After an impressive showing during their pre-season slate, the Oklahoma City Elite is ready to kick off Central Football League action this Saturday, where they could have their hands full in a road game against the Joplin Crusaders.
“They’ve got quite a bit of tradition,” Elite owner Mike White told DFUSA. “We’re pretty excited to play them.”
If you count pre-season games, the Elite are currently 3-0 and have some serious momentum built up heading into league play.
The Elite opened up pre-season play with a 44-14 win over the Oklahoma City Southside Bulls and followed that with a 36-14 win against the Oklahoma Territory Desperados, before finishing with a 9-0 victory against the Oklahoma Nightmare.
“Given what our pre-season has shown us, we’ve pretty much dominated every team we’ve played in the pre-season,” White said. “Our defense has allowed zero points in the second half against any team. The second half, our defense has blown teams out of the water.”
“We look forward to competing this year. I feel we’ll go undefeated.”
Credit the success of the Oklahoma City defense to their conditioning program. The Elite emphasize running extra so they will have more endurance and stamina to outlast opponents on game day.
“Our team runs a lot and we make sure our players are well conditioned,” White said. “In the fourth quarter, our defense is still fresh and most teams struggle with offensive linemen, so we really capitalize on that. We’ll send more blitzing and just beat teams down in the second half to the point to where they just start to give up.”
In 2015, their first year of operations, the Elite finished 1-6, but 2016 is already a new story that looks to have a completely different outcome.
“Our record doesn’t really tell what happened,” White said. “Our team should have won multiple games. All the games we lost were really close. We had a really bad quarterback situation last year. Every game we lost was because somebody got a pick-six on us. It was pretty heartbreaking, because literally every single game somebody had a pick-six.”
This season, the Elite had more than 90 players try out for their team, but league rules limit them to keep only 55 players on the regular season roster.
“We have four key categories we evaluate all players on: practice attendance, attitude, skill or performance, and financially,” White said.
Several of the players who made the cut have impressed White and look to be instrumental to the Elite’s success this season. Look no further than quarterback James Paul Lewis II
“He’s really fast, he’s got a lot of speed,” White said. “He’s got accuracy as a quarterback. One of the best things about him, he controls the offense, he listens to the coaching. He’s just one of those players you want to have on your team. He’s really hard to tackle if you get him scrambling.”
Joining Lewis in the backfield is the one-two punch of running backs Chris Scott and Anthony Thomas.
“All of our offensive players could all be playing in college right now,” White said. “Chris Scott is kind of our power back. He’s probably 6-3, 240 pounds. He’s a beast of a running back.
“Anthony Thomas came to us from Maryland. He’s really fast and hard to tackle. Really good vision to find the open holes and goes north and south.”
Oklahoma City’s receiving corps is stacked with Tony McDaid, McKenzie Brown, Kharis Toombs and Reuben Bowen leading the way.
“It would be hard to pick out a wide receiver that I could really call a leader because all of our wide receivers are leaders,” White said. “Our quarterback is going to share the wealth with them.”
The Elite have so much firepower offensively that one running back elected to move to defense and he’s already emerging as a leader on that side of the ball.
“Quincy Baker plays our hybrid position,” White said. “He started as a running back. He’s such a good player and all-around athlete. He took the responsibility to come help out the defense. When his side is the weak side, he’s kind of a safety. When his side is the strong side, he lines up as a linebacker.
“Joshua Moore is going to be playing that other hybrid spot on the team. He’s all around good player and good leader.
Last season’s sack leader, defensive end Josh Hugine returns to lead the defensive line.
“We brought in some players that we think are going to create a good splash on the defense,” White said. “Our defense is going to be key to our success this year, because I’ve never seen an offense as good as what we have.”