The Georgia Cardinals, of Marietta, have been getting geared up for their third season for the past few months and with the holiday season now behind them, their Feb. 11 opener against the Peach State Chiefs – and their United Independent Football League debut – is fast approaching.
And, the Bird Gang is ready to collect rent.
“Everyone in the state of Georgia knows of us and what we bring to the table,” Cardinals owner Leonard Holmes told Developmental Football USA. “We’re a very aggressive team, very explosive. We use a slogan ‘Collecting Rent,’ so we’re going to collect rent from these opponents and get to this championship.
“We’re one of the top teams in the league from their rankings, coming into the league, we’re No. 1 or No. 2. One way or the other, we’re looking to come into this league and be established very well and very quick.”
The Chiefs, on the other hand, don’t quite have the history the Cardinals do.
“We’re a third-year program and we’ve accomplished a lot in three years, so we want to set an example for other teams looking to get in the league next year,” Holmes said.
“They’re a first-year team. They have quite a few players that branched off from other teams. They come to us, they’re coming to our home field for their first game, so it’ll be interesting.”
Last season, the Bird Gang found themselves ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation, and with some key off-season acquisitions, they will make a push to be even better in 2017.
“We actually just signed Robert Godhigh,” Holmes said. “He came out of Georgia Tech and we’re looking for big things out of him to run the type of offense we’re running.”
As a Yellow Jacket, Godhigh rushed 135 times for 1,191 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career. Godhigh will join Cardinals second-year quarterback Dominick Tyler in leading the offense.
“He’s a heck of a quarterback,” Holmes said. “We’re looking for big things out of him. It’s his second year. He’s returning back this year.”
Defensively, the Bird Gang looks to be very stout again and could even be better than they were one year ago.
“We’re known for our defense,” Holmes said. “We have a really good defense. We probably have one of the largest defensive lines in the league and they all played in college. We have a very aggressive defense. We also have some good linebackers and some good DBs that are returning.
“We just added another defensive end that’s graduating from a small college in Kansas and will be part of our team in January, he’s 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, Devonte Miller.”
With Miller coming off one edge of the defensive line and 2016 sack leader Lamont Koontz (6-4, 255) coming off the other edge, opposing quarterbacks probably won’t have much time at all to throw the football.
“He ended up with 11 sacks this past season,” Holmes said. “He’s a great defensive end. He played a little bit of college ball and played in the Indoor Professional League in Cincinnati and also with the Cincinnati Chiefs, which is a great semipro team in Cincinnati, and he came all the way down here to Georgia.”
Six-foot-three, 220-pound cornerback Travis Ledbetter returns to lead the defensive secondary for the Cardinals.
“He has indoor professional experience,” Holmes said. “He played with the Rampage out of Georgia and he also played with the Atlanta Vultures indoor professional team. He kind of reminds me of (Richard) Sherman from the Seattle Seahawks. He’s very aggressive at the corner position and led the team in interceptions this past season.”
The Cardinals full roster and 2017 schedule can be found at www.georgiacardinalsbirdgang.com.