By David Jablonski
SPRINGFIELD — Chris Wallace’s younger teammates called him “O.G.” — as in Old Guy.
In the real world, the 36-year-old isn’t old. In the football world, the former South High School and University of Toledo quarterback is an antique, from the same generation as NFL veterans like Tom Brady and Matt Hasselbeck.
Yet Wallace, as he said, is “still kicking.” He just completed his 13th season in arena football, leading the Florida Tarpons to the championship game of the Ultimate Indoor Football League. They lost 61-44 to the Cincinnati Commandos on Monday. Wallace completed 22-of-42 passes for 241 yards with five touchdowns and an interception.
“We were 12-0 and got to the championship game and fell short, but all in all, it was a heck of a season,” Wallace said. “I’ve got one ring from 2004. I wanted this one and to be undefeated. It just wasn’t in the cards.”
Wallace wants to be a head coach at the high school level some day. He has applied for the Springfield job the last two years, and after several seasons as an assistant at Springfield, he has joined Rick Meeks’ coaching staff at Shawnee.
That doesn’t mean Wallace is finished as a player. He didn’t expect to play this year because of family obligations in Springfield. He got an offer from the Tarpons three games into the season that was too good to turn down.
That extended a career that began in 2000 with the Carolina Rhinos of Arena Football 2. He later played for the Orlando Predators and then spent eight seasons with the Florida Firecats. He became AF2’s all-time leading passer in 2009, the last season before the league dissolved.
Last season, Wallace played with the New Orleans Voodoo and the Pittsburgh Power.
“The game has been a blessing to me,” he said. “It’s showed me so much. It’s not easy to play this long. I don’t care what kind of football it is. We’ll see what next year brings.”