QB Alex Carder says Ironmen teammates are catching on to the indoor game quickly

By Steve Gunn

MUSKEGON – West Michigan Ironmen quarterback Alex Carder has been around indoor football for a few years, and he can tell when a team is headed in the right direction.LSJ Logo incert

He saw definite progress on March 20, when the Ironmen played their first regular season home game against the Northern Kentucky Nightmare.

A week earlier, the Ironmen had built a big lead against the River City Raiders in St. Charles Missouri, only to have the Raiders rally in the second half and steal the victory in the regular season opener.

Against Northern Kentucky, the Ironmen jumped out to another big lead, then the visitors rallied and pulled within five points, 42-37, early in the fourth quarter.

Ironmen QB Alex Carder drops back after the snap. Photo/Tim Reilly

Ironmen QB Alex Carder drops back after the snap. Photo/Tim Reilly

But the Ironmen responded differently than they did against River City.

Carder threw three touchdown passes to Donovan Campbell down the stretch – for 5, 16 and 21 yards, respectively – to help the team pull away for a 65-37 victory.

Suddenly the Ironmen had their first regular season win and a new lease on life.

Now, after a week off, the Ironmen will try to build in their success when they host the Chicago Blitz Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at L.C. Walker Arena. Chicago, a Midwestern Division foe, is 1-0 on the season.

“I think you learn a lot about a team between weeks one and two,” said Carder, who completed 16 of 30 passes for 192 yards and seven touchdowns against Northern Kentucky. “I was pleased with the adjustments we made, both offensively and defensively.

“We had a few three-and-outs (on offense) that weren’t expected in the second half, and our defense stepped up and made some great stops for us. I think we held them to nine points in the second half. Kudos to those guys. It was their time to shine.”

Carder drops back to pass in season opener against River City.

Carder prepares for the pass in season opener against River City.

Carder said the Ironmen are doing extremely well, considering a majority of the roster is new to indoor football this season.

“We continue to grow each and every week,” he said. “We have so many guys with no experience in indoor football and we’ve been facing some veteran teams that know this game. I think you’ll see vast improvements in this team as the weeks go by.”

Carder, 26, did not have indoor football in mind when he wrapped up his college football career at Western Michigan University in 2012. He had his sights set on the National Football League, for good reason.

He put up some eye-opening passing numbers at WMU, including his junior year, when he threw for 3,434 yards. In one game against Toledo he threw for 548 yards and seven touchdowns, which was a new Mid-American Conference record.

He had opportunities with several NFL teams, including a short training stint with the Detroit Lions. But a lingering injury to a finger on this throwing hand, which occurred in his senior year of college, affected his game, and he failed to catch on with a team.

So he ended up playing professional indoor football with several different teams – the Nashville Venom, Jacksonville Sharks and Portland Thunder – before signing with the Ironmen this year.

Alex Carder makes the past for West Michigan in their preseason opener against Atlanta. Photo/Tim Reilly

Alex Carder makes the past for West Michigan in their preseason opener against Atlanta. Photo/Tim Reilly

Somewhere along the line he fell in love with the indoor game, which is played on a 50-yard field and involves a great deal of passing. That doesn’t mean he wants to play indoor forever, but he’s enjoying the experience.

“My skillset and strengths are a quick release, quick feet and making fast decisions, and the arena game is built for that, said Carder, who also played a season in the Canadian Football League.

“I’ve found success, I’m having a good time doing it, and it keeps me in the game. I still hope and dream of playing the game I grew up playing, but for now arena football keeps in in the right kind of shape to get back to that level. It’s about getting reps and improving my craft right now.”

Carder is also interested in playing for a winner, and he sees a lot of potential in the Ironmen, despite the team’s lack of indoor experience.

“I would say the skill level stacks up surprisingly well,” Carder said. “Rony Nelson (an Ironmen defensive lineman) has been around arena football as long as I have, and he had a chance to move up to a higher league this year, but he decided to stick with us. That’s a testament to the kind of situation we have here.”

Carder is particularly pleased with the receiving corps, which has been hauling in touchdown passes as fast as he can throw them. The group is led by Campbell, who caught nine passes for 139 yards in the home opener, including six of the team’s nine touchdowns.

“I couldn’t be happier with the receiving crew right now,” said Carder, who resides in Grand Rapids. “Things change so fast in this game, in terms of what you’re given from a defensive standpoint, and these guys have all done really well. Starting with Donovan Campbell, who’s one of the team captains, and Justin Mott and the Johnson brothers (Ronald Johnson and Corey Johnson). They’ve been extremely dedicated.

“They appreciate the experience I bring to the table and they’re always picking my brain on how to get better, which makes my job easier.”

Alex Carder runs on the field during opening productions of the Ironmen preseason opener. Photo/Tim Reilly

Alex Carder runs on the field during opening productions of the Ironmen preseason opener. Photo/Tim Reilly



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