As part of the Inter Active Football League — largely considered one of the top up-and-coming developmental leagues in the nation — the Chattanooga Eagles have high expectations.
Not only did they recently move from the Gridiron Developmental Football League to the IAFL after some success in the former league, but the organization as a whole has high standards both on the field and in the realm of mindset.
Team owner Hayden Clark was clear about that, recently speaking with Developmental Football USA.
“As always, you want to put your team in the best position possible to win a ring and bring a championship back to your city, but one of the things we try and pride ourselves on is making each other better humans; striving to be the best at everything we do,” he explained. [It’s having] the mentality of ‘if you’re going to flip burgers for a living, be the best burger flipper in the world’ ”
The Eagles pride themselves on never being outworked, and they know that winning doesn’t happen under the lights. It’s done during preparation up to that point.
There’s a reason Chattanooga is one of the top teams in the IAFL, and that’s largely it.
The other reason is the dearth of talent the team possesses. The Eagles are a team with multiple players who can make big-time plays on both sides of the ball, but as always, it starts up front with the offensive line.
Clark spoke highly of his left tackle, Clarence Wiley, calling him a “freak”, and that’s in a good way.
“I’ll put our him up against anybody,” he said. “It’s not just his blocking ability, it’s his leadership to rally the guys and get them motivated.”
With many teams at the developmental level struggling to find elite talent at the quarterback position, the Eagles find themselves lucky enough to have two stellar signal-callers: Hunter Moore and Ethan Barker.
Clark says that those two are nightmare fuel for opposing defenses.
“You have to make sure and locate those guys at all times,” he explained. “Sounds easy to find the QB, right? We game plan to make the defenses overthink. Hunter is more of your pocket passer, and Ethan is your do-it-all type player. He lines up at H-Back, running back, slot receiver, tight end – you name it, he does it, and does it
The Eagles also boast a talented wideout in Dre Clark, who has already notched about 200 yards and a handful of touchdowns on the season
Defensively, the Eagles are the type of squad that will simply shut an opponent out. Case in point? Over the first two games of the season, the defense didn’t give up a single point.
“They rally to the football, they’re physical once they get there, and they take it personal when they give up a yard,” Clark said of his defensive unit. “It’s a scary sight to look across from those guys.”
Leading the way for Chattanooga on defense is defensive end William Alderman, who Clark described as “explosive like a rocket”. First-year starter Alonzo Blackwell has also done terrific work at linebacker, especially considering the team lost two-of-three starting linebackers from last season.
William Alderman is a freak at DE. No better way to describe him. If I had to pick one word, it’s ‘Explosive’ he’s like a rocket coming off the edge. Not too many people can touch him.
“He has stepped in and looked like he’s started since day one,” the owner said.
At rover, (outside linebacker), Dee Suttles and Ro Caffey simply make plays for the Eagles. Clark mentioned that they cover like safeties, yet hit like linebackers.
The Eagles appear to have the talent to win a league like the IAFL and they can certainly compete with the likes of the Garden City Seahawks and Metro Atlanta Horsemen, but Clark isn’t focused on that. In general, he’s very excited about what he’s seen from the IAFL so far and he is undoubtedly happy the Eagles are a part of it.
“The IAFL is a business, and it’s ran the way I would try and run a league,” he said. “The structure of his league is just something you don’t see at this level. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for the IAFL.”
Clark is also excited about the future of his team, which is admittedly very bright.
“I don’t like to compare us to other teams in any league. We charge perfection. We never want to settle for good enough,” he said. “I think if we play our game we are unstoppable on both sides of the football. I preach to these guys week in and week out the only team that can beat us is us. If they have that mentality, it’s going to be
real dangerous to see how this thing ends.”