In 2001 the NAFL attempted to move west and one of
the divisions created was the Big Sky Division. The Wasatch
Wildcats from Salt Lake City left the Utah League joining the former
RMFL teams: Bozeman Kodiaks, Helena Knights and Great Falls Gladiators
as members of the 4-team division. Wasatch ran away with the
division without allowing a point being scored by the other member
The Montana Panthers folded in
April without playing a game, but collected fees from players amounting
to around $2000 that was never reimbursed.
The division degraded into a 2-team division with
start up teams Spokane and Renton. Spokane won all three meetings.
The Big Sky designation was split into the Northwest and Rocky Mountain
Divisions. Only Wasatch returned from the 2001 roster with new
teams added from New Mexico.
By 2003 Renton joined the NWFL, and the New
Mexico experiment was over and Wasatch was alone again. So,
Spokane was moved to the Rocky Mountain division, but Spokane collapsed
after four games. This also marked the year the NAFL made a deal
with the Eastside Hawks allowing them to play an NWFL-season schedule
and then buy their way into the NAFL playoffs without having to play a
mandated NAFL schedule. Most of the NWFL roster would not pay to
be members of the NAFL, which normally would have led to "unsanctioned"
games according to NAFL bylaws at the time but that rule was suspended
from 2003-2007 for the NWFL teams wanting in.
By virtue of winning the NWFL League title,
Eastside entered the NAFL playoffs defeating Wasatch and making it as
far as the Championship game falling to the Kane County Eagles.
The experiment continued in 2004 as the Hawks
again won the NWFL and entered the playoffs without playing a formal
NAFL schedule. This time the team that NFL player Sam Adams put
together won the NAFL Championship over the Central Penn Piranha.
The Hawks disbanded after their Championship,
but the special circumstances continued to be extended to the NWFL
champion and in 2005, the runner-up as the NAFL added a "consolation"
tournament. The King County Jaguars, primarily Hawks players, made
their way to the title game only to be dominated by the Piranha in the
title game. The West Sound Saints, losers in both meetings with
the Jaguars won the consolation tournament.
2006 had high expectations for the Northwest,
but problems between the NAFL and NWFL teams over travel funds resulted
in the NWFL teams pulling out of the playoffs and King County playing in
the MLFA tournament instead.
The Jaguars returned to play in the NAFL
tournament after winning the NWFL championship only to be knocked out by
the Dallas Diesels.
When 2008 Kicked off, for the first time since
2002, western Washington officially had a division in the NAFL with the
birth of the 8-team, 2-conference,