After winning the Arizona State Championship earlier this summer, the Arizona Running Rebels are out to test themselves again this weekend in Las Vegas against the Vegas Trojans.
The Vegas Trojans come into the game off a Pac-West Football League Championship and are currently riding an 18-game winning streak. Needless to say, the Running Rebels won’t need any extra motivation preparing for this one.
“The guys are all about this game,” Rebels owner Nikki Zupan told Developmental Football USA. “We are in 118 degree weather. It’s still 100 degrees when we are practicing at night and they are still out there every week preparing. The dedication these guys have shown speaks volumes. We’re trying to take this to a national level and if we win this game, we’ve already got opportunities on the table.”
Earlier this year, the Rebels got a redemptive win in the Arizona Gridiron Football League Championship Game over the Southwest Stampede, who handed the Rebels their only loss of the year earlier in the season. Then, to follow that up, the Rebels routed the East Valley Ravens 40-8 in the Arizona State Championship.
(Photo Cred: Nikki Zupan)
“For the state of Arizona, that game was a complete win,” Zupan said. “That’s the first time we’ve seen interleague play. There’s a lot of leagues here in Arizona and one of the problems is the leagues in Arizona never come together. The fact that that game happened in the state of Arizona is a miracle. Getting all of the parties together was a miracle.”
Offensively, rookie quarterback Tre’Von Grant had a statement year for the Rebels and was named league MVP at season’s end.
“He came out with forced and looked like a veteran,” Zupan said. “We have a lot of talent on our team, that’s the big thing. We have a lot of athletes that came out of Division I schools. Ronnie Sellers and George Bell played at Arizona State and Jumanne Robertson played at Utah State. There are athletes all over the field, but those are some of our star performers.”
Another player who has impressed for the Rebels is Diondre Moore-Young, who plays both running back and defensive back.
“He’s looking to go D-I,” Zupan said. “He balls out five days a week. He’s in the weight room with our additional trainer. We definitely have some young talent.”
(Photo Cred: Nikki Zupan)
The Rebels were originally founded in 2009 as the East Valley Warlords, where they won a state championship in 2013 and a national championship in 2014. Prior to this season, the administration decided to start a new era and became the Rebels.
“It was a final hour decision,” Zupan said. “We made that decision seven days before the season. We wanted a fresh start for the new year, under a new name.”
It’ll take the Rebels running all three phases of the game to get past the Trojans on Saturday, and if they do, the championship tour will have to add another stop.