One off-season can drastically affect a football team at any level, for better or worse, but an off-season at the developmental level tends to be a little bit more extreme with some teams disappearing overnight and super teams being built in a short amount of time.
Enter the Golden Triangle Seminoles, a .500 team one year ago, now the topic of title talk in the Texas United Football Association.
“We’ve been practicing since July,” Seminoles owner Wilford Scypion Jr. told Developmental Football USA. “We’ve been doing OTAs, training camp and mandatory practices.”
However,it isn’t just the workouts that have the Seminoles picked by Developmental Football USA to win the TUFA this season.
“Lamar University is well known around here and Prairie View is well known,” Scypion said. “(Former Prairie View A&M quarterback) Trey Green, I personally thought Trey was going to the NFL. We saw his mechanics, his footwork, I thought he was gone. Next thing you know, I got a phone call in the middle of the night and they said that Trey Green wants to come play for the Seminoles.”
At a level where owners and coaches have learned not to hold their breath, the speculative Scypion was speechless.
“I looked up at my next practice and sure enough, Trey Green was at my next practice,” Scypion said.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound, former Beaumont Ozen star, still relatively fresh out of college instantly made the Seminoles a contender, but he wasn’t the only off-season addition.
“We took wide receivers from Lamar University,” Scypion said. “We took Anthony Lee, he made the practice squad for the Atlanta Falcons, then he was cut and released and came back home. We knew instantly it was going to be a good year. I’ve got a quarterback with four wide receivers that run under a 4.5.”
Speed is most dangerous in space, so Scypion knew he had the perfect components for an effective spread offense.
“Our fastest receiver is Bradley, he runs a 4.38,” Scypion said. “The reason he’s not in the league, from my understanding, is that he is too short. We built on the speed to actually run a spread offense. With the spread, you have to make sure you have the right quarterback, the right receivers, the right running back. You’ve got to have the timing down. A lot of teams have guys that are hardly at practice, so they don’t have the timing down. That’s why the spread fails. When you get the timing down, the spread changes.”
Of course at an underpublicized level of football, not many people outside of the Golden Triangle knew this year’s Seminoles would look a lot different.
“When we played the Texas Red Raiders in December in a Toys for Tots game, people were saying the Seminoles were going to get blown out because last year we were 6-6,” Scypion said. “No one knew what we were going to do and we wound up losing with no time on the clock, 42-40.”
Playing last year’s TUFA runner-up to the wire caused the Seminoles to turn some heads, but that was just the beginning of Golden Triangle’s rise to the spotlight.
The Seminoles had another tough match-up against a West Texas powerhouse, the Drillers, in AT&T Stadium the first weekend of the new year
“When we were getting ready to play the Drillers, I told my guys, ‘Cowboys Stadium, the second time. We’ve finally got everybody back together. Let’s show the world that we are the real deal.’
“My guys looked at me and said, ‘Okay, coach, let’s go ahead and run this thing.’ Was I surprised at one point the score was 28-7? Not at all. We not only beat them on offense, defense and special teams. We dominated all three phases of the game and teams don’t normally do that to the Drillers.”
While the win over the Drillers was certainly something to be proud of, the Seminoles still have a tough league slate kicking off in just a few short weeks. Then, come Week 6, the Seminoles will get another shot at the Red Raiders.
“Week 6, that game is going to be huge,” Scypion said. “I don’t see the Red Raiders losing and I don’t see us losing at all. I honestly think Week 6 will be one of the best games of the season. It’s No. 1 versus No. 2. It’s going to have an impact on the playoffs. It’s going to have an impact on home field throughout the playoffs. Whoever wins that game on Week 6 controls their own destiny. Whoever wins that game should have home field throughout the playoffs, all the way to the Super Bowl.”
While the December meeting between the two teams ended up differently than most people thought, well, this next one could too.
“Since the Red Raiders game, I’ve picked up eight more key players,” Scypion said. “To be honest, I feel if they went to any team in the league, they would start.”
One major recent addition for the Seminoles is backup quarterback Labrie Taylor.
“He’s had multiple tryouts overseas,” Scypion said. “He’s from Port Arthur, runs a 4.43, ran an official 4.46 for his combine. He’s a slot receiver, but he’s a quarterback that can make every throw possible. He can throw 60 yards, accurately.
“The other thing about Labrie is that he kicks field goals. I’ve seen him kick 60-yard field goals. He’s one of those hidden gems that comes from Port Arthur Memorial. He beat Galena Park North Shore three teams from a freshman to a senior. He was on the state semifinalist Memorial team they had.”
Defensively, Scypion is excited about his new, big defensive tackle Javion Sloan.
“He had offers from Texas A&M, but wound up going to Blinn,” Scypion said. “We picked up a lot of key players since the Red Raiders game. Our roste has really increased from 48 to now 64. We have a rotating roster. We have guys going in and out. That was one of our biggest goals, not only do we stay committed to getting guys to the next level, but getting more guys in the game.”
Another key piece of the puzzle this season is offensive coordinator Leland Hamilton.
“You’ll be hearing that name a lot this year,” Scypion said. “I don’t brag on myself, but I always brag on my coaches. The guy’s mind is very sharp. He can break down a defense like it’s nothing.”
While the Seminoles are looking for their first league championship, they’ll have to achieve a few more firsts before they get there.
“We’ve never beaten the Galveston Monarchs,” Scypion said. “I told T.C., ‘I’m going to beat you this year.’”