Founded in 2015, the Denco Spades know a thing or two about hot starts. The Spades, owned by Damion Sands, were part of the American Developmental Football League (ADFL), which is now known as the Colorado Football Association, or the CFA for short.
Formerly known as the Denco Rattlers, the Spades won the ADFL in their first season. Last season ended with a loss in the second round of the playoffs. It was a loss to the team that went on to win it all, the Colorado Cougars, and it was a loss that left Sands with a bad taste in his mouth.
“They were a pretty good team, so we didn’t get to repeat, he said of the Cougars. “Other than that it was on okay season. We dealt with a lot of challenges we didn’t see coming that we didn’t have to deal with the year before, so it was a learning experience.”
Coached by Tony Wright, Sands is hoping the Spades will bounce back in this upcoming season and take the experience of losing in the playoffs and use it to re-capture the fire. He’s focused on the big prize, and it’s quite obvious he’s expecting his team to be just as focused as well.
“Our expectation is to take back what’s ours,” he told Developmental Football USA. “We had all the talent in the world last year but we had a hard time figuring out how to utilize it. It was hard to make it feel like everybody had a role.”
Sands believes his team has even more talent heading into this season, though, starting with two wide receivers who know each other quite well.
“Offensively, we have Travis Greer again,” Sand said. “He’s more of a possession type of receiver. Anything you throw his way, he’s going to catch. He’s tough for defensive backs to defend.”
Greer’s cousin, James, is expected to line up on the other side of the offense at wideout, and he’s bringing just as much potential.
“He’s pretty much the same talent wise.” Sands explained. “Another stud receiver. Pretty much the same type of dynamic player.
The Spades are also hoping to get major contributions from the man known as Mississippi. Antonio “Mississippi” Vance will line up in the slot for Denco, but he’s also expected to play a big role on defense at safety and as a special teams returner.
“He’s a both ways type of guy. He’s deadly in punt returns and kickoff returns. We didn’t use him as much on offense as we should have, but he’s locked and loaded and is going to be a big contributor on that side of the ball,” Sand said.
Sand also believes tailback DeShon Garcia deserves some preseason recognition and hype for the season he had in Denco’s last campaign. Garcia started out as a defender but transitioned to tailback and was a huge contributor for the Spades. He’ll be back this season.
Speaking of defense, K-Rod Turner. Richard Salva and “sack master” Tommie Allen Jr. are all expected to show up in a big way for the Spades. Allen Jr., in particular, is being looked upon to replicate a monster season.
“That guy led the league in sacks last year and he’s going to do the same this year. He’s unstoppable,” Sands told DFUSA.
Roles and expectations appeared to be an issue last season for DENCO, but heading into this upcoming season the Spades seem to be lining up a solid and confident unit. Perhaps no player better personifies Denco’s solid identity than Curtis Boyd, who started out as a wide receiver for the team but moved to defensive end and had himself a season.
Boyd is big and he’s obviously athletic as a former wide receiver. He’s expected to use his size and agility in a big way for Denco this season coming off the edge.
“It was the best move we’ve ever made,” Sands said, referencing moving Boyd from wideout to end. “He grew into it and grew to love it.”
Denco obviously feels confident heading into this season and it will get an opportunity to come out strong in late April against the Mile High Grizzlies. The Grizzlies weren’t active last season but are back and will provide the Spades with a great test to start out the season — which is expected to start around the first week of May.
Playing in the Stuler Bowl and representing Denver, expectations are high for the Spades. Those are expectations the ownership isn’t backing down from.
“We’re planning to go undefeated, win the CFA and meet the winner of the CFC — which is presumably the Colorado Greyhawks,” Sands said. “Then see what we can do in that state championship game and that’s what we look forward to.”