The Charity Bowl was for a good cause, but that didn’t stop the Midway Marauders from running all over the Oak Park Sharks, 46-0, this past weekend.
Midway, which is part of the Midwest Professional Indoor Football League, relied on an offensive flurry from an extremely talented backfield to put up nearly 50 points on Oak Park. Quarterback Andre Locke threw for three touchdowns and the running backs behind him punched it in three times on the ground — including two from Richard Dean. Wideout Marcel Pointdexter, who could be one of the best athletes in the MPIF, caught one of Lock’s touchdowns, only outdone by Jermel Smith, who caught two.
Offensively, it was an extremely impressive game for the Marauders, but it was the defense that came away as the unit of the game. Pitching a shutout as a defense is tough to do in any league at any level, yet Midway was able to keep the Sharks off the scoreboard thanks to elite performances from a plethora of players.
Defensive end Vontae Lashley picked up four tackles and two sacks in limited playing time. “He is relentless with his pass-rush and uses his speed to often beat one-on-one blocks,” Owner Chris Matthews said of his defensive end. “He really works hard in every practice and he’s a very dedicated and loyal player — it’s great to see him playing at such a high level, he has all the confidence in the world.”
Luey Nunez led the team with 10 tackles all on his own and Reggie Haynes picked up an interception for the Marauders. It wasn’t the only takeaway of the game for Midway, but it was the only pick. Linebacker Lavert Smith was able to secure a fumble and he helped out the offense by taking it back all the way to the house for six.
Smith’s touchdown was part of an incredible showing for Midway’s defense. As a whole, the unit notched 10 sacks.
“I feel like competition brings the best out of men. My team has the best players in Chicago and I feel as though they go against the best players every day in practice, so when they play other teams it’s just like a regular practice to them because they are so used to going against great players,” Matthews said when recapping the domination to Developmental Football USA. “All of my players are dedicated and loyal so they all come to practice and compete at a very high level because they know competition is stiff and the next man is just as good as they are, so they know they have to compete and perform at a very high level in order to keep their spot on the team.”
Matthews holds his players and organization to a high standard, and a lot of that is because of pin-point recruiting. He knows exactly the level of talent he’s looking for in the players he brings into the Marauders’ organization, and it’s all about competition.
“I always say that if you surround yourself with great players it will make you a great player because it will bring out every ounce of good play that you have in your body ,” he explained.
Matthews feels the team chemistry isn’t exactly where it needs to be just yet, but the unit has been practicing together since October and all of Midway’s players have bought into the system. This is despite the fact that some of the players on the team often play against each other in outdoor football.
“When we play outdoor football most of these guys are on different teams so they are enemies, but they know that will we come together for indoor football they are all brothers and it is amazing to see the bond that they have created from the start,” Matthews said. “These guys really rally together and wins make the chemistry better, but also the fact that they spend at least one day a week together and all of the other events that we have.”
One of the big team-building things the Mauraders do is at-home film study. They all get together, order some food and just get to know each other while breaking down the tape. That’s one of the keys to greatness and obviously something that Matthews and the organization focuses on. It’s not just about what they do on the field, but off the field as well.
Speaking of, outside of the big win, the Charity Bowl was a great event for Midway. Both teams came out at halftime and donated money, autographed things like jerseys and the game ball, and it all went to the “Protect the Shorties” organization, which is a group that focuses on helping the youth in the Chicago area.
“The top members of the group — Akeem Williams, Jory Duke, and Bub Coleman — do so much for the city’s youth. It was great to see the smiles on all of the kids’ faces during the game, as the players signed autographs, and took the field and ran around with the kids,” Matthews said. “It was an epic event and we feel that we touched the hearts of a lot of Chicago’s youth. There were over 100 children in attendance.”
Midway plays next in a pre-season game against the Stateline Sting on Feb. 25.