Some spring developmental football leagues have already passed the half-way point of the 2016 season, while still others have yet to kick off. The Colorado Football Conference will kick off in May when the weather hopefully improves as the Colorado Greyhawks are looking at a third consecutive league title.
Last season, the Greyhawks were sitting 12-0 and league champions, as well as state champion,s before falling to the Central Coast Barnstormers in a national game, 17-14, on a last second field goal. It’s now a new year and a clean slate for the defending CFC champions, who look to go even further in 2016.
“We’re excited for this upcoming season to try to defend our league and state title and we’re trying to get back to Vegas,” Greyhawks owner Rashad Ray recently told DFUSA. “That’s something the guys always think about because we let it slip away.
“We’ve been very protective of the football for the last two years and we only had one turnover our first year and three turnovers out of our 13 games last year, leading up to that national championship. We ended up not having any turnovers, but got called two safeties on us. That kind of hurt us, but definitely, our goal is to get back to Vegas.”
A big part of the Greyhawks success is a core of players that have played together for more than 10 years that help get the newer players acclimated to the system and the tradition.
“We’re fast, but we need to be faster,” Ray said. “That’s the only way I see us making it back to Vegas and winning. We’ve got to be a fast team. I’ve got a lot of guys that have speed, they just have to buy into the system and I think we’ll be successful.”
Despite being a very experienced team with strong chemistry, the Greyhawks are not lacking in terms of talent, either. Running the rock for the Greyhawks is former Colorado Buffalo and San Francisco 49er Bobby Purify, who also fills in at safety. Purify is joined by two other CFC stars in the backfield.
“Julian Banks, our quarterback, was probably our MVP of the season,” Ray said. “He had over 1,000 yards rushing, most of his touchdowns are on runs of 60 yards are more. Also, I had two running backs over 1,000 yards – Bobby and Marcus Hubbard.”
On offense, the Greyhawks are not committed to a specific plan, rather they adjust week to week based on who they are facing.
“Offensively, we’re a multiple offense, some spread, some power, and we have an athletic quarterback,” Ray said. “We can run the fun and gun, we can run a conventional spread, we can run Auburn’s offense that Gus Malzahn runs. If I have to run the football, we can go with three backs in the backfield or I can spread it out with four receivers and a single back or go empty.”
Defensively, veteran middle linebacker Jimmy Provost is the unquestioned leader for the Greyhawks defensive which is solid all across the board.
“He’s probably led the league in tackles for the last four years,” Ray said. “Jimmy stands out, guys look up to him a lot. Also our secondary and our defensive line. If I had to just say the core guys, Jimmy definitely stands out, plus the defensive line and the secondary. Most everybody on the team, except two defensive linemen, had interceptions last year.
“Our team pride ourselves on defense and we play ball and that’s it. The defense sets the tone and the offense just follows up on it. We run a nickel, 4-2-5. We had the number one ranked defense in our league and probably in the state, only giving up 28 points in the regular season.”
A few teams in the CFC could be potential roadblocks to the Greyhawks pulling off the three-peat.
“Right now, it would have to be the Colorado Springs Flames or the Denver Pirates – my old team,” Ray said. “We open up against the Flames on May 14th. That will be our first regular season game, a championship rematch on week one. Then we’ve got the Pirates week two.”
If they do repeat as CFC champions, the Greyhawks expect a rematch against the Denco Spades for the state championship.
“Right now, they have about 80 something guys trying to make their team and I have about 80 something guys trying to make my team,” Ray said. “They’re picking up some nice guys and I’m picking up some nice guys. They’re changing quarterbacks, but I still have my same guy coming back.
“Last year’s game was talked about a lot. It was hyped up a lot like a boxing match. I respect the hell out of the spades owner Damion.”
While the regular season opens up in May, the Greyhawks are looking at a pre-season road game against the Lincoln (Neb.) Renegades sometime in late April.
“Our expectation is definitely to defend our title and get back to Vegas,” Ray said. “That game definitely left a bad taste in the player’s mouth, the coaching staff’s mouth and the owner’s mouth. We definitely did not play to our potential that game. It was our only loss and we’ve only lost two games in two years.”