Coming into this season and coming off of last year’s Midwest Football Alliance Championship, the Kansas City Bulldogs had higher aspirations than being where they are today – a three-loss team.
However, three losses never stopped them from winning a championship one year ago and the games that matter the most for 2017 are still yet to be played.
“Last year we had three losses and we won a championship, and this year we’ve got three losses,” Bulldogs owner Tyrone Groves told Developmental Football USA. “It would end up being the exact same thing if we end up in the championship. I think our record would be the exact same.”
Last season, the Bulldogs lost to the Sioux City Stampede 19-14 in the regular season, but upended them 28-20 in the championship game. Just two weeks ago, the Bulldogs fell to the Stampede 21-19, but seeing them again in the MFA Championship is a real possible scenario.
“The Sioux City Stampede is a good team, disciplined and we just lost,” Groves said. “We gave it up. Normally, our defense says, ‘If we’re up, then we’re up and we shouldn’t lose, we shouldn’t let anybody score.’ We had a few fumbles in the red zone where we could have come away with field goals. Then, we had to settle with field goals when we were at the one-yard line a couple of times, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Hard losses, but we can still meet our end goal of defending our championship.
“We’re definitely trying to repeat history and they’re definitely trying not to let it happen. It would be interesting, to put it mildly, if that’s how it works out.”
Although they wanted a different outcome, the Bulldogs’ other two losses to nationally respected teams are nothing to get discouraged about. The Bulldogs opened up this season with a 28-6 loss to the Colorado Greyhawks, then recently suffered a 14-3 loss to the St. Paul Pioneers – a game that was called early due to weather.
“Obviously, they are a good team, but we didn’t get to finish the whole game,” Groves said. “It was a good game, but we were having a few minor hiccups.”
Offensively, the Josh White to Deshawn Hammond connection continues to be big for the Bulldogs.
“Those guys are extremely consistent,” Groves said. “Really, our receiving core as a whole has been pretty consistent.”
Defensively, former Wyoming Cowboy Dorsey Golston III continues to lead the charge, aided by a swarming defense.
“He’s one of the field generals on defense,” Groves said. “We have a new guy, Brandon Jenkins, he brings a lot to the table and Demetrios Walker. On defense, there’s a lot of guys.
“Will Griffin, he normally leads the league in interceptions, that’s another good guy. Our other cornerback, Kevin Funches, him and Will were No. 1 and No. 2 in interceptions last year.”
The Bulldogs have their final regular season game July 15 against the Omaha Stockmen, who have been named by the majority as the league’s most improved team and a team never to be underestimated.
“If we beat the Stockmen, then we would definitely be the No. 2 seed and have a home playoff game,” Groves said. “If the Stampede somehow lose a couple of games, we would jump them. I think the way the playoffs look now, No. 1 and No. 2 doesn’t matter too much. Either way, it’s going to be a home game against one of the teams that are all tied right now, so it’ll be a similar match-up, record-wise against any of those teams.”
The Midwest Titans and Omaha Stockmen are currently tied for third place with 3-2 records and the Des Moines Blaze is still in the picture at 3-3. None of those three teams should be overlooked in a semifinal match-up that Kansas City would have to get through to return to the MFA Championship Game in Omaha on Aug. 12.
“I think what it’s going to take is everybody just getting together, being on the same page, hyping up the offense, getting our execution better and I think we’ll have a good shot at repeating,” Groves said. “We would be the first team to ever repeat other than the Blaze in the MFA. We’re the only team to win the championship in the MFA other than the Blaze, so we could kind of set some new records at the same time.”
A well-decorated team with a rich history, such as the Blaze, now flirting with possibly missing the playoffs is a testament to the quality of competition in the MFA.
“We’ve got a real quality league,” Groves said. “Obviously, the Des Moines Blaze, their history speaks for itself. Us and Sioux City, what we’ve done as organizations kind of speaks for itself and the Omaha Stockmen. They are a team that has improved a whole lot, where they are basically contenders now.
“We love competition and that’s why we go to different states and try to play everybody we can that’s really good and that have won championships. That’s why we try to load our schedule up. I wish we could play defending champions all season. The good thing with our league, we get a bunch of those games built in.”