West Michigan Ironmen hosting exhibition game Sunday at L.C. Walker Arena

By Steve Gunn

MUSKEGON – For months, the West Michigan Ironmen have just been a concept – something new and exciting coming to Muskegon.LSJ Logo incert

But that concept will become a reality on Sunday, when the Ironmen hit the field at L.C. Walker Arena for their first exhibition game, and the first game of any type, in franchise history.

The Ironmen will be playing the Atlanta Vultures, with kickoff slated for 3:15 p.m. Tickets are $15 for front row seats and $6 for all others.Ironmen logo featured

The team will kick off its regular season on March 13 in Missouri against the River City Raiders. The regular season home opener will be March 20 against the Northern Kentucky Nightmare at 3:15 p.m.

The Ironmen, a member of a league called American Indoor Football, have been quietly working out for three weeks, mostly in Grand Rapids. But with the first game just a few days away, there’s a sense of excitement about launching a new venture in Muskegon, according to Ironmen head coach Ty Lynk.

“It’s a surreal feeling knowing we’re getting ready to start something new here,” said Lynk, a 1985 graduate of Orchard View High School. “I’ve got a feeling we’re going to put on a pretty good show on Sunday.”

The Ironmen will dress 21 players for the game. The majority of those players, as well as Lynk, are new to indoor football, which features an 8-on-8 format and a 50-yard field.

But Lynk thinks most of them have made the adjustment from traditional football and will be ready to play.

“This is my first experience with indoor football,” said Lynk, who is an assistant coach with the Kalamazoo College football team in the fall. ”I’ve met with a lot of people and researched the game. I’ve probably watched more film in the last 12 weeks than I ever have in a year.

Ironmen head coach Tyree Link

Ironmen head coach Tyree Lynk. Photo/Jason Goorman

“The game is different. It’s football in a shoebox. You’ve got to have a good football IQ because things happen a lot faster, and the rules are definitely different.

“It’s like a combination of fast-paced basketball and football. We’ve taken the time to get the guys adjusted to the game, and they’re doing very well.”

Lynk thinks he might have a pretty good team, with significant talent on both sides of the ball.

“I’m extremely happy,” Lynk said. “I think the biggest thing is that the team chemistry has come together so fast. That usually takes time for any team, let alone an expansion team.

“I would challenge any team in this league with the offensive skill we have. We’re a fast team, and have a lot of skill on the defensive side, too.

“We’re extremely ready. I don’t know how much more we can do other than get out of the field and compete against other teams.”

There will be some familiar names for local fans in the starting lineup on Sunday, including wide receivers Ronald Johnson and Corey Johnson, two brothers who starred together at Muskegon High School.

Ronald Johnson went on to play at the University of Southern California while Corey Johnson played at Troy University.

Another local starter will be linebacker Derek VandenBosch, who played at Orchard View High School and the University of St. Francis.

“He’s a very physical, aggressive kid,” Lynk said about VandenBosch.

The offense will be led by veteran quarterback Alex Carder, who played college football at Western Michigan University.

“He started out at WMU and set a lot of records,” Lynk said about Carder. “He also has a significant amount of indoor experience. He is very athletic, has a good arm and makes good decisions. He’s really like another coach on the field.”

The starting running back will be Ferris State grad Korey Ringer, the nephew of former Michigan State standout Javon Ringer, who was recently signed by the Ironmen.

“He’s a very shifty, very aggressive runner with great vision,” Lynk said.


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