Former Georgia Force Offensive Coordinator
Helped Team to 2007 National Conference Championship AppearanceGRAND RAPIDS â€“ With the completion of the 2007 Arena Football League season last Sunday, the Grand Rapids Rampage took their first major step towards preparing for 2008, naming Steve Thonn as their new head coach and director of football operations. The former Georgia offensive coordinator, who helped lead the Force to a 14-2 regular-season record and a National Conference Championship appearance last year, will take over the reins in Grand Rapids through the 2010 season.
Thonn, a former head coach with the AFLâ€™s now defunct Houston ThunderBears from 1998-2001, most recently served as Georgiaâ€™s offensive coordinator from 2005-07. During that span, the Force regularly set offensive records while compiling a 33-15 regular-season record and appearing in two National Conference Championship games and one ArenaBowl (2005). He will take over a Rampage team that went 4-12 last season and has failed to reach the playoffs in each of the last four seasons.
â€œI went through turning a losing team into an ArenaBowl team in one season with Georgia, and through hard work I know it can be done here as well,â€ said Thonn. â€œIâ€™ve been coming to Grand Rapids since 1998, and its one of the greatest Arena Football cities out there. Iâ€™m really excited about becoming a part of that community and its great fans.â€
Last year, Georgia led the AFL with a record 145 touchdowns while posting the third highest point total (1,007) in the AFLâ€™s 21-year history. Meanwhile, quarterback Chris Greisen, who had thrown just 16 passes in his AFL career entering 2007, connected on a league-record 117 touchdown passes, led the AFL and currently ranks third all-time with a 132.0 quarterback rating, and amassed the second highest passing yards total (4,851) in AFL history.
Each of Thonnâ€™s stops as a coach in the AFL have led to the emergence of offensive stars like Greisen. While with Georgia, he helped develop 2005 AFL Rookie of the Year receiver Troy Bergeron and signal caller Matt Nagy, who quarterbacked the Columbus Destroyers past the Force and into the ArenaBowl this season. In two years (2003-04) as the offensive coordinator with the Dallas Desperados, Thonn introduced the AFL to receiver/defensive back Will Pettis, who now is a three-time All-Ironman Team member and was recently named the AFLâ€™s 2007 Ironman of the Year. As head coach of the ThunderBears from 1998-2001, Thonn took a second-year starting quarterback in Clint Dolezel and helped turn him into arguably the most productive player in AFL history.
â€œSteve is a terrific person, a great leader and an offensive wizard,â€ said Rampage General Manager Scott Woodruff. â€œWe are proud to introduce him as our franchiseâ€™s fifth-ever head coach. Under his direction, Georgia put up mind-boggling numbers over the past three seasons, and we expect great results with Steve at the helm.â€
Thonnâ€™s AFL coaching career also includes stints as the offensive coordinator of the ThunderBears (1997), the Milwaukee Mustangs (1996), and the Connecticut Coyotes (1995); and the wide receiver/special teams coach for the Albany Firebirds (1994). In addition, he played six seasons (1988-93) in the AFL as a receiver/defensive back for the Firebirds and the Chicago Bruisers.
The Wheaton College graduate earned Division III All-America Team honors in football and played baseball and basketball from 1980-84. Thonn also served as an assistant basketball coach for his alma mater, and has coached for Wheaton North (Ill.) High Schoolâ€™s varsity football team