WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Despite this being their first season in Wheeling, the undefeated West Virginia RoughRiders are getting ready to host the American Arena League (AAL) Championship game.
They’ll take on the Carolina Energy at WesBanco Arena next Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
On September 24th, 2018 the Richmond RoughRiders announced they would move to Wheeling and become the West Virginia RoughRiders. Fast forward just under nine months later and the West Virginia RoughRiders are an undefeated team playing for a championship.
“That’s the goal we set, that’s the standard we set in the beginning and that’s extremely important,” said RoughRiders head coach Mook Zimmerman. “We’re excited that we’re in this position. It took hard work. All the guys came in and bought into the system. Ownership on down, we all believed in each other and here we are undefeated, first year in Wheeling.”
While the team isn’t brand new in the sense that it moved from Richmond to Wheeling, most of the players and staff came in this year.
“Coming here from Richmond, it’s almost like starting all over again,” Zimmerman said. “We probably have one or two guys from last years team so we have a different group of guys. Different guys in the front office, different guys just all over the place. For us to come together again and be undefeated and then to another championship game, that is huge. That is very huge.”
Part of the RoughRiders appeal is that they have some players who are beloved among West Virginia University fans.
“The WVU guys are huge for us,” said Zimmerman. “They have been incredible on and off the field. They’re great athletes of course and they also do very well in the community. They’re all over the place. Not only our thing but they’ve got some personal things going on. Camps and different speaking engagement and they’re doing different things to get out into the community. Give back to West Virginia in which they gave to them.”
The RoughRiders look to complete a perfect season next Saturday. If they do so, Wheeling mayor Glenn Elliott says you can expect a celebration.
“If the RoughRiders bring this championship home we’re going to have to look at doing something serious to take stock of it and really honor it,” said Mayor Elliott. “We’ll look at parades and other options of whatever, just to really pay tribute to them because it’s been a great first year for them and it would be wonderful if they could bring home the championship.”
Tickets for the AAL Championship are available at the WesBanco Arena box office.