The Ohio Broncos started their season off right with a 14-0 shutout of the Cleveland Patriots, as the Ohio Football League kicked off its 2017 schedule on Saturday.
“I think it’ll take a few more weeks to really gel together,” Broncos co-owner Jimmy Melton told Developmental Football USA.
Based out of Akron, the Broncos – who have twice as many wins as losses, all time – have their sights set on what would be the deepest run in the history of their program.
“This year, we went all in,” Melton said. “Our goal is to win a championship. We’ve tasted success these last two years, but we’ve built a team this year that is championship material. The way we played Saturday, if we can build off of that, I don’t see anyone stopping us from making it to the championship game.”
The Broncos won their division in 2015 and made it to the conference championship one year ago, but they will need to get through other top teams to bring home some hardware in the OFL.
“The Strabane Spartans out of Pennsylvania,” Melton said. “We’ve battled with them four times over the last two years. We played them three times last year, they are the ones that knocked us off in the conference championship. They’re always a threat, they’re a great team. We’ve battled, but we’re currently 1-3 against them.”
Should the Broncos make their way to the championship game, they’ll have their work cut out for them.
“We’ve got a whole cluster of teams in the other side of the bracket, we won’t face them unless we make the championship,” Melton said. “The Ohio Crush is the defending league champions and with the way they’ve been playing this year and the numbers they’ve put up, they’re a threat to repeat.”
Offensively, the Broncos are led by their quarterback Marquelo Suel, a former wide receiver for the Akron Zips.
“He converted over to quarterback for us in 2015,” Melton said. “He’s an athlete, he runs the ball, passes it, he does it all. Our running back, Bud Brown, he’s been the league leading rusher three years in a row.”
Defensively, expect another solid team effort this year from a unit that allowed more than 13 points only one time in 2016.
“It’s hard to pick two or three guys,” Melton said. “We’ve been one of the best in the league for the last couple of years. Lloyd Ellis had 13 interceptions last year, he was the key of our defensive backs.
“DaShawn Stafford, he’s been a team captain for the last couple of years, he plays middle linebacker, outside linebacker and defensive end sometimes. We know he keeps everybody level-headed, very vocal, he’s been one of our leading tacklers, he hits hard.”
Stafford won a National Championship in college as a former Mount Union Purple Raider, now he looks to help the Broncos win their first-ever OFL Championship, in what appears to be Melton’s final season with the team.
“As of right now, I’m going to retire at the end of the year, but I’m setting up my partner to take over and continue to build every year,” Melton said. “We deal with a lot of local guys. Around developmental football, you’ve got former NFL and Division I players, but we shop in our backyard. We have a lot of local guys. Our goal is to continue to build and develop local talent. We want to become one of those teams that have been around every year for 20 years and still has guys coming back every year.”
Like most developmental teams, the Ohio Broncos consistently look for ways to give back to the community.
“We have a peewee team we work with every year, the South Rangers,” Melton said. “They’ve been big supporters of us and we’ve been big supporters of them. We’ve donated money to them the last couple of years. They come to our games and work some of our games even. We like to take them under our wing and teach them about life, that’s what we’re all about.”