The latest rankings by National Football Events have been released and the Kansas City Bulldogs find themselves ranked No. 12 in the country as they gear up for the Midwest Football Alliance Playoffs and the road to defend their title.
“We know the target is on our back,” Bulldogs head coach Ron Cherry told Developmental Football USA. “We also have a bigger goal in mind and in order to accomplish that, we understand we must take care of what’s in front of us first. With teams like the Omaha Stockmen and the Des Moines Blaze in the playoffs, we must be dialed in every snap and take nothing for granted.”
Last season, the Stockmen found their rhythm at just the right time and made it to the championship game before Kansas City got the best of them. Also a household name at this level, the Blaze have acquired their share of past championships and national recognition and won’t be taken lightly.
With a looming match-up against at least one of these teams determining whether or not Kansas City will advance to the bigger stage this year, the Bulldogs will have to keep their train moving forward. However, that’s not all that’s on the line, the Bulldogs also look to continue their conference winning streak beyond two full years.
“This has by far been one of the toughest seasons we have had to endure, if not the toughest,” Cherry said. “We have traveled thousands of miles, played some of the best teams in the country, and we are still holding steadfast to our Day 1 goal – to be among the elite teams in semi pro. I know for a fact we haven’t played our best football yet. We’ve dealt with a lot of injuries this season and we just haven’t had that perfect game yet.”
Coming in ranked No. 16 on that same list is the Wisconsin Hitmen, who handed the Bulldogs their only loss of the season earlier this year in out-of-league play. The Bulldogs, however, handled business against the likes of the St. Paul Pioneers, Minneapolis Warriors and other top out-of-league teams.
“The Hitmen impressed us the most on the field this year,” Cherry said. “They are a very deep and organized team. It’s easy at this level for teams to lose focus when they lead games or lose composure in close games. The Hitmen played a very physical game from start to finish, kept things clean in-between the whistles, then invited our organization out to dinner with their club after. That was the game that everyone in our organization understood we must keep dialed in and focused for all 60 minutes of a football game.”
At No. 12, the Bulldogs are certainly still in the hunt to extend their season well beyond this summer, but they’ll cross that bridge when they get there as the whole season hinges on each upcoming game.
“Right now, the focus remains on league play and defending the championship,” Cherry said. “That is the first goal and the foundation to what we set our eyes on. We are looking to set up a state championship and then hopefully earn a spot in the regional tournament as well this year.”
Offensively, the Bulldogs are led by quarterback Barron Bradshaw, who has compiled 1,891 yards and 17 touchdowns through eight games.
“We have had quite a few pleasant surprises from the likes of Doug White and Travae Jones, too,” Cherry said. “It would be wrong if we didn’t mention the way the offensive line has stepped up the last few games as well.”
Throughout their history, defense has been the bread and butter of this organization and 2019 has been no different. Cornerback Will Griffin boasts a league-best eight interceptions and safety Tyrone Groves leads the league with 49 tackles.
“The defense as a whole is playing extremely well,” Cherry said. “Those are just a couple guys on that side of the ball that continue to play extremely well for us.”
The Bulldogs have been busy off the field too, helping out with inner-city youth at different times throughout the season.
“Continuing to be positive role models throughout our city remains a pillar in what our organization stands for,” Cherry said.
Giving back isn’t just a Bulldogs’ thing, rather it’s a role all organizations in the MFA have taken head on.
“Between the Quad City Nighthawks donating 100 percent of their gate revenue for a game to the flood relief efforts, to the Chillicothe Swarm earning the Business Award for their volunteer efforts,” Cherry said. “The Blaze and Stockmen continue to be staples in their communities as well, making visits to schools and hosting youth nights at their games. This year as a whole the league stepped up all around off the field.”