“Our team is more than ready for the challenge,” Eagles owner Brylon Bradford told Developmental Football USA. “This game was picked, simply because of their notoriety. They were in the (Rio Grande Football League), they moved to the (Minor Professional Football League), which everybody thought ruined our chances of playing them.
“We get to play a championship caliber opponent before we even hit the regular season. We want to play the best and play against the best to show that we are the best. That’s the only way it’s ever going to be noted. We don’t shy away from competition. We want everything to be professional, when we deal with anybody. We want competition and we want to play the best team in the state of Texas in every region, and what better region to start than West Texas.”
The Pride finished their inaugural season in 2016 as finalists in the MPFL with a 10-2 record, and they could be even better this season.
However, that’s not something the Lubbock Liberty Eagles seem too concerned about.
“Opening up at home in front of all of our friends and family, our guys are going to be pumped and ready to make it happen,” Bradford said. “Because of our limited exposure, people don’t know too much about us. They don’t know who’s on our roster, who we’ve got, who we don’t got, what we run, what we don’t run. They’re going in there blind and that gives us somewhat of an advantage.”
While the Eagles do not have a roster posted online, multiple players can be recognized by recent photos, including former West Texas Outlaws running back Anthony Martin, who was a collegiate track athlete.
“I really feel like we’re loaded, everywhere, every position, no matter what string it is, we’re loaded,” Bradford said. “Our starting receiving corps is probably three deep at every spot. Our backfield is a monstrous backfield, we’ve got bullets in the chamber everywhere you go, so we’re not going to miss. I wish I could say a specific name, but without us stepping on the field, without us proving anything, we’re loaded across the board and we’ll leave it to the public to pick out who the standouts are.”
In addition to Martin, a few other known Eagles bring former collegiate experience onto the field.
“We’ve got Corey White, he was a standout at Eastern New Mexico,” Bradford said. “We’ve got Anthony Martin, he was a standout at Baylor University, running track. Dusty Massey played at Sul Ross, just to name a few.”
Tay Grant, the brother of Miami Dolphins and former Texas Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant, also plays for the Eagles, Bradford said.
Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s pre-season match-up, Bradford wants to make one thing clear.
“We are not any other team here in Lubbock,” Bradford said. “We are not the old Tornados, we are not the old West Texas Outlaws, we are not the old Bison. We are not any team in Lubbock and we are trying to change the complexity in this city. We wish everybody the best. We want the Outlaws to do great, we want anybody in Lubbock playing on any other team to do great, except when they go against us.”
Bradford, who played for each of the other Lubbock teams at one time or another, wanted to step out and do something different and start a team. However, he pursued his goal patiently, after taking his time to learn a little bit from each experience along the way.
“I started learning, started looking and finding out things and started getting the necessities I need,” Bradford said. “I developed a flag football team, the Lubbock Liberty, and played a flag season. I went to the Outlaws games, the Drillers games, the Pride games and just watched the workings. You learn from other people, you learn what to do and what not to do. That’s when I got together my coaching staff together, about six months before my first tryout.
“In October, we had our first tryout. Before our first tryout we secured a few sponsors, then we had the first tryout and Bodyworks came out and seen what we’re doing with the type of response we got. They decided to weigh in on the possibility of sponsoring us.”
Bodyworks jumped on board as a sponsor, in addition to Elite Steam Carpet Cleaning, Five Star Lawn Care, Buffalo Wild Wings, Play It Again Sports, ABC Bank, Durham and Courtyard-Marriott Hotel, Bradford said.
“We donated over 300 toys for Toys for Tots, we have a reading session now that our uniforms have gotten released,” Bradford said. “We’ll be reading to the kids at some of the elementary schools and (recently) we sold out our corporate sponsor, Buffalo Wild Wings, during our jersey release party.”
The Eagles will get to don their snazzy new uniforms on Saturday and then again when RGFL play kicks off in one month.
“With the RGFL, it was a team decision to join the RGFL, to do everything together,” Bradford said. “If my ownership and administration committed to them, we’re going to stick it out.”
In addition to the Eagles, the East Division features two more teams new to the league in the West Texas Drillers and the West Texas Scorpions.
“The West Texas Scorpions didn’t play last year,” Bradford said. “The Curry County Cats now have the Curry County Chiefs, so you don’t know where the good players are, where the bad players are. The New Mexico Rush had a lot of guys from our hometown, from Lubbock, that went to play with the Scorpions, so they are going to look different.
“Right now, the only consistency is the Drillers, so right now everybody is picking them as the team to beat. So, if you asked me, I would say them. (Drillers owner Michael Heetland) is unorthodox and runs a top-notch organization and he just wants to play ball. He don’t like all the policies and logistics, he just wants to play ball. If you want to talk about a legacy, they didn’t take a year off like the Scorpions, they played last year. If you talk about a team that’s strong, that’s them.”
“As far as the West is concerned, you’ve got teams folding in El Paso, teams switching around,” Bradford said. “The team that I think is under wraps is the Las Cruces Kings, they’ve always been good, they’ve always competed and always been recognized. They don’t deal with the turmoil of teams folding and losing players, because they’re in a whole other state. I think they’ve been forgotten by a few people that are sleeping on them and I think they’re going to be a pretty good team out of the West.
“Because of tenure and controversies, I’d like to say the Las Cruces Kings and the West Texas Drillers are going to be the teams to beat and I’d also like to say, we’re going to beat them both.”