Throughout the course of the season, the Central Texas Apaches have proven to have one of the top defenses in the Texas United Football League. With their regular season over with, the Apaches are sitting at 12-3 (8-2 in TUFL), looking solid as the playoff picture begins to take shape.
“There are 24 teams, so a lot of them I haven’t seen firsthand,” Apaches owner Keith Russ told Developmental Football USA. “We can just about expect to play the DeSoto Tarantulas again, if we keep winning and they keep winning. The way the league is doing the bracket, they are taking the whole league and dividing us into seeds. I recently saw we were predicted to be the No. 4 seed and the Tarantulas were predicted to be the No. 2 seed.”
The official TUFL brackets will come out after teams finish make-up games that were rescheduled, primarily due to weather.
This season, the Apaches split their series with DeSoto, 1-1, with Central Texas taking the most recent match-up 20-2, handing the Tarantulas their only loss of the season.
“After Week 3, I don’t think we gave up more than a touchdown in any game,” Russ said. “I think we’ve held everybody to six or less and there have been several shut outs.”
Strong-side linebacker John Bonham has helped ignite the Apaches defense, standing out with his hard-nosed, physical play.
“The kid is a beast,” Russ said. “Usually if I hear a big hit on the field – if I’m not looking at the field and I hear a big hit – I pretty much know who it was. He’s really been our strong point of the defense.”
Bonham has had the luxury of playing behind a strong defensive line that messes up most offensive plays well enough on their own, allowing the linebackers to run free.
“We’ve got a rotation of about six defensive linemen and all six of them are constantly in the backfield making plays,” Russ said.
Offensively, quarterback Rocc White has had fun racking up some impressive numbers, while also managing the games well.
“Without looking at the stats, he’s probably got close to 35 or 40 touchdown passes (through 15 games),” Russ said. “He doesn’t really turn the ball over often and he’s gotten smarter as the year has gone along as far as where to put the ball. We run a lot of RPOs and he’s gotten better with his decisions as far as when to keep it, or to pitch, or throw the ball.”
To supplement White’s productivity in the passing game, the Apaches have also had a solid running game behind their deep stable of athletes.
“We’ve got five or six different running backs, and each game a different one steps up,” Russ said. “L.J. Holmes has been our running back for two years now and he’s always dependable to make big plays. After Week 3, we signed two offensive linemen, so no one touches our quarterback from the left side.”
Do the Apaches have enough cars on their train and enough fuel in the tank to take the TUFL Championship?
“I think we do,” Russ said. “I think with the guys we signed before the deadline and the contributions they’ve made since then, I think that do we do. It’s going to depend on our defense, they keep us in games. If they only give up six points per game, it’s not real hard. We’ve just got to score once or twice.”