Professional football is back in Toledo for a third straight spring.
The Toledo Spitfire, of the National Women's Football League, tangles with the Baltimore Burn in its home opener at 7 tonight at Rossford High School.
The Spitfire's eight-game regular season commenced with a road game at the Cincinnati Sizzle on April 16. The Spitfire lost 43-6.
Yet, optimism is high for Toledo to produce its best season to date. Toledo finished 3-5 a year ago, an improvement from the opening season when the Spitfire posted a 2-6 record under coach Jerry Davis.
"We're predicted to make the playoffs this year," said Spitfire assistant coach Steve Ward, who also serves as the team's marketing director. "Offensively, we have a strong running attack."
Running back Jessie Torda and wide receiver Heather Inderrieden are the top returners on offense. Torda rushed for 575 yards and eight touchdowns last spring. Torda produced the Spitfire's only score against the Sizzle in this year's opener when she returned a kickoff 64 yards for a touchdown. Inderrieden caught 24 passes for 418 yards, including six for touchdowns last season.
The offense has been placed in the hands of first-year quarterback Cathy Yungmann.
Middle linebacker Amanda Thames, who has been named an NWFL defensive all-star the past two seasons, leads the defense. She recorded three sacks in the loss to the Sizzle, owned by former Cincinnati Bengals running back Ickey Woods. Defensive back Joy Youster is coming off an 18-tackle performance against the Sizzle.
The NWFL started in 2001 with 12 teams and has continued to grow. A total of 36 teams are located throughout 26 states, including four in Ohio. Besides Toledo and Cincinnati, teams are also based in Cleveland and Columbus.
The NWFL championship game will be held in Louisville on July 30.
All Spitfire home games will be replayed on Buckeye Cable Sports Network (BCSN).