Countless good relationships come over time from being in the developmental football world, but on Saturday, friends will become enemies for four quarters as the Las Cruces Kings host the West Texas Lions.
“I have a lot of love and respect for the Kings organization and I consider many of them as friends, but for those four quarters, they are our enemy,” Lions owner Jesse Rose told Developmental Football USA. “After the game, we will always show love and respect.”
Rose, along with Lions general manager Derek Smith, were both part of the Kings for several years, including the championship season in 2015. After countless trips traveling to Las Cruces for football, the two decided to just start their own team in their hometown of El Paso.
This time, they might not be welcomed quite the same way when they arrive in Las Cruces as they have in years past.
“This game means absolutely more,” Kings general manager Richard Brown told Developmental Football USA. “We’ve got nothing but love for our former Kings, but we look forward to beating the brakes off of each other.”
The Kings, who are 19-5 over the past two seasons, are sure to be the favorites in this one, but mainly because the Lions are a bit of an unknown since this will be their first game. That doesn’t stop West Texas from going into the game with a ton confidence.
“Trust me, they aren’t ready for us,” Smith said.
Las Cruces, and Brown, however feel differently.
“There’s an old saying that echoes throughout the Kingdom, ‘We stay ready, so we don’t have to get ready,’” Brown said. “One mindset for every game: play King football and execute.”
The pre-season match-up will be a measuring stick of sorts for the Lions, who begin Minor Professional Football League play in roughly one month.
“Our players are excited to have their first challenge be against a good and well-respected team,” Rose said. “We’re not shy of the challenge and we will always play to win. It’s a win-win for us, win or lose. We’re probably expected to lose, so if we win, we’ll make some noise in the minor professional world.”
The game is set to kick off at 2p.m. at Zia Middle School in Las Cruces.
“It will be a good test for our players and coaches, but in the end, we want that win,” Rose said.