(Photo Cred: Chris Schreiber, Sports Talk Wannabes)
“We want to make it to where football is nonstop,” Marauders indoor owner Chris Mathews told Developmental Football USA. “Whether it’s spring, summer, fall, or winter, we want people to know the Marauders will be there. We want to be known nationwide and win championships in several leagues. We want to do a 7-on-7 league, win championships there, we want to build a Pop Warner team and win championships there.
“We want to start a Marauders flag team and a Marauders youth team in the park district. We want to put a team in the fall league. The sky is the limit with what we want to do and indoor helped a lot with that, giving us our first championship under the Marauders name and in this outdoor league now, we’re picked to win the championship.”
Earlier in the outdoor season, the Marauders beat the defending champion Fox Valley Eagles 44-28, then they routed rival Illinois Cowboys 28-3 – their first outdoor victory over the Cowboys in four years. Now, they’re sitting at first place in the South Conference
“The Illinois Cowboys, from indoor, I don’t want to call it a rivalry, but for the last few years they’ve been beating us in outdoor,” Mathews said. “In indoor we destroyed them and I’m looking forward to that carrying over to outdoor.”
The outdoor Marauders are owned by Mathews’ older brother, Tremayne Cheers, who also served as the defensive coordinator for the indoor door.
“I’ve been under his wing for about five years, learning how the game goes, meeting people and building different relationships,” Mathews said.
The indoor team was originally a farm system for the outdoor team, but Mathews quickly built some momentum with it and attracted some of Chicago’s best football players.
“Guys liked what I was doing and believed in our vision,” Mathews said. “We had some legit dudes that could have went and played for money, but decided to turn it down and play for me because they liked what we’re about.
“Some of our recruits tell us they want to play for us because some of the stuff they see us doing. Most football owners are older, when you think of an owner of a football team. When I’m at work, I wear my logo on my hard hat at work. At first, people see that and laugh and say, ‘You don’t own an indoor football team.’ When the recruits see us, they say they chose this team because they can relate to us. We’re trying to build and make it more than football. It’s about giving back to these communities and giving back to the kids, but we want to be known for much more than that.”
Earlier in the MPIF season, the Marauders hosted a charity game to feed the homeless and plan on doing the same again during the outdoor season.
During the indoor season, players came from several outdoor teams in the area to create this indoor super team which won the MPIF Championship last month.
“I promised their outdoor coaches that it would just be for indoor,” Mathews said. “They thought it was a recruiting tool to steal players. When it goes to outdoor we go back to playing against each other. I signed no new people from our indoor team to our outdoor team, we actually lost one player to another team.”
Of the 30 players on the indoor championship roster, only 12 of them play for the Marauders in outdoor.
“I feel like the one thing it did do, it kept those guys in football shape in the off-season,” Mathews said. “Some guys don’t really work out in the off-season, and I’m one of them.
“We have some new young guys that are rookies, Julian Morris came to play for us straight out of high school. He has all of the attributes, he was just lacking experience. From the first practice to the end, you could see how much more knowledgeable he got. Now he’s a starter on our outdoor team. During indoor, he made the team, but he didn’t play a lot. As time went on, he built more confidence, now he’s one of our starters and a key contributor for outdoor.”
Several players from the indoor team attracted higher level indoor opportunities and one had a tryout with the Canadian Football League, Mathews said.
“Indoor made people get a little bit more noticed,” Mathews aid. “Like my starting middle linebacker Carl Young. He was known around Chicago as a pretty good player before, but now when people do their rankings, a lot of guys put him as the No. 1 middle linebacker in all of Chicago. A lot of people knew he was good, but nobody was saying he was that good.
“He’s one of the best football players I’ve ever seen. Before this, I just knew who he was. He plays for Chicago Chaos in outdoor.”