derron Smith is a very unique football player.
(Zack) Sanchez made another interception. Those guys, if you make a mistake around them, they’re going to make you pay. They play with a lot of confidence.

“Getting turnovers is one thing. Being able to capitalize with points, that was really the game today. We got the ball in some good situations for our offense. We did take advantage of it and made it count got a good early lead because of it.”

Greg Ward Jr. gave the Commanders a special teams score when he returned a punt for a league-record 79-yard touchdown. The Commanders’ offense did not have any turnovers.

“I was really proud of our team today,” Riley said. “I think we kind of stayed on top of it. It was fun to see basically all the parts of our team, offense, defense, and special teams all contribute to winning the game. It was definitely a team win, a team effort.”

Woodside completed 17 of 23 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

“I think it’s just another week with this offense and these guys,” said Woodside, who was the AAF offensive player of the week last week. “I just tried to take it personal to study more and try to do everything I can in practice to make myself better. Obviously with the defense we have it have makes it tough on us in practice. So it always good to to go against those guys every week.”

Wide receiver Mekale McKay and tight end Evan Rodriguez had the Commanders’ touchdown catches. Tight end Cam Clear led the team in receptions with five for 45 yards.

“What we hoped to do is run the ball OK. We didn’t really run the ball as well as we wanted to today,” Riley said. “But we ran. We like to run.

“Then we like to have play-action passes that go down the field. Then we need some ball-control passes. One of the best things about our game at least early in the game, we hit some consistent ball-control routes that got some first downs for us. We kept the ball for a long time in the first half.”

Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow scored the first touchdown of the game to make it 6-0 in the first quarter. That was set up by Thomas’ fumble recovery.

The Legends tried to get even on their next drive when they went for a deep pass. The Commanders’ Smith and Bausby were there to break it up.

Sanchez had his interception later in the first quarter. That set the stage for Woodside’s touchdown pass and two-point conversion pass both to McKay to make it 14-0. The Commanders kept that drive going when Woodside completed a fourth-down pass to Clear.

The Commanders defense came up with its third takeaway of the first half on Bausby’s interception. This time Woodside threw a touchdown pass to Evan Rodriguez and the Commanders led 20-0.

The Legends scored a touchdown late in the first half for what turned out to be their only points of the game.

Ward’s punt return for the touchdown extended the Commanders’ lead to 26-6 with 1:00 left in the half.

Nick Rose, who has not missed this season, kicked a field goal on the Commanders’ first possession of the second half to make it 29-6.

Both offenses were held in check the rest of the way. The final touchdown of the game came on Smith’s 87-yard interception return with 8:40 remaining.

Mike Riley on the Commanders’ defense and interceptions

San Antonio Commanders coach Mike Riley (left) and general manager Daryl Johnston on Wednesday at Central Catholic High School in the team's first practice since Sunday's road victory over the Arizona Hotshots. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders coach Mike Riley (left) and general manager Daryl Johnston on Wednesday at Central Catholic High School in the team’s first practice since Sunday’s road victory over the Arizona Hotshots. – photo by Joe Alexander
The San Antonio Commanders’ first road game of the season resulted in a loss to the San Diego Fleet that saw the defense get burned for big plays.

In the last two games the Commanders defense has not only shown the ability to clamp down, but has been producing turnovers. In those two games, the Commanders came up with road victories including a 29-25 win over the Arizona Hotshots. The Commanders had three interceptions in the first half against Arizona. Strong safety Derron Smith had two of those, including one he returned for the first touchdown of the game.

“I think what everybody knows, sometimes you have to get burned a little bit to bring you back to earth,” Commanders head coach Mike Riley said. “While you want to in every way be aggressive, I coached the secondary for for a long time so I understand the mentality and I like it, but you have to be able to blend in that aggressiveness with really, really doing your job. If your job is the deep third, you have to play the deep third. If your job is man to man, you can’t give up the big one.

“So many times football is about what you can’t have happen. The secondary there is no better place to describe it than that.”

Four Commanders defensive backs have multiple interceptions on the season. Cornerback De’Vante Bausby is tied for the league lead with three and cornerback Zack Sanchez and safeties Orion Stewart and Smith have two each.

“I think there are some guys a lot of them with good instincts,” Riley said. “Everybody has the assignment. Like in the secondary everyone has a job like a man or an area. But there’s also a special guy called an interceptor. They don’t all have that quality. Sometimes you get a great cover guy who really doesn’t have many interceptions. A bump and run guy who is in their face and you don’t see the guy catch many balls but you don’t get many turnovers from him. So there is a tradeoff. And that’s a good tradeoff.

“But the other guy you can sometimes have some vision on the quarterback while he’s doing his job. That was a great example of Derron Smith the other day. He really was just playing an area. The quarterback extended. He had his eye on him the whole way and the quarterback obviously didn’t see him. Some guys have instincts. They’re opportunistic. They’re aggressive. A like all those parts.”

In the case of Smith, he not only made the interception on the Hotshots’ first drive, his 66-yard return produced the first points of the game. The Commanders took a lead even before their first possession and led the rest of the game.

San Antonio Commanders vs. Arizona Hotshots preview

San Antonio Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II at practice on Friday at Central Catholic High School as the team prepared for today's meeting with the Arizona Hotshots. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II at practice on Friday at Central Catholic High School as the team prepared for today’s meeting with the Arizona Hotshots. – photo by Joe Alexander
When the San Antonio Commanders walk off the field tonight, their regular season will be half over.

If the Commanders win their road game against the Arizona Hotshots, they will be tied for the lead in the AAF West. A Commanders loss would leave them in a second-place tie but only a game above last place.

“I’m just excited for this next game,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “We know it’s a big game, a really good opponent in Arizona. We’ll be ready to go.”

The Commanders (2-2) and Hotshots (2-2) play at 7 p.m. Central time at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

(TV on NFL Network, radio in San Antonio on ESPN SA AM-1250)

The San Diego Fleet (3-2), playing a day head of the Commanders and Hotshots, got a field goal on the final play of the game to beat the Salt Lake Stallions and jump to the top of the West standings.

The Commanders are coming off a 12-11 road victory over the Birmingham Iron in which the Commanders got a dominating performance from running back Kenneth Farrow II. The Commanders also had the advantage in turnovers against the Iron.

The Commanders are likely to push for another big running game tonight.

“It is very important that we find the runs we need in the game,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “If we take care of the football and we run the ball well we have a good chance to win.”

The Hotshots’ offense is directed by quarterback John Wolford, who is completing 61.2 percent of his passes in the first four games for 780 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions. He will face the Commanders defense that leads the AAF in quarterback sacks.

The Hotshots’ running backs collectively average 4.8 yards per carry but have only one rushing touchdown. Jhurell Pressley is their top ball carrier with 266 yards and 4.9 yards per carry.

“They’re pretty multiple offensively,” Riley said. “They are probably more (run-pass options) than anybody that we’ll see. They have an active quarterback. He’s a good kind of a slick operator with that stuff. ”

The Hotshots’ head coach is former San Antonio Gunslingers quarterback Rick Neuheisel. This will be the fifth meating for Riley and Neuheisel as head coaches with the first four all coming in college games in the Pac-12. Both coaches have won two of those meetings.

“Rick is a great coach, a great guy,” Riley said. “I’m really proud to be in the league with him. I know they’ll have a good team, well prepared. We’re going to have to play well to beat them.”

Logan Woodside, Mike Riley on Commanders’ win over Iron

San Antonio Commanders quarterbacks Logan Woodside (10), Marquise Williams (12) and Logan Woodside (5) at practice at Central Catholic High School on Wednesday as they prepared for the Arizona Hotshots in the fifth game of the season. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders quarterbacks Logan Woodside (10), Marquise Williams (12) and Logan Woodside (5) at practice at Central Catholic High School on Wednesday as they prepared for the Arizona Hotshots in the fifth game of the season. – photo by Joe Alexander
The San Antonio Commanders’ 12-11 victory over the Birmingham Iron on Sunday did more than snap the team out of a two-game losing streak.

The Commanders are now 1-1 on the road and 2-2 overall, putting them in a tie for the lead in the AAF West.

“There’s three of in the West that are 2-2,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “Every victory right now is really kind of important for that inching ahead.”

The Commanders earned their victory over the Iron by running the ball and putting together some long drives. Having to string together drives came in large part because they were often taking over the ball around the 10-yard line. The Commanders got their first possession at the 9, and drove far enough to get a Nick Rose field goal and a 3-0 lead.

“The first drive of last week, we didn’t get a touchdown but we came away with three points,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “We held the ball for a while. I think that’s good for us because it gets our defense a chance to rest.

“The punter did a really good job. He had a really good leg. It’s tough but we had to start from the 10-yard line a few times. It’s just up to the offense to make plays and not make mistakes and go down and try to put points on the board.”

The offense chewed up the clock largely on the 30 carries for a league-record 142 yards by running back Kenneth Farrow II. Trey Williams also saw a little action at running back and ran for a touchdown.

“I think we came out and established the run game,” Woodside said. “The O line and Ken (Farrow) did a great job throughout the game and really made it easy on me. I was really happy and proud of those guys and proud of Ken for sure.

“I just had to do my job. I can’t control how the plays are called. When they are just execute them to the best of my ability. Had to make a few checks throughout the game in the run game. I think that helped us out, so it was good. I think that’s something I pride myself on during the week is getting the right looks and getting the run game because that can really help us out a lot.”

The Commanders’ defense held the Iron to one touchdown and also came up with critical turnovers. The turnover battle, which had hurt the Commanders in the their two losses, worked out on San Antonio’s side on Sunday.

“We were running the ball. It was really close to the vest,” Riley said. “One mistake by either team was probably going to lose the game. That’s what happened. They turned the ball over to over and we won the game.”

Wednesday’s practice at Central Catholic was the first for the team since Sunday’s game. The positive feeling from the victory seemed to carry over into practice.

“It was hard and we had to fight to win and everybody feels good when that happens,” Riley said. “It was a good football team, very, very solid Birmingham. So it took everything to beat them. I think they feel good about that because they know our team prepared well and we played hard – really hard – in that game.”

Kenneth Farrow II powers Commanders past Iron

Image via Twitter from @aafcommanders

Kenneth Farrow II rushed for an AAF-record 142 yards to power the San Antonio Commanders to a 12-11 victory over the previously undefeated Birmingham Iron on Sunday in Birmingham.

The Commanders (2-2) snapped a two-game losing streak and earned the first road victory in franchise history. The Iron fell to 3-1.

“The Iron have a good, solid football team,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “They are very, very sound and physical. They are really hard to score against when you get down in the red zone, as everybody saw. Both teams had to fight to the end and I was real proud that we won the game.”

Farrow, the Commanders’ leading ball carrier on the season, started at running back against the Iron and had the bulk of the carries. Trey Williams also saw some action at running back. The Commanders finished with 161 rushing yards as a team.

“Ken is a good solid player,” Riley said. “We have good running backs. Ken is a good example of that group and had a very special night. He ran hard, worked hard. All of it was hard. The game was hard. It was physical, hard football.”

Farrow had a big part in the Commanders’ only touchdown drive of the game in the third quarter. Williams finished the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run that put the Commanders up 9-3.

The Commanders got their best starting field position of the game in the fourth quarter after a fumble recovery. Nick Rose kicked a 20-yard field goal with 3:58 left to extend the Commanders’ lead to 12-3. That field goal came after the Iron stuffed a series of Commanders running plays on a goal-line stand.

“Birmingham has been the leading red zone defense in the league,” Riley said. “We just about tried it all. We’re just going to have to go back and look at it again. At some point you have to block them to get into the end zone. We didn’t. They stopped us and that’s what kept the game interesting all the way down to the end.”

Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside completed 11-of-25 passes for 106 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

“I thought Logan did a great job of competing and making some plays and doing some things we needed to do,” Riley said. “We didn’t throw the ball as effectively throughout the game as we wanted to. That was due both to the way the game was going and what we tried to do with the football when we got it, which was run the ball primarily.

“Also the pressure he got made it tough to make some throws. And then we hit some big throws. On one in particular we got a penalty, which was crazy bad timing.”

The Commanders scaled back some of the rotations they used in earlier games. Instead of using three running backs, the stuck with Farrow and Williams. And Marquise Williams, who saw time at quarterback the previous two games, was not involved in this game.

The Iron made the game close late. Trent Richardson scored on a 1-yard run with 1:41 remaining. Luis Perez threw for the two-point conversion to cut the Commanders’ lead to one point.

In the AAF’s substitute for an on-side kick, Commanders safety Orion Stewart made an interception to end the Iron’s last hope.

The Commanders have two more road games before returning to the Alamodome. Next up is the Arizona Hotshots on Sunday at 7 p.m. Central (NFL Network).

Images from Twitter.com
@aafcommanders

Commanders vs. Iron: No room for mistakes

Kenneth Farrow II scored the Commanders' first touchdown of the game on a 15-yard run on Sunday against the Orlando Apollos. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II has run for a touchdown the last two games in a row. – photo by Joe Alexander
Ask the San Antonio Commanders about the Birmingham Iron and a theme appears:

The Iron don’t make mistakes.

If you want to beat the Iron, you can’t make mistakes.

“I think they forced more punts than anybody in the league,” Commanders coach Mike Riley. “Then they’re just really, really solid. I think that’s their team. That’s why they’re undefeated.

“They’ve been in pretty close games. But they’ve won them because they haven’t beat themselves. I’m sorry to say we’ve beat ourselves. We’ve thrown two touchdown interceptions. Then we’ve had too many penalties. That’s kind of been the difference in the games.”

The Commanders (1-2) and Iron (3-0) play Sunday at 3 p.m. Central time. The game is televised on CBS Sports Network.

The Birmingham defense has made five interceptions, including two by Jamar Summers. The Iron defense allows a league-low 7.0 points per game. The Iron have given up only one rushing touchdown this season and no runs longer than 24 yards.

“Really good defense,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “They have a really good linebacker corps. In the secondary they move around a whole lot. It will be a big challenge for us. I know they’re coached really well. So it will be fun to go down there and play against them.”

Birmingham quarterback Luis Perez has had modest stats but avoided turnovers. In three games he has thrown 102 passes with only one interception and no touchdowns. Woodside has thrown two touchdown passes this season, but also five interceptions including two that were returned for touchdowns.

“We’ve got too many mistakes, too many critical mistakes,” Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston said. “Some of these interceptions are game-changers. The two pick-sixes really changed the flow of that game each time. We gave up points in the red zone on another interceptions. Not only are they interceptions, but they’ve been costly.”

The Iron haven’t been putting up big rushing numbers either. Running back Trent Richardson, the most high profile player on the team, averages only 2.5 yards per carry. But Richardson has been tough to stop in short-yardage situations and has six rushing touchdowns. He has also caught 10 passes.

The Commanders have a stronger overall running game this season at 149.0 yards per game and 4.81 yards per carry. Kenneth Farrow II has run for two touchdowns. Trey Williams made his season debut last week and averaged 10.7 yards per carry.

But for the last two weeks, the Commanders have been hurt by turnovers and penalties and wound up with losses.

“I think we’ve had a good week,” Riley said. “I think the reaction to the last loss has actually been a good one by this group as far as their work. I think we’ve had three of our better practices of the year.

“That’s what a loss will do for you once in a while. I think enthusiasm for the work was maybe at a little higher level.”

A road victory Sunday would even the Commanders’ record to 2-2. A loss would give them a three-game losing streak with two more road games coming up before the team returns to the Alamodome.

“I think there is obviously a sense of urgency,” Riley said. “Nobody likes losing. I think the only way to dig is out of it is to really, really work at preparing and getting ready to play and the attitude is really the key to that preparation and preparation is the key to how you’re going to play. How you play is if you’re going to win. It dominoes.”

Commanders’ Mike Riley on trying to turn things around after two losses

Commanders defensive back Orion Stewart returns an interception during Wednesday's practice at Central Catholic High School. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders defensive back Orion Stewart returns an interception during Wednesday’s practice at Central Catholic High School. – photo by Joe Alexander
When the San Antonio Commanders’ schedule was released, the stretch of four-straight road games immediately stuck out as the toughest stretch the team was likely to face.

That made the first two home games look crucial to build momentum before the team hit the road.

Now the Commanders are three games into the season, have lost two straight and have dropped their first game of the road stretch. On Wednesday they were back on the practice field for the first time since Sunday’s 31-11 loss to the San Diego Fleet.

“I think we had a pretty good day today,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “I think one of the most important things about reacting to a game and I guess specifically a loss is you can look at some stuff on how we can do it better and have concrete evidence about that and show them that, put in a new game plan and go back to work. That’s the best remedy for getting out of a hole.”

The Commanders have had issues on both sides of the ball. In both the season-opening victory and in Sunday’s loss, the offense recorded only one touchdown. Riley said Logan Woodside, the starter at quarterback the first three games of the season, will start again in Week 4.

On Sunday against the Fleet, the Commanders got a boost on offense from running back Trey Williams. The former Texas A&M star sat out the first two games of the season. In San Diego, he carried the ball seven times for 75 yards.

“We’re obviously glad to get Trey back,” Riley said. “Trey looked good and he was productive. I think everybody saw his explosiveness. He’s got real speed and he hit the edge a couple times and not only had speed around the edge, he made some people miss, which was great.”

The Commanders’ defensive concerns revolve around allowing explosive plays the last two weeks.

“We go along pretty good for a while and we give up a big play and it’s a killer,” Riley said. “We’ve just got to be better on not giving up on big plays.”