Panthers win IFL national championship

Morgan Hill-based team celebrates successful season

The Bay Area Panther team and staff pose for a group photo as they celebrate their Aug. 5 Indoor Football League National Championship win. Photo: Robert Guynn

The Bay Area Panthers capped off their thrilling 2023 season with a victory in the Indoor Football League’s National Championship game Aug. 5 in Henderson, Nev., where they beat the Sioux Falls Storm 51-41. 

The win marks the Morgan Hill-based Panthers’ first championship in the Indoor Football League, and completes a rapid turnaround from the 2022 season, when they won only a single game. 

Panthers quarterback Dalton Sneed led the Aug. 5 victory with three running touchdowns and two scoring passes to JT Stokes, according to a game recap by Panthers staff. 

Bay Area Panthers defensive lineman Tevaughn Grant embraces the 2023 Indoor Football League National Championship trophy after the team’s Aug. 5 victory at the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nev. Photo: Robert Guynn

“We’ve got a resilient group,” said Sneed, who was named the game’s most valuable player. “We’ve (got) coaches who led us the whole way through. We believed in one another, came to work every day and you see all the work was put on full display today.” 

The IFL Eastern Conference Champion Storm threatened to close in on the Panthers in the second half, cutting a 14-point deficit to 37-34 on a two-yard run for a touchdown on the first possession of the third quarter. 

Bay Area responded in the fourth with Sneed’s second scoring pass to Stokes, then put the game out of reach when Marquise Bridges returned an interception for a touchdown and a 51-34 lead, says the game recap by Panthers Communications Director David Lewis. 

“It’s a testament to all the hard work that these guys have put into it,” said Panthers Defensive Coordinator Rob Keefe. “From the first phone call to the first signed contract to the first walkthrough, first installation, first film session and first practice—we changed the culture.”

The Panthers moved their corporate headquarters and practice program to Morgan Hill at the beginning of the 2023 season in January. The team practices at the Outdoor Sports Center on Condit Road. 

Panthers Quarterback Dalton Sneed is pictured running into the endzone for one of three rushing touchdowns he scored in the Aug. 5 national championship victory. Photo: Robert Guynn
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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.