As the Massachusetts Pirates venture into the 2022 season, they can take a moment to reflect on their 2021 Indoor Football League Championship. It was a season where they rewrote the record book both figuratively and literally. It’s expected that a team that was 11-3 in the regular season (winning eight straight games ) and a perfect 3-0 in the postseason, capturing the United Bowl trophy, would post impressive numbers; but the manner in which they accomplished those records is a testament to the players and the organization.
When the Pirates joined the IFL from the pass-happy National Arena League, the big question was, could Massachusetts run the football? Offensive linemen Kendall Baker, Marquis Lucas, IFL All-Rookie Team and All-League Second Team lineman Jarred Thomas, Chaz Wright and All-IFL First Team center Jordan McCray came together to form a unit that would enable running back Justin Stockton to set five All-Time records with 84 attempts for 370 yards (347 net yards rushing) 34.7 yards per game with a long of 29 yards. Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield scored 16 rushing touchdowns which is a single season and a Pirates all-time best.
Bennifield, who went 9-3 as a starter, established a franchise record of 11.91 yards for each completed pass. During the playoffs, the United Bowl Most Valuable Player set Pirates’ postseason records with three rushing touchdowns, six passing scores and 4.7 yards per carry.
First-Team All-IFL receiver Thomas Owens appeared in his second postseason for Massachusetts and ended 2021 as the Pirates All-Time playoff record holder in four categories with 16 receptions for 191 yards, six touchdown receptions and a long catch of 45 yards. He also established the Pirates’ regular season All-Time mark for two-point conversion grabs with four.
The Pirates excelled on special teams in 2021. Laquivonte Gonzalez, an IFL All-Second Team kick returner, set four Massachusetts All-Time records with 45 kick returns for 957 yards with three touchdowns with a long of 57 yards for a score. Gonzalez, who was also an IFL All-Rookie Team selection, was the Pirates second leading receiver and set the team’s All-Time mark averaging 106.6 all purpose yards per game.
The special team superlatives didn’t stop there. Three Pirates’ kickers made contributions to the record book. Ali Mourtada, who holds most of the teams’ kicking records from his 2018 season in Massachusetts, made the Pirates longest field goal ever; a 54 yarder vs. the Spokane Shock. In that contest he also established the mark for kicking points in a game with 15.
Josh Gable, who led all IFL kickers averaging 8.16 kicking points through all contests, connected on 52.6 percent of his field goal attempts to set a Pirates’ All-Time regular season mark and former Super Bowl Champion Garrett Hartley, who handled the kicking duties in the playoffs, set five postseason records including making four of seven field goal attempts for a percentage of 57.1.
Defensively, the Pirates allowed a franchise best 33.0 points per game during the regular season. In the postseason that number was reduced to just 25 points per contest. In the playoff run, several All-Time team records were established, including the following. All-IFL Second Team linebacker Martrell Spaight recorded 21 tackles. He along with Toby Johnson, an All-IFL First Team selection, notched 2.5 sacks. Defensive backs Aarion Maxey-Penton and Harlan Miller, an All-IFL First-Team choice, each had a pair of interceptions with both recording a “pick-six.” Defensive lineman Da’Sean Downey, who recently re-signed with the IFL champions for the 2022 season, established the record for tackles for a loss with 4.5.
For defensive back Chucky Williams and defensive lineman JD Griggs, both All-IFL Second Team selections, the 2021 championship season saw them become Pirates’ All-Time leaders in several categories.
Williams, who has four career fumble recoveries after two seasons, is the team’s All-Time leader with 68 solo tackles and 100.5 total stops. Griggs, who is the Massachusetts leader in games played with 39, is called “The Sack King” for good reason. Griggs tops the charts with 20.5 sacks and sack yardage with 114 yards. He also has the most quarterback hurries with 15. Griggs is the Pirates’ All-Time leader with 27.5 tackles for a loss for 169.5 yards.
The 2021 United Bowl Champions; Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at Phoenix Field at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA, 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508)452-MASS (6277), email email@example.com or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. For 2022 season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277) or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com/tickets. Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates