In the off-season, most developmental football teams set their sights on a league championship, but this year’s undefeated run in the Independent Football League of Arkansas wasn’t enough for the Cabot Bucks.
After the Bucks finished with a 5-0 league record – including a 20-6 win over the Arkansas Bulls (4-2) expansion team in the championship game – they decided to challenge themselves by playing some out-of-state teams from the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League, which is among the most competitive at this level.
So far, that has resulted in two losses to the nationally known Oklahoma City Bounty Hunters, but the Bucks still have two more opportunities to redeem themselves and a chance to market their organization.
“As of right now we have games scheduled against the Mississippi Dynasty and the Mississippi Sting as our last two regular season games,” Bucks owner Terry Jordan told Developmental Football USA. “Our goal is, a lot of teams from Arkansas don’t have a good reputation and that’s what we’re trying to build. We’re trying to knock off some of these teams and we’re getting ready for our state playoffs, which start at the end of May.”
In addition to hopefully upsetting some APDFL teams, the Bucks have their sights set on a Class A State Championship against other top in-state teams, such as the Arkansas Tornados, Arkansas Ducks or the Arkansas Steelers.
“Those look like, as of now, to be the teams that will make the playoffs,” Jordan said.
The Tornados knocked the Bucks out of the first round of the playoffs last year, 32-26, but Cabot got a little payback by opening this season with a 22-18 win.
A state championship, or even a good showing in the state playoffs, would help Cabot make some major strides towards their team goals.
“In the immediate future, we want to win games,” Jordan said. “But, in the future, we want to be a program that gives guys a second opportunity to play football, and, if they want to continue their careers, then actually get guys tryouts.”
Jordan recently took one of his players to try out for East Mississippi Community College and hopes that is just the first opportunity of many to come.
“I want all of these guys to make it somewhere, but until they do, I’ll still be here,” Jordan said.
In the meantime, Jordan and the Bucks plan to continue winning games and building their brand.
“The biggest thing for us this year is our defense,” Jordan said. “In the red zone, we’ve only let teams score seven times out of 25 visits, so that’s a pretty big deal for us.”
Three of those seven scores came against Oklahoma City. Remove those and the Bucks have allowed four scores in 21 attempts – less than a 20 percent success rate for opposing offenses.
The Bucks defense is led by defensive end Kyle Williams and linebacker Cordero McDonald. Williams has racked up 35 tackles, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles through eight games and McDonald has 79 tackles on the season.
“Kyle is a run-stopping defensive end and every time a quarterback gets out of the pocket, he pretty much gets a sack,” Jordan said. “His containment is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Cordero is a ball hawk and averages about 10 tackles per game.”
The secondary is held down by ball-hawking safety Randy Spears – who returned an interception back 97 yards for a touchdown with 1:40 left in the IFLA championship game to put the Bulls away – and cornerback Ethan McCoy.
“McCoy has been a mainstay at the cornerback position and all year he’s allowed five catches,” Jordan said. “He doesn’t get his hand on the ball a lot, but he has about 10 pass break-ups.”
Last year, Darieus Robinson won Defensive Back of the Year in the league, but he’s been playing behind center this year for the Bucks and has been a huge part of their success.
“He led our league last year with 12 interceptions, now this year he has thrown 10 touchdowns with five interceptions and he’s rushed for 10 touchdowns,” Jordan said. “He has more than 1,000 passing yards and 850 rushing yards.”
Six-foot-one, 230-pound running back Ervin Tisdale, who had the EMCC tryout, has been consistent in the back field all season, averaging roughly six yards per carry.
“We run the power spread offense out of the pistol,” Jordan said. “We run a lot of run pass option plays. Our main running back averages about 50 yards a game. He hasn’t gotten in end zone, but he hasn’t fumbled, either.”
Robinson’s main target through the air this year has been former Arkansas-Monticello wide receiver Tyron Simmons, a 6-foot-3, 180-pounder, who has 460 yards and five touchdowns on the year.
Look for the Bucks to continue to rise as one of the top teams from their area and reach new levels of success, which wouldn’t be possible without the support of their community.
“We really appreciate the city of Cabot for being so hospitable,” Jordan said.