“It’s been a great year,” Pride owner Harold Fuller told Developmental Football USA. “Some of the highlights have been watching the development of Cory Kyle at running back and seeing our defense gel together. Probably our biggest highlight to me, is some of the things we’ve been able to do off the field.”
The Pride designated their most recent home game as Gold Star Family Weekend, where they honored 12 gold-star or white-star families, who had either lost a loved one in action or to their with battle post-traumatic stress disorder following their return home.
“We had a luncheon and a dinner involved with that,” Fuller said. “Getting to know these families and give them the opportunity to get to know each other and the realization of how big of a problem our country is having with PTSD, I didn’t realize how big of a thing it is, how many guys that have killed themselves after they returned home. I wish there was more that we can do for that, to understand why that is happening.”
On the field, the West Texas Pride stand at 7-0, which includes two non-league wins each against both the Lubbock Liberty Eagles and the West Texas Scorpions. Still on deck, the Pride will play a home-and-home against the West Texas Outlaws of Lubbock, and tough road game against the El Paso Seminoles.
“Having to go to El Paso to play the Seminoles will probably be the biggest battle of the regular season when we face them,” Fuller said. “Then, two games against the Outlaws, anytime you play two games that close it can be some battles.
“The Seminoles are a younger team, but they come at you. They’re never going to lay down, they’re never going to give up. They play hard and that’s what we’re looking forward to Saturday, playing a team that will play hard from whistle to whistle.”
The MPFL Plains Division playoff picture is shaping up for the West Texas Lions and El Paso Seminoles to play a wildcard, with the winner getting another shot at the Pride, in Midland, for a chance to go to The Standing Four.
“We’re not going to look past the Plains Division,” Fuller said. “The Lions and the Seminoles have both proven to us, the games we’ve had with them have both been battles. We’re going to focus on the Plains Division, first and foremost.”
The Pride has beaten the Lions twice this season – 35-20 in Midland and 54-40 in El Paso – and they’ve beaten Seminoles 34-25 in Midland.
“I think the Lions have had a great season this year,” Fuller said. “Jesse (Rose) has been working hard. Jesse alone is a very good player, but being the owner of the team and a player, I think Derek (Smith) has made sure they are ready for their games. They’ve got a lot of talent there on their team. They’ve got a really good running back and a solid defense. It’ll be interesting the see what happens in the playoffs, if we play the Lions again, it’ll be three times we’ve seen them and it’s tough to beat the same team three times. Last time we played them, they said they hoped to meet us again in the playoffs.”
In their inaugural season one year ago, the Pride made it all the way to the Rio Grande Football League Championship Game, and finished with a 10-2 record. This year, they are still writing their own history in their first year in the MPFL.
“We’re looking forward to the playoffs and we appreciate all the support our team has had this year from our fans,” Fuller said.
This season, there’s been a lot of buzz around teams in the MPFL Metro Division, but in developmental football, any team can win on any given weekend.
“The North Texas Stampede are always a good team and so are the Texas Bullets – the only other undefeated team in the league,” Fuller said. “Obviously, they are having a great season coming off their national championship year. They’re the team everyone thinks is probably the team to beat coming off their championship.”
Time will tell if the Pride get a crack at the Bullets in the post-season, but overall this 2017 West Texas team looks stronger and deeper than last year’s team that played for a league title.
“Last year, I think everybody thought we just had a passing game because Chris Ware is such a good quarterback, but this year we’ve been able to develop a solid running game as well and our offensive line has continued to get better,” Fuller said.
“We had a solid defense from last year with players like Brandon Taylor and Cedric Thomas, and the Garcia brothers at linebacker. We’ve been able to add a couple of guys at key positions with Rich Garrett at corner and Kinsey Bullitt at safety. I think we’ve been able to get better and it’s about being able to gel together too. Our defensive players have been able to do that and I think it’ll show when the playoffs come around.”