Richmond Roughriders ready to give Florida team a workout

5/5/2017, 7:48 p.m.
It’s been easy so far — perhaps too easy, for the first-season Richmond Roughriders. That could change soon.
Gregg Fornario

It’s been easy so far — perhaps too easy, for the first-season Richmond Roughriders.

That could change soon.

The Arena Pro Football league team is 4-0 and bracing for the Saturday, May 6, matchup against another unbeaten outfit, the Florida Tarpons out of Fort Myers, Fla., which is 5-0.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Richmond Coliseum, with much at stake.

“The way it looks now, we’ll be playing the Tarpons again in the APF championship game” on June 10, said Roughriders owner Gregg Fornario, who is based in Philadelphia.

“Whoever wins this game will stay home and host the championship.”

The green and black-uniformed Roughriders have run roughshod over their first four opponents. Richmond opened in early April with an 84-8 home win over the Birmingham Outlawz of Alabama.

Since then, the Roughriders have traveled to St. Louis to beat the River City Raiders 54-39, while adding Richmond Coliseum victories over the Savannah Coastal Outlaws 94-14 and the South Carolina Cowboys 92-0.

After Saturday’s game against the Tarpons, the remaining home dates are Saturday, May 20, against the River City Raiders and Saturday, May 27, against the Triangle Torch of North Carolina.

Tickets range from $12 to $34.

Fornario, who owns his own sports agency, 4NarioSports.com, concedes the Roughriders are more a stepping stone for players to a more established league than a gridiron destination.

“In this business, you need to have film,” said Fornario. “We’ve got calls coming in from teams looking for players — Canadian League teams and teams from the top arena leagues.”

The APF salary cap is $3,100 per game. That money is spread over a 20-man roster and isn’t necessarily evenly distributed.

“Our quarterback gets more than the 20th man,” said Fornario, a burly man who said, “I’d put on a helmet and play myself if I wasn’t 43.”

The Roughriders’ quarterback is Jimmy Laughrea, who played collegiately at Boise State University in Idaho and the University of California-Davis.

His favorite targets include Herb Jones, a former Virginia Union University receiver who has played on other local arena league teams in the past.

Previous arena teams in Richmond have been the Speed, Revolution and Bandits, and most recently, the Raiders, who competed at the Coliseum from 2010 to 2015. All had their moments but eventually folded.

Fornario sizes it up this way:

“From where I come from, there is a pizzeria on every street corner. And you know what happens when one pizzeria goes out of business? Another pizzeria takes its place.”