Having outscored opponents 115-14 through three games, the Nebraska Nightmare is off to a hot start this season in the Midwest Football League at 3-0.
Nebraska’s defense opened up the season with back-to-back shutouts, 58-0 over the Midwest Mustangs and 31-0 over the Kansas City Panthers, before allowing their first points of the year on Saturday in a 26-14 win over the Kansas Diamondbacks.
“Kunta Punkett, they call him KP and Laquan Cribbs, they are the best two defensive tackles in the league,” Nightmare owner Rich Mailhot told Developmental Football US. “There’s nobody better, the defense starts with them and ends with them, they are just great players.”
Debo Plukett joins those two at defensive end to shore up a line that leads one of the best defenses around.
Offensively, skill players Jay Clark and Russel Hemeter have led the way with their playmaking ability in the open field.
“They can do anything,” Mailhot said. “When you get the ball in their hands, there’s nothing they can’t do. And, of course of our offensive line, we wouldn’t be able to run the ball and get pass protection without our offensive linemen.”
Quarterback George Oliver and wide receiver Donte Thomas are also key pieces for the Nightmare offense that’s averaging more than 38 points per game.
“We love the league we’re in, it’s a very competitive league,” Mailhot said. “We’re just fortunate that we brought a lot of new ballplayers in at key positions and they’re making us different and making us better.
“Talking to two other teams in the league, they think we’ll be there at the end, as long as we don’t have any injuries to any key players, they think we’ll be in the championship game.”
Several tests still await the Nightmare this season, but they’ve already gotten past two of the MFL’s toughest teams
“We already played the Diamondbacks and the defending champion Kansas City Panthers and beat both of them,” Mailhot said. “I think the Renegades will be tough and the two Minnesota teams are going to be tough, then we have the Shockers in Kansas City and the Diamondbacks again in July. The team we played last week, we play them again in Wichita and they’ll have the rest of their players so that’s going to be tough.”
The Nightmare play the Diamondbacks again on July 8 in Omaha, but other than that, Nebraska won’t see some of the leagues’ toughest teams until the playoffs.
“I think our biggest threats are from the other division,” Mailhot said. “The Chargers, the Bears and the Diamondbacks, teams like that, I think will be a challenge for us. The Bears and Chargers are not on our schedule.”
While there’s still a lot of football left to be played, there’s already some chatter that Nebraska will make it to the MFL Championship Game. While it’s certainly no guarantee they will get there, the other side of the league is a little more of a toss-up.
“I would think you’re probably looking at the Chargers or the Bears,” Mailhot said. “The Panthers can turn it around, they’re a solid football team. Jimmy’s got it going in the right direction, they’re young. The Diamondbacks are always good, they’re always a contender. Right now, I’d think it’s going to be the Bears or the Chargers, right now they’re winning every game on their side of the league.”
The Nightmare return home in two weeks as they host the Kansas City Marshals June 3, at Benson Stadium. Kickoff is at 8:00.
Mailhot and the Nightmare are well on their way to living out the vision they have for their developmental program in Omaha.
“Just to keep building every year, just get better and better,” Mailhot said. “We’re more after guys that have the heart to play football, we’re not after showboating, drama players, just guys that love to play football. I’d like to see guys go do something more, play for the Omaha Beef or the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s a lot of guys on this team I think can move up from here, that’s my goal, just to mentor these kids and keep building every year.”