For teams in the Texas United Football Association who are still playing, every game is win or go home from here on out with the 2019 Playoffs now under way. While it’s a historic weekend for the Leander Wolfpack, who will be hosting their first ever playoff game, there is little room for celebration as they look to bounce back from last weekend’s 44-18 loss to the San Antonio Titans.
“The regular season is over, now the new season begins and everybody, once the playoffs start has the same record, 0-0, and all that matters is putting together a solid performance on the field,” Wolfpack co-owner Mark Rogers told Developmental Football USA. “The guys have been challenged in practice. We’ve thrown some personnel changes at them, we’ve thrown some scheme changes at them, we’ve tried to put them in as much chaos as possible and tried to create some success to overcome any adversity.”
The Wolfpack have only dropped two games all season, both to the undefeated defending champion Titans last week and in the season opener.
“Those guys came to play,” Rogers said. “They were very well prepared and they made plays when they needed to and they took advantage of some of the opportunities that we weren’t able to take advantage of. Our defense played out of scheme, out of character and we’re looking forward to getting back on the field this Saturday and getting things right again.”
Saturday’s opponent, the Texas Crusaders, almost handed the Wolfpack their second loss of the season, on the road earlier this month. The Crusaders led for the majority of the game, which eventually went into overtime, before Leander escaped on a Wanya Ward overtime opening kickoff return for a touchdown.
“What we didn’t do well the first time we played these guys is that we didn’t contain their quarterback and our defensive side of the football played lazy and fatigued,” Rogers said. “We’ve already put the challenge out to the guys, ‘You played out of character that game, played lazy and played tired,’ so we challenged their conditioning and we challenged their mentality and I feel good about how they’re going to respond.”
Due to the TUFA’s alignment to NFL Playoff Rules which re-seed the remaining teams each week, with a win, the Wolfpack would advance to play the Texas Colts, and with a loss the Crusaders would advance to play the Titans.
“This is our first playoff game at home and this is the Wolfpack’s first playoff game period,” Rogers said. “This time last year, we were sitting at home and watching a team we were a whole rank ahead of take our playoff spot due to a bogus tiebreaker right at the end of the season. The guys have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. The No. 1 goal is for them to take back what they’ve earned. Last year they rightfully earned a playoff spot and had it taken from them.”
Against teams other than the Titans, the Wolfpack have played their best football of the season at home, which should bode well for them on Saturday as they look to continue their historic season with a playoff win and extend what has already been a very long season.
“I think our offense and defensive lines have a done a pretty good job,” Rogers said. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement the last few weeks in the trenches. The coaching staff has done a good job keeping these guys focused. We had that stretch of four weeks with no games and still played a 10-game season. People get bored, people get burnt out, so hats off to the coaches staff for showing up every day, getting the job done and keeping these guys motivated.”
In their last meeting, the Wolfpack and the Crusaders came into the contest as strangers. Not any more. Both teams now know what to expect from one another and which players the other most heavily relies on.
“They had a couple of good receivers that made some big plays for them last time,” Rogers said. “We’ve got to be less lazy, our linebackers have got to be able to drop into coverage. That’s where they really hurt us, their quarterback was really smart, he was able to read at the line and check off and make good throws, we’ve got to mix things up better and be less predictable.”