If you’ve followed this level long enough, you’re familiar with the Augusta Ducks organization. Consistently among the better teams on the East Coast, the Ducks have been a team capable of winning any game on their schedule for years. However, this year they didn’t have the start to the season they hoped for and quickly found themselves 0-2 with close losses to the Metro Atlanta Horsemen and the Atlanta Tigers.
“We started off very slow,” Ducks owner Chris Bradley told Developmental Football USA. “It rained a lot the last few weeks of January and a lot in February, going into the start of the season, so the city wouldn’t let us use the facilities to practice, in fear of messing up their fields. Us not practicing showed, especially in the first game.”
At this level, an 0-2 start can cause the wheels to fall off of an organization and can cause teams to even fold, but the Ducks and their winning culture weren’t quite as rattled by it.
“It only brought our team closer together,” Bradley said. “Everyone is hungry and ready to prove the next man wrong on who we really are.”
They’ve done just that and they’ve now won four in a row and started to really build some momentum heading into the second half of the season.
“We are no longer the talk of the league, as far as contender talks and we can just go the rest of the way in silence,” Bradley said. “I feel we have a great shot at going all the way if we can continue to play as one.”
While the coaching staff has certainly done their part in helping to right the ship and lead the team in an upward ascension of the league rankings, the players have certainly responded and done their part.
“First, I want to just bring up the whole offensive line,” Bradley said. “That’s what we have been lacking our previous four years and they have been a major part of this turnaround in recent weeks.”
That line has opened up running lanes and helped pave the way for running back Larry Albert to do his thing on the ground.
“He has been carrying this offense on his back when needed,” Bradley said. “Once he gets going, it’s a long game for the defense.”
Both Albert and the line have been instrumental in this turnaround for the Ducks, but quite possibly the most integral piece of the puzzle has been quarterback Freddie Blanchard.
“He was our slot receiver and our starting quarterback got hurt early in the season opener,” Bradley said. “We found out later in the game it was more serious than we originally thought. Freddie has stepped up and took on the roll as quarterback when needed and he has our offense moving.”
Defensively, the Ducks have been flying in formation for the most part, especially in the trenches.
“I can’t single anyone out on the defensive line,” Bradley said. “Ladarien Redfield, Henderson Ware, William Culbreath and Jay Armstrong have been the heart and soul of our defense and Scott Pagano, who just left to sign with the Seattle Seahawks. Rod Nebors has been the piece we’ve been missing at linebacker by filling in the gaps and Martinez Gallman is still being that dog he is in the secondary.”
Competing with and knocking off top opponents in each of their last several seasons, the Ducks know the importance of staying focused on the task at hand.
“We aren’t looking ahead of who our next opponent is,” Bradley said. “Right now, we are just fighting to get in the playoffs and to do that it’s one game at a time, not who we have in three weeks.”
At this point, the Ducks are definitely back in the playoff hunt and a late season push could really bolster their chances of making a run at the whole thing, but it won’t be an easy path in a league with several top dogs.
“The teams I believe to be contenders besides the Ducks are the Garden City Seahawks, the Metro Atlanta Horsemen, the Alabama Steel and the Chattanooga Eagles,” Bradley said.