Those players are expected to continue to fill in as the Force (3-7) completes its 2011 season over the next two weeks with games at Alabama on Saturday and June 11 at the Crown Coliseum against Richmond. Tickets for the final game are available at the Crown Center box office.
“It’s a go and we’re still playing,” Crown Center general manager Karen Long said Wednesday when asked about the season finale.
Fans attending that game will need a new roster to figure out who they’re watching.
All the original Force players have signed with new teams, or are in limbo since New Jersey attorney and sports agent Andrew Bondarowicz sold the franchise late last month.
At least three former Force players – quarterback Lamar Little, wide receiver Chris Schubert and defensive back Jerome Mann – played against their old squad with the Carolina Speed last Saturday in Charlotte.
John Morris, who heads a group that also owns the SIFL’s Harrisburg Stampede, purchased the team from Bondarowicz. Morris is also the co-founder of the American Indoor Football Association in which the city’s previous arena franchise, the Fayetteville Guard, played in during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. The AIFA merged with the SIFL in 2011.
Former Force players said then-coach Charles Gunnings informed them during a team meeting May 16 that Bondarowicz had sold the team.
“At the time there was an opportunity for some guys, if they wanted to play, they could,” said former defensive lineman Quincy Malloy. “But they were not going to be paid (to play). Coach Gunnings left it to the individual guys to make the decision for themselves.
“But further on in the week we heard Mr. Morris already had a team in place. To avoid any controversy, he decided to go with the other team.”
The news was tough, especially for veterans like Malloy.
“It was heartbreaking,” he said. “This pretty much is the end for me. I’m officially retired. But I didn’t want to go out this way.”
Attempts to reach Morris on Wednesday were unsuccessful. A message on Morris’ cellphone said he wasn’t accepting calls at this time.
A phone call to SIFL commissioner Gary Tuffer also wasn’t returned Wednesday.
Bondarowicz still owns the lease for the team to play in the Crown Coliseum, according to Long. But she said discussions had already begun with Bondarowicz and Morris about renewing the lease for the 2012 season.
“I know he’s (Bondaro-wicz) been in discussion with Mr. Morris, and we’ve been in the loop quite a bit with that,” Long said. “Our intention is to finish out this season and we’re looking forward to having football next season.
“He (Morris) likes Fayette-ville very much, and he likes the building.”
Regardless of who is wearing the Force uniform for the final home game, Malloy said he’ll be in attendance.
“I’ll be in the stands,” Malloy said. “It will be interesting.”