All over the southern United States, developmental football teams are anticipating the start of their league seasons and beginning yet another trek in hopes of bringing home a championship ring.
In El Paso, Texas, the Borderland Warriors are more concerned with improving their record from their inaugural season and as new members of the Rio Grande Football League, they believe they’re in prime position to do so.
“We’re going into the playoffs,” Warriors owner Bill Parker told Developmental Football USA. “We’ll make the playoffs. The focus on the team is to get the championship rings, but we are definitely making the playoffs in the division that we’re in and we’ll advance from there.”
In 2016, the Warriors finished 0-6, but as an organization they’ve worked all through the off-season to improve their on-the-field product this year.
“We’re looking at a whole lot better year,” Parker said. “We switched leagues, and added a lot more talented individuals. Right now we’re sitting at about 45 players which is a big plus from last year and gives us more to work with. We’ve added a couple more coaches. Last year I was the only coach and wore multiple hats, which made it rough, trying to manage a team and wearing different hats. This year I was fortunate enough to bring a couple coaches on with me.
“We have a lot more talent and we have a lot of veterans returning so that gives us a plus. We’re ready to roll in our brand new league and we’ll see what we have to offer.”
The Warriors run a balanced offensive attack, with some spread formations to go with traditional running formations. Bill’s son, Austin Parker, who played college football at Carthage University in Wisconsin will lead the Warriors behind center.
“When you look at a quarterback and his reading skills, he’s the epitome of what a quarterback is supposed to be,” Parker said. “Are you accurate? Can you read the defense? Can you handle the ball on rushing attempts? He’s a dual threat quarterback that and expands the field.”
The Borderland offense will look for running back A.D. Johnson to bust through the holes and find daylight.
“He’s a power back, but he’s got the speed to get outside,” Parker said. “In my concept, he’s an overall running back that doesn’t quit, has the heart to continue going and he’s difficult to bring down. He’s one of those stud running backs that a coach is always looking for.”
On the edge, Parker has several targets to throw to, but two of them in particular to watch out for are Patrick Pettis and Malik Fateen.
“Patrick was highly sought here in El Paso,” Parker said. “He was the MVP of various high school years and he was looked at by Ole Miss. His skill level is a lot higher than a lot of my other guys. He was looked at by Division I schools and his route running is really crisp and is another returning veteran. He gets onto the other guys and motivates them to succeed.
“Malik is returning veteran, he’s a younger kid, but he’s willing and he learns and he brings better leadership and his route running as a receiver is crisp. He’s able to get open real easy.”
As far defensive playmakers, look no further than team captain and linebacker James Henderson.
“He basically brings it every single play,” Parker said. “He’s able to control the defense and get them in the right position. He’s a leader on the field and off the field. He’s always motivated and motivating the guys around him. He’s a young cat, I think my average age is 21, so we’re like the young dogs in El Paso.”
Another motivator and probable star for Borderland’s defense is cornerback Marquise Stewart.
“He plays for UTEP, so he brings that college ability already and he’s able to motivate and train our younger guys,” Parker said.
Parker along with coaches Aaron Brown and Jamaal Robinson are maximizing every week between now and their RGFL kickoff later this month to get the Warriors ready. If you’re in the area, go out and support the Borderland Warriors and look for them in the community.
“We’re involved with the Special Olympics,” Parker said. “We’re heavily involved. I’m the powerlifting coach for the Special Olympics and we’ve worked with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer. We stay in the community as much as possible.”