Flying Aces season canceled due to pandemic

Flying Aces' RayJohn Ramsey scrambles out of the pocket against Sioux City June 15, 2019, at Stride Bank Center.

ENID, Okla. — While the pandemic may be easing, COVID-19 still managed to claim another sports victim Tuesday when Champions Indoor Football announced its 2020 indoor football season was officially canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The cancellation grounded Enid's CIF franchise, the Oklahoma Flying Aces.

"The CIF board of directors had continually pushed for a delay to start the season, and even approved several modified versions of a reduced schedule, all the while hoping for a positive outcome, but ultimately that never materialized," CIF Commissioner Ricky Bertz said in a release.

Flying Aces head coach and managing partner Richard Davis echoed Bertz's desire in wishing to have found a way to play this season.

"I appreciated our owners' actions," Davis said Tuesday. "We didn't just give in and cancel it. We waited. The consensus of the owners was it's time to play, it's time to get our country back up and running. We really felt like we were going to have that window."

However, too many questions and various circumstances conspired against any hopes for a 2020 season.

That included three franchises in the seven-team league still having unresolved building issues, such as availability and if available what limitations would be placed on attendance. Additionally, questions remained regarding player health, specifically, what would be the response during the season if a player tested positive for COVID-19.

"Would the rest of the team be forced into isolation or quarantine," Davis said. "It wasn't just the building uncertainty. We couldn't get enough states to go on record and tell us what would have happened if one of the players [tested positive]."

Davis was disappointed for the fans, the city of Enid and the Flying Aces players.

He said fans who purchased tickets for 2020 will have several options going forward.

"We're hopeful everyone will roll their tickets over into 2021," Davis said. "We're going to incentivize everyone. It's really more about rewarding our fans for their trust and patience." He said fans will also be able to request an immediate refund.

"I can't blame anybody if they want their money back," Davis said. "But we really want them to stick with us and we're going to reward them for doing so because that's the only way we can grow our business is to get more and more folks to buy in with us."

Davis indicated that additional options will be offered next season to encourage fans to purchase more than single-game tickets. That will include offering 2- or 3-game mini packs.

"Here we are in this situation, and we really were going to be so much better this year," Davis said. The Flying Aces finished 2-10 in their inaugural season in 2019 with their only wins coming by forfeit. "We were going to be considerably better," he said.

Davis said the team and the players had been anxious to show Enid the improvement.

"I feel so bad for the players," he said. "Those guys have been busting their asses with no one watching for a year now trying to be ready to roll and this [pandemic] just blocks them from having the opportunity to reap any reward or results from that hard work."

Several players have told Davis they want another year together.

"I think they're going to hang in there," Davis said. "Life circumstances can change of course, but I think what you are going to see is a whole lot of them stay together. We're a close bunch and we want to take the field together.

Davis said quarterback Rayjohn Ramsey has "lost 10 pounds and looked like a million bucks." According to Davis, Ramsey told him 'I'm back. Period. I didn't put all this work in and get ready for this year and just walk away. I am going to keep working and when camp opens, I'll roll in.'

Likewise, former Oklahoma State wide receiver Torrance Carr was looking solid and making progress coming off knee surgery.

"He was probably in the best shape of his life since his time at Oklahoma State," Davis said of Carr.

"It's just a tough deal for those guys because they don't have million-dollar guaranteed contracts," Davis said.

The Flying Aces will be putting out a video on social media likely later this week to answer fan questions and talk about plans for next season. Fans can send questions via email to info@oklahomaflyingaces.com

"We just have to dig in deeper," Davis said. "We're going to be here. We feel like we're about to break out. We'll just fight until we get here next year."

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Ruthenberg is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for Dave? Send an email to daver@enidnews.com.

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