At the developmental level of football, with players switching teams, teams switching leagues and new teams popping up every year, there are always many unknowns every off-season. For teams that have a good thing going away from the spotlight, being an unknown can be a good thing.
With still a month and some change prior to the 2018 regular season kickoff of the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League, the Port City Saints of Mobile, Ala., look like one team poised to make themselves known in their first year.
“Everybody in this league that we’ve got to play better be ready,” Saints owner John Carter told Developmental Football USA. “We’re coming to bust heads and take the championship home with us. We’re coming to bring it all.”
In the official APDFL Pre-Season Rankings, the Saints came in at No. 24 of 29 teams, which seems to have lit a fire in the new team from The Port City.
“They’ve got us ranked No. 24,” Carter said. “I’ve used it to kind of motivate some of my guys. We’re green, we’re a new team, so they’re going to put us close to the bottom, but we’re going to come out and show we should be top three, top five. We’ll come out and play under dogs and do what we’ve got to do.”
Injuries and attrition happens to every team as they battle their way through a tough schedule and face a high level of competition week in and week out, but at this point, with all things considered, the Saints are certainly ahead of schedule in Year 1.
“Being a first-year team, when I first thought about this, I thought, ‘Okay, if we go .500 for the season’, I would be super ecstatic, but the way we’re going right now, the way we look, there’s no reason we can’t go 8-2 or better,” Carter said. “Of course, if we have a run and make it to the championship, that’s even better.”
The Saints, which are about 50 players deep right now, will lean on former Emerald Coast Scorpions quarterback Martinez Hunter and quarterback J.B. Robinson to ignite the offense.
“Martinez has got a strong arm and can throw the ball far and accurately and he can scramble and run,” Carter said. “I think he’s going to have a big year and our running backs, Justin McCreary, Tyrie Sullivan and Timothy Lett, I think are going to have a substantial amount of yards this season.”
Defensively, ends Larry Dailey and Rawley White could prove to be a force for the Saints and cause plenty of problems for opposing offenses.
“I’ve got a couple of big defensive ends looking to make a big impact on some running backs and quarterbacks and I think they’re going to be big for us, stopping the quarterback and stopping the run,” Carter said.
With plenty of talent at their disposal, it’ll be up to Carter and his staff to keep the ship sailing in the right direction all season in order to achieve their goals.
“I’ve got a couple of good coaches behind me and I like the way we look,” Carter said. “I like our chances of taking over the No. 1 spot this season.”
To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, so the defending champion Mississippi Dynasty and other top teams, will certainly have something to say to the Saints.
“I know the Mississippi Dynasty is going to be the team to beat,” Carter said. “They won it last year. They’re really strong. The Mobile Generals had a good showing last year, but I don’t know how they look this year. I know, of course, the Prattville Patriots are always a strong team, then a couple of teams up north. As far as our side of the league goes, I think our biggest problem is going to be the Mississippi Dynasty.”
Right now, the game against the Dynasty is one of three the Saints have circled on their schedule.
“The Emerald Coast Scorpions, we’ve got a lot of guys looking forward to that game,” Carter said. “The Mobile Generals, of course, that’s our city rivalry. Then, the Mississippi Dynasty is another big game we’ve got. That’s the last game of our regular season. Those are three of the big ones we’re looking forward to.”