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Cavalry Vs Fever

Cavalry head coach Ryan Lingenfelder protests a call early in Casper's game against the Tri-Cities Fever on Friday night at the Casper Events Center. (Dan Cepeda, Star-Tribune)

Thirty minutes had passed since the Wyoming Cavalry's 64-35 season-ending loss to the Tri-Cities Fever, and now fluorescent lights illuminated the daze of defeat saturating the coaching quarters of the Casper Events Center.

Bare-chested with a blue T-shirt draped over his left shoulder, Cavalry head coach Ryan Lingenfelder submitted to reality: A 2-26 record in two years. Identical 1-13 marks in back-to-back seasons. His 40th birthday looming.

Lingenfelder sulked, disappointed in more than the failure of a single game or season. This was dismay encapsulating an entire career, of his chosen profession.

After 16 years of coaching football, Lingenfelder questioned whether his time in the sport was over. He will not return with the Cavalry next year, that much he was sure of. His two-year contract is set to end Sept. 15, and through unblinking glossy green eyes, he exuded little optimism that his stay with the organization would be extended.

Even if offered the opportunity, Lingenfelder conceded, he would not agree to return.

"There's been no discussion of retaining me, and I wouldn't invite me back after going 2-26 in two years," Lingenfelder said. "If they did, I would say no to it."

Little has gone right for the Cavalry during Lingenfelder's tenure. Even with access to an adequate practice facility that would have allowed for more than 12 and 14 indoor training sessions, respectively, the past two seasons, there is little to suggest the team's fortunes would have changed sufficiently.

The Cavalry ranked near or at the bottom of nearly every statistical category in the Indoor Football League, basement dwellers in scoring offense, scoring defense, touchdowns scored, total offense and eighth out of nine teams in total defense.

Lingenfelder, admittedly dissatisfied with his personnel decisions in 2013, was encouraged by his talent evaluation entering the 2014 season, and yet the record at the end of the season remained the same.

"Obviously, that isn't the record we were looking for," said Cavalry owner and Director of Business Operations Argeri Layton, who declined to confirm Lingenfelder's status for next season. "Record isn't everything, but that doesn't mean we wouldn't like to have more wins."

Leading the Cavalry's resurgence, whenever it should arrive, won't be Lingenfelder's responsibility. His coaching career has taken him from the high school ranks in Arizona to an assistant at the University of Idaho to the division rival Fever, where, as a defensive coordinator in 2010, Lingenfelder guided a top-ranked defense and won consecutive conference titles. 

After leaving the Fever two seasons ago, Lingenfelder's former team may have handed him his final defeat of his coaching career. 

"I'm going to have to take a definite look and say, 'Have I been a successful football coach from the time I started coaching football with little kids to grown men?'" Lingenfelder said.

"Is this a career path that I need to continue to chase, or is this something that I need to go ahead and start over and go another direction?" he continued. "Because, unfortunately, the record is the only indicator of whether people think you're a good coach or not, and my record as a head coach is absolutely atrocious."

Lingenfelder said his next life chapter could involve a foray into the business world should he leave football. There would be plenty of time for self-reflection over the next few months, but before then he still needed to address his team for the final time. 

He gathered himself, buckling his belt, slipping into his blue shirt and wiping away the moisture from his face. Lingenfelder then engaged with his booming voice, calling for his team to quiet down as he exited his office and ambled toward the locker room, taking one final breath before closing the door behind him.

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Contact sports reporter Jeff Kirshman at 307-266-0615 or jeff.kirshman@trib.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkirshman.

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