HARRISBURG -- What a difference a year makes.
The Harrisburg Stampede struggled mightily last season and promptly fired its head coach after an 0-6 start.
That coach, Bernie Nowotarski is back; Nowotarski has led Harrisburg to a 5-0 record and the team is tied for first place in American Indoor Football.
It may be the best story in all of indoor football.
Harrisburg's success this season is a result of its defense, Nowotarski said Tuesday night during Harrisburg's practice at the PA Farm Show Complex. In a sport where teams can easily score 60-to-70 points, the Stampede has allowed an average of 19 points/game.
"I don't know in my eight years of doing this I've been with a defense like this," said Nowotarski, who won a national title coaching Reading in 2009. "They swarm to every ball; on a run or a pass. They're physical. They're fast.
"It's really one of the best defenses I've ever been associated with."
Harrisburg will face a familiar foe on Saturday at the Farm Show. The Tri-State Redhawks lost to Harrisburg two weeks ago by a score of 80-15. Nowotarski believes the Redhawks will provide a much stiffer test this time, however.
The Stampede, which has two regular season games remaining, is in a three-way tie for first place in the AIF with the Cape Fear (NC) Heroes and the Ontario (CA) Warriors. Cape Fear and Ontario is each 5-0, as well.