The 2018 Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League season has already seen its share of surprises and it’s still only the beginning. Last weekend, both the Mobile Generals and Gulf Coast Gators kicked off the year with solid wins to set up this week’s APDFL Game of the Week.
The Generals, currently ranked No. 3, are coming off an 18-2 win over the Louisiana Tigers.
“Last week’s win was good win for us,” Generals owner Jerome James told Developmental Football USA. “It was the first time we put together a full offense and defense with pads on. Lots of room for improvement, but I was overall impressed. The guys overcame adversity, which is what you need to be successful.”
The Gators held on to a 16-12 win over the Bayou Vipers last week, which bumped them up to No. 6 in the rankings.
“The Vipers came to play last week,” Gators owner Phil Carver told Developmental Football USA. “It was probably good for us to be in a tight one the first week. It really showed us where we need to get better.”
Cornerback Dee Garrett led the Gators defense with two interceptions and a 73-yard touchdown on a punt return.
“Our front four played really well too,” Carver said. “Unofficially we held the Vipers to 162 yards, just 21 rushing.”
That same Gulf Coast front four will need to come on strong again this weekend if they want to improve to 2-0 against a rock solid Generals team.
“We know they want to be physical up front and control the game,” Carver said. “They’ve got some players we’re familiar with.
“I think we’ll need to limit their big plays. We need to win the turnover battle and establish the ground game on offense. Look for a return touchdown or a big special teams play maybe to be the difference.”
Wide receiver John Moffett was key to the Generals first win, like he was in many in 2017. However, toppling a team like the Gators is going to take a team effort.
“Consistency is the key to his success,” James said. “He works hard at practice and plays harder in game time situations.
“This week, we all need to step up. It’s never about an individual person or group. It’s always about a team effort and that includes the coaches.”
With a President’s Cup on both teams’ minds, they’ve got to stay big-picture minded but also handle business with each step along the way.
“This game and the next game means the same,” James said. “Every game is important to us. You can’t take any team or game for granted.
“The Gators are a good team, well-coached, which is important. We will have to play Generals football to beat these guys. They’re a lot like us with the combining of two great teams. There’s a lot of talent on the Gators team. We will need to keep it simple and make them pay for their mistakes.”
While it’s not uncommon for league champions in tough leagues to suffer a few losses in the regular season, going undefeated makes for an even more special season.
“Obviously, a win this week keeps us on track for where we expect to be,” Carver said. “Getting to 2-0 is the only way we can get to 3-0, so this weekend is big.”
Generals keys to the game: “We must not make turnovers and we must force the opponent into third and long situation, make them desperate for yards and forced turnovers. Who has the better defense will win this game.”
Gators Keys to the game: “We’ll need the offense to step up and finish drives this week. We came up empty in the red zone on three occasions Saturday.”