Several developmental teams around the country are making a case for themselves as a national power and in the Southeast Region, the Georgia Cardinals have really been making noise in the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League.
The Bird Gang is the APDFL’s No. 1 team and the only remaining unbeaten at 7-0 in league play and 11-0 overall on the year. However, like practically every weekend in APDFL play, the Cardinals have another big test this weekend.
“We’ve got the Game of the Week this week, a big game this week against the Greater New Orleans Jaguars (5-1),” Cardinals owner Leonard Holmes told Developmental Football USA. “They are No. 1 in the National Conference and we’re No. 1 in the American Conference, but we’ve got to go to New Orleans this week to collect rent.”
This will be the first ever meeting between the two teams and should be a battle until the very end.
“We’ve never played them, but we’ve heard a lot about them,” Holmes said. “They’re one of the premier teams in New Orleans, we’ve heard about them from a few teams and seen a few highlights of them. They beat the team that won the APDFL last year (Oklahoma City Bounty Hunters). They beat them 14-13 earlier this year.”
Each team is located in a hotbed of talent, so it should be an exciting game by all accounts. From an Xs and Os standpoint, the Bird Gang feels pretty good about how they match up.
“They love to run the ball from what we’ve seen,” Holmes said. “They do have one receiver, he’s pretty good. He’s their slot receiver, he’s real fast. They love to run the ball, that’s their strength, so that’s what we like. We have a very stout defense, we have a lot of speed and that’s one thing, by scouting them, they haven’t faced a defense with as much speed as we have.
“We have speed all around on defense, we’re strong in the middle, and along the d-line. Our corners are real aggressive, with height at 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4. They haven’t seen a defense like ours. How we execute this game plan will dictate the outcome of this game.”
Elite defenses like the Cardinals’ are loaded across the board. Even still, a few players have stood out from among the pack and have their names leading the league in various stat categories.
“We have quite a few players over there,” Holmes said. “Our linebacker, Martin Rolland, he’s actually the No. 1 linebacker in the APDFL, he’s leading the league in tackles and right behind him is our big nose guard, Ortari Blount, nicknamed ‘New York.’ That’s what everybody calls him. He’s a monster. Them two right there. It’s hard to double team him, he’s just that strong and physical.
“Also, our safety, his name is Derirck Maxey. He’s a pretty physical safety. I’m looking forward to him doing big things this Saturday as well.”
A great team can get by with being one-dimensional, but elite teams are dangerous in all three phases of the game. Needless to say, the Cardinals are no less loaded offensively.
“We got to this position by having a balanced offense,” Holmes said. “Our offense is very balanced. We have some experience at receiver. Right now, we have the No. 2 receiver in the league, Tirone Morris, he just scored three touchdowns two weeks ago and then we have Chris Williams, he’s the No. 5 receiver in the league. He’s a special teams threat too.
“Our offensive line has improved tremendously, led by Steven Leonard. He’s the center.”
Next week, the Bird Gang will travel to play the up-and-coming East Lake War Eagles, which should not be overlooked.
“If we win these two games, we will have a No. 1 seed going into the playoffs, which start June 3,” Holmes said. “We’ll be at home. We’re trying to be the first traveling team from Georgia to go undefeated all the way through post-season and the first team from Georgia to win the APDFL. It’s never been done, so there’s a lot we’re playing for this spring.”
With games against the Jaguars, the War Eagles, then the APDFL Playoffs, the Cardinals goals will be tested each week from here on out.
“In the American Conference, you have Prattville Patriots,” Holmes said. “They are very great organization. They’re 7-1 right now and they’ve been pretty good over there. If they win out and we win out, we can meet them in the Division Championship. You have the Opelika Chiefs, they are No. 3 and they’re pretty good. They went to the APDFL Championship last year and they have one loss on their record. It can be either one of them teams. Both of them are equally matched. As far as the championship, we’re definitely looking forward to get there and we’re looking to play the Oklahoma City Bounty Hunters, which won it last year.”
Whenever the Bird Gang is finished with APDFL play, they will begin play in the World Developmental Football League during the summer season.
“We have unfinished business in the WDFL,” Holmes said. “We got knocked out and we couldn’t get that ring like we wanted to get. Our slogan will be ‘Unfinished Business’, because we’ve got to take care of business if we’re going to collect all this rent in the WDFL and I think we got a great chance at doing it.
“My wife, Cindy Holmes, she’s the owner as well, I didn’t have any rent money to bring home to her last year, so it made it tough for us this spring. We’re trying to put the Cardinals out there nationally known.”
The Bird Gang is definitely on track towards being nationally known with the success they’re having this year, along with their revamped online presence.
“I just brought our photographer and videographer, Jason Barnett, I just promoted him to general manager of the Georgia Cardinals,” Holmes said. “He’s responsible for our website. It’s very professional. His artwork, his pictures, his fliers, he’s the best at it. He does all our designs, everything, and our marketing. I’m glad we got him in that position.