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Unbeaten Slaughter rolls through CIFL opponents
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff

Former AFL rookie of the year Donovan Morgan has been a huge scoring threat for the Chicago Slaughter.

 

Graham Hill photo/Slaughter

Slaughter quarterback Russ Michna has thrown 55 TD passes in the CIFL this season for the Slaughter.

 

Graham Hill photo/Slaughter

Dennison Robinson was the defensive player of the year in the Arena Football League last season. Now he's flashing his skills for the Slaughter in the CIFL.

 

Graham Hill photo/Slaughter

No team has come close to beating Steve McMichael's Chicago Slaughter unit this season. The Slaughter averages more than 67 points per game.

 

Graham Hill photo/Slaughter

Donovan Morgan has been the favorite receiving target for QB Rush Michna, but he'll miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. The Slaughter signed former Rush star Bobby Sippio to take his place.

 

Graham Hill photo/Slaughter

Linebacker DeJuan Alfonzo has been a disruptive force for the unbeaten Chicago Slaughter this season.

 

Graham Hill photo/Slaughter

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Published: 5/16/2009 12:01 AM

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As we delve into the world of what might be the world's greatest professional indoor football team, let's have Steve McMichael serve as our Chicago Slaughter tour guide.

McMichael, in his third year as the Slaughter's head coach, knows at least half of his job is to draw people inside the Sears Centre to see his undefeated team.

And since the Slaughter's final regular-season home game happens at 7 p.m. Saturday night in Hoffman Estates, the former Bears all-pro defensive tackle cranked up the Mongo-O-Meter this week in an effort to lure new fans.

First, though, let's set the scene for the recent inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame:

Did you know the Slaughter (9-0) average 67.3 points per game - 23.3 more than the next-best offense in the Continental Indoor Football League?

And did you know gun-slinging quarterback Russ Michna, the 1999 Conant graduate who used to run the Chicago Rush offense in the moribund Arena League, has fired 55 touchdown passes in just 250 attempts?

Many of those TDs have gone to former Arena League rookie of the year Donovan Morgan.

But now that Morgan hurt his shoulder and must miss the rest of the regular season, the Slaughter just signed former Rush great Bobby Sippio (who nearly made the Kansas City Chiefs' roster two years ago) to take Morgan's place.

Got all that? Now let's let Mongo go.

"Let me put it this way," McMichael said. "In a pickup game just of the receivers and quarterbacks out on the playground - Russ Michna and our three starting receivers against the Bears starting quarterback and their three receivers - you would think our guys were the Bears' players."

Then he chuckles.

"How 'bout that?"

While it's difficult to imagine Michna stacking up with Jay Cutler - Michna hasn't gone beyond a training-camp look from the St. Louis Rams in his pursuit of the NFL dream - that's hardly the point of the Slaughter and the CIFL.

Cutler's salary for the Bears this year will be $6.5 million. That means he'll make more in one regular-season QUARTER ($101,523) than the Slaughter's entire 21-man roster earns for the 12-game regular season ($75,600).

In short, the Slaughter is comprised of regular guys with full-time jobs - most of whom gleefully accept roughly $250 per game.

"I just love playing football," said lineman Darian Tate, a 29-year-old former Northern Illinois letterman who spends his days as a PE teacher and athletic director at Chicago Math and Science Academy. "A lot of these guys I've been knowing for years."

And those connections help to explain why the Slaughter are dominating the CIFL.

Tate is one of the eight players who were on the Rush's 2006 Arena Bowl champs.

The Slaughter signed Michna not long after the Arena League announced it wouldn't have a 2009 season. Then Michna got on the phone and started working his friends like Morgan and Tate and 2008 Arena defensive player of the year Dennison Robinson.

"We have a great group of guys who came from the Rush," Michna said. "You just call up and say, 'We're having a great time playing some football. I know you miss it. Come and join us.' "

The Slaughter also lured former AFL standouts from the Grand Rapids, Columbus and Orlando franchises. Other CIFL teams (there are eight in the league) don't have any former Arena guys.

That makes the Slaughter akin to the 1927 New York Yankees. For example, they won their opener 84-24. And in last week's 77-47 win over the Rockford entry, Michna set a league record with 9 TD passes.

"We've got a team that can compete with any Arena League team," said Slaughter general manager Alan Perkins. "Heck, we HAVE an Arena League team."

Now it's just a matter of drawing fans the way the Rush did.

For Saturday's regular-season finale, the Slaughter offers a four-pack of tickets for a grand total of $16.

This to witness a ton of touchdowns, a ton of former Bears (Jim McMahon, Richard Dent, Gary Fencik, Jim Osborne and others have promised to show up) and a ton of family-friendly activities that you've come to expect from high-echelon minor-league franchises.

"We're going to be the Kane County Cougars of football, but with better talent," said primary owner Arney Silvestri, a Geneva resident. "We pride ourselves on football. We want to win."

If everything works out the way the Slaughter plans, they'll host a playoff semifinal on June 20 and the CIFL championship game on June 27.

Don't make Mongo come to your house and drag you out to a game.

"To all the football fans out there," McMichael said, "if you guys haven't come to our games yet, how are you gonna feel after we win the championship and you weren't there to experience it as a Chicago football fan?

"You're gonna regret it."