Three developmental football teams in El Paso, Texas, have already kicked off their 2016 seasons and two more kick off this Saturday as the El Paso Seminoles take on the Borderland Warriors at Burgess High School at 7 p.m.
The Seminoles finished their pre-season slate with a 6-0 win against the New Mexico Thunder in a controlled scrimmage and a loss to the defending Rio Grande Football League champion Las Cruces Kings. On Saturday, it’s for real as the Noles begin league play in the Minor Professional Football League.
“Just like every other team, we’re building to make sure we can get a championship,” Seminoles owner Gregory Hollinger told DFUSA. “I’m not saying it can’t be this year or that it will be this year. We’re trying to do it one step at a time and one game at a time, making sure we force turnovers and score touchdowns and making sure we come together as a team, but our biggest goal is to win a championship.”
Offensively, the Seminoles have several veterans and weapons they will be leaning on this season. Five-foot-10, 180-pound athlete Jeff TurnBull can play quarterback or wide receiver for El Paso, depending on their gameplan, and 6-foot-1, 200-pound James Brantley and 6-foot-3, 190-pound Brook Anderson look to lead the receiving corps.
“Offensively we have a multifaceted offense,” Hollinger said. “We can run I, we can run four wide, trips, offset I. There’s a lot of offenses we run. I can’t say exactly what we’re going to run, but I can say we’re going to control the line of scrimmage against the team we’re playing against.
“We have receivers that can catch, running backs that can run the ball and quarterbacks that can sit in the pocket or run, so it just depends on who’s hot and who’s going to make the big play.”
Any good offense starts with a strong offensive line, where the Seminoles are led by newcomers, 6-foot-6, 400-pounder Andrel Owens and former Shaw University offensive lineman Oliver Pazdry.
“(Owens) is going to be one of the leaders on the offensive line,” Hollinger said. “We’ve got multiple offensive linemen that I think are going to do great. (Pazdry) played at Shaw University and then won three national championships with teams in minor professional and the arena leagues.”
Five-foot-9, 230-pound fullback James May and tight end Darrel Jordan also look to be key parts of the Seminoles offense.
“We’ve been around a long time but we have a fairly young team going into the season,” Hollinger said. “Starting this weekend, we hope to come out on top, do everything we know to do, minimize the mistakes and capitalize our turnovers.”
Defensively, 5-foot-9, 220-pound veteran middle linebacker Antwain Dozier returns to call the defense, which should also have a really strong secondary. Among the defensive backs are 5-foot-7, 175-pound safety Chris McNulty, 5-foot-7, 175-pound cornerback Demarques Johnson and 6-foot-1, 185-pound cornerback Dwight Chambers.
“He’s in the Air Force and he’s from Jamaica,” Hollinger said. “He’s a lock-down corner, he had five picks last year which was tied for the team lead.”
On the defensive line, 6-foot, 200-pound Joshua Ortega looks to put pressure on the quarterback from the defensive end position.
“I know one thing we are going to do – we’re going to do everything in our power to get to that championship,” Hollinger said. “Expectations are always high over here with the El Paso Seminoles. Our linebackers have expectations and want so many tackles a game. Defensively, they expect to get seven turnovers a game, interceptions, fumbles, sacks. The offense expects to get at least 21 points per half, put it up and play football and control the line of scrimmage.”
The Seminoles are very involved with the community, helping with anti-bullying and anti-drug campaigns in the school system as well as helping with Secret Santa and even the Valentine’s Dance.
“Community is number one to us,” Hollinger said. “Without the community. the Seminoles don’t thrive. We would have no heart beat.”
One thing the Seminoles take pride in is their hospitality towards their players.
“Nobody on this team pays for anything,” Hollinger said. “We don’t ask the players for anything. My staff and my job try to take care of the players as much as possible. Through adversoty, we got to stick together.”
Last season the Noles finished 5-5, but look to surpass that mark this season.
“Our toughest opponent is probably the West Texas Drillers,” Hollinger said. “We had a lot of goose eggs last year. Nothing bad about any player or any coach, but the hearts. You have to find the true players with the heart and mentality to fulfill the obligation set forth in front of them.”