As the Arizona Cactus Football League 2019 season draws near, now just days away, 15 teams are about to inevitably write the next chapter of their team’s story. For the Tucson Desert Demons, they’re looking to put 2018 behind them and climb back to the top.
“Last year was rough,” Desert Demons owner Amber Martinez told Developmental Football USA. “We decided very close to the season starting which league we were going to join. By doing so, we lost some of our players because they had signed with other teams, due to us not wanting to return to the Arizona Football League.”
Because of this, the one-time national champion and one-time back-to-back state champion found themselves out of the title hunt early on last season.
“Starting from scratch with a brand new team, we failed to prepare ourselves for a new style of play,” Martinez said. “We had dominated our league for so long that our old habits were hard to break and we remained comfortable and complacent in our routine. That ultimately didn’t pay off.”
The new season brings Tucson another opportunity to climb back to the top and time will tell how well this team has improved over the off-season.
“Everyone’s goal should be to become champions, but realistically, I will accept making the playoffs and getting back to our dominating reputation,” Martinez said.
To date, the Desert Demons remain the first and only team from Tucson to win a championship in this level of football.
“We have the longest and most successful team in Tucson and we have sent countless players back to college and arena teams,” Martinez said.
Theoretically, 15 teams have a shot to become the first ever champion of the AZCFL, but most owners around the league seem to think it’s truly anywhere from a two-team to five-team race. Martinez feels four teams in particular have established themselves as contenders.
“The Stampede, Rebels, Phantoms, and Outlaws,” Martinez said. “Honestly, I think we stack up evenly to any of these top teams. We have more speed, talent and depth this year.”
Martinez didn’t believe naming key players on either side of the ball would do the Desert Demons roster justice.
“We have so many playmakers all around,” Martinez said. “We can match up with anyone.”
Last year wasn’t the case. In fact, the Desert Demons quickly learned about the level of competition to expect in the AZCFL as virtually the entire lineup from last year’s Arizona Gridiron Football League came over.
“They are in way better shape, team’s rosters contain a lot more players and games are a lot longer than we were used to,” Martinez said. “Now that we know these things, we are much better prepared.”
The consensus around the league has been high expectations for the AZCFL to raise the bar even more as the season unfolds.
“They are way more organized, structured, and have a lot of goals and aspirations for the league,” Martinez said. “Their end goal is to help players get where they want to and you can see that. We are very proud to be a part of the AZCFL.”