By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – The West Michigan Ironmen are once again heading into a new season preparing to compete in a new league.
The Ironmen, a Muskegon-based professional indoor football team, recently announced  that they will be playing in the American Arena League (AAL) this spring.
It will be the team’s fourth league in its four seasons of existence.
The Ironmen competed in the American Indoor Football (AIF) league in 2016, the Champions Indoor Football (CIF) league in 2017 and the Midwest Professional Indoor Football (MPIF) league in 2018.
The 2018 season turned out very well for the team, which claimed the MPIF championship by beating the Midwest Marauders 68-44 last April.
West Michigan will open the 2019 season at home on March 9 against the Illinois Renegades in an out-of-league game.
The Ironmen will play another eight games after their opener, with four games at home at L.C. Walker Arena, and four away.
The full schedule has yet to be released by the league.
West Michigan is one of four teams that will join the AAL this season. Those four new teams – the other three have yet to be identified – will comprise the league’s Central Division.
The AAF has 12 other teams, forming three other four-team divisions.
The New Jersey Flight, West Virginia Roughriders, Burgh Defenders and New England Bobcats make up the Northern Division.
The High Country Grizzles, Cape Fear Heroes, Carolina Havoc and Carolina Predators are part of the Mid-Atlantic Division.
The Georgia Doom, Carolina Energy, Peach State Cats and Carolina Cowboyz comprise the Southern Division.
This is the second year of existence for the AAL. The Carolina Havoc won the inaugural league title last June.
The Ironmen will have a new head coach leading the team this year. General Manager Nate Smith will replace Ty Lynk on the sidelines. Lynk was the team’s only head coach through its first four seasons.
Several familiar players are expected to return to the West Michigan lineup, including quarterback Alex Carder, running back Dakota Smith, wide receiver Carrington Thompson and defensive lineman Nick Dekrakker.