The Northwest International Football League was
formed in the spring of 1971, originally consisting of the British
Columbia Chargers, the Everett Ramblers, the Kirkland Bulldogs, the
Whatcom County Lakers, the Whidbey Islanders and Monroe Reformatory.
Elmo Hudgens, with his 25 years of experience of semi-pro football
ownership agreed to serve as an honorary member and consultant.
The first year ended in a 3-way tie between
Kirkland, B.C. and Everett, with Kirkland acknowledged as the League
winners since they had defeated everybody in the League under the first
year schedule which had each team playing each other twice, even three
times on some occasions, hence the slightly odd ending.
1972 saw the Seattle Cavaliers officially join the
League and the British Columbia Chargers were split into 2 teams, the
newcomer being the Burnaby Barons and with enough teams, a single game
was played and the venerable Cavaliers emerged as League leaders.
The season ended with an All-Star game which the Cavaliers narrowly won
20-19 against a hand picked aggregation of the entire League.
In 1973, all the same teams returned and three new
members sought membership- Pierce County Bengals, Skagit Valley Raiders
and Sea-Tac Flyers of Burien, while Kirkland's name changed to Eastside
Bulldogs in '72, is being considered for another change to Seattle
Bulldogs, as most of their membership is from Seattle and their
practices as well.
The League, while being called semi-professional,
was actually the only amateur International tackle football organization
in this hemisphere, if not the world. The players were not paid,
thereby never endangering the future college or other amateur status of
any players. Some teams did make provisions for travel
reimbursement, but strictly within the Washington Athletic Union
Headed by Commissioner Frank Pommerleau of
Snohomish, assisted by Gerry Kay as Canadian Co-Commissioner, and
Secretary-Treasurer and Public Relations by Marshall Paris of Bothell,
co-owner of the Whidbey Islanders with an assist from Jerry Carson,
experienced journalist and Seattle Cavalier member.
In 1974 the World Football League was formed and
they placed a franchise in Toronto, in direct conflict with the Canadian
Football League. The Canadian Parliament passed a bill prohibiting
any Canadian football team from playing in an American-based league.
Thus, bout the Chargers and Barons were forced to withdraw from the
league. Other changes saw the Whidbey Islanders merge with the
Seattle Bulldogs, while the Flyer franchise played the season in Renton.
Once again on the field it was all Bengals going unbeaten and a 33-33
tie with the Cavaliers. The All-Stars again nipped the Bengals
In 1975 the Monroe Tigers dropped out and were
replaced by the Thurston County Vikings out of Olympia and the Seattle
Bulldogs, under new ownership changed to the Titans. The Bengals
again won the title with a perfect record.
The 1976 lineup remained the same and the Bengals
won the championship over the Flyers 7-0.
The Bengals defeated the Ramblers in the '77
championship 23-0. The playoffs were minus the Seattle Cavaliers
who decided not to compete instead taking on Yakima Valley CC and
Olympic CC. Thurston County and Whatcom folded prior to the season
while new teams formed at Fort Lewis and the Kitsap County Chiefs.
The 1978 season was the year of the Flyers.
For the first time in nearly five years the Bengals were defeated by a
league opponent and again it was the Burien Flyers. Defeating the
Bengals early in the season, losing in mid-season, and then taking the
rubber match in the NIFL championship for the title. Authorities
with the US Army disbanded the Fort Lewis Warrior team in the summer of
1978 sending a number of players to the Bengals including all-star and
1,000 yd rusher Grady Stroman. Stroman, however, would not be
available after the Bengals first game when he was sent to Europe.
He returned just in time for the playoffs.
The Seattle Titans and Snohomish County Ramblers
would play their final games as their players would become the newly
formed Lynnwood-Edmonds Lions which announced formation plans on Sept
13, Joe Brown as GM, this announcement coincided with the NIFL
restructuring the last half of the league schedule. The
Goldenhawks and Thunderbirds entered the loop along with the
1979 - Standings
The 1979 Burien Flyers could not repeat their
phenomenal '78 championship campaign even with Warren Moon's backup QB
Duane Akina calling the shots, and the Pierce County Bengals regained
their championship ways going 11-0 and securing the title with a 12-9 OT
victory over the Spokane Golden Hawks.
The 'Hawks, at times playing in front of crowds
numbering 9,000 at Joe Albi Stadium, made an impressive 9-2 showing in
their inaugural season. These same Golden Hawks may have forced
the name change of a team after a 59-0 dismantling on Aug 11.
After the Aug 4 jamboree, the Lynnwood-Edmonds Lions, a team made up of
players from the now defunct Seattle Titans and Snohomish County
Ramblers were embarrassed in front of 9,000 rabid Spokane fans.
When the season officially kicked off on Aug 18, the "Lions" were now
being billed as the Edmonds Chargers perhaps in an effort to distance
themselves from that game. It didn't work. The Chargers
finished 2-6 for the season including another shellacking at the hands
of the 'Hawks 71-0 on Sept 22..
The 1979 playoffs were played in Spokane's Joe Albi
Stadium in double-header fashion. The Bengals manhandled the
Thunderbirds in the 4:30 affair and the hometown Golden Hawks worked
over the Cavaliers in the 8 o'clock nightcap.
Quincey Williams of Phil Pompeo's Flyers set a
record with a 96-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Seattle
Cavaliers on Aug 18.
The NIFL would field only 4 teams in 1980 with a
separate group of teams restructuring under another banner.