Every league has its known contenders and in the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League the most often stated teams heading into the 2018 season are the Mississippi Dynasty and Prattville Patriots. However, as the Dynasty showed the league in 2017, a lesser-hyped team can always emerge and take the cake.
While championships typically don’t come to first-year teams in this league, one team that shouldn’t be overlooked is the Alabama Tigers.
“Right now we’ve got about 43 guys on the roster,” Tigers owner Marie Prescott told Developmental Football USA. “I think we’re going to have a really good program and people need to watch out. Some people say, ‘Oh, woman on staff. Can’t be much to them.’
“We won our first pre-season game and we’re still developing and we’ve got about a month before we start playing. People need to look out for the Alabama Tigers. We have a lot of talent and a lot of heart.”
This will be the first year for the Tigers, which were formed from the remnants of the Alabama Spartans, the Dothan Rottweilers and the Florida Saints.
“Some of the guys were looking for a new home and we just took them all in and we are in the process of building, hopefully a powerhouse,” Prescott said.
Just hearing Prescott talk about her team for a few minutes and you’ll quickly catch a drift of the positive atmosphere surrounding this organization – a vital factor that is invaluable at this level, and something that has attracted players from more than 100 miles away.
“We started off kind of small and I’m really proud of my players, because we’ve had some players come from other teams and just kind of watch us practice,” Prescott said. “After watching us play against the Scorpions last week, we’ve had five players come since then – two from other teams that they had been practicing with, but hadn’t signed with, and three from other leagues. That says a lot for someone to leave a team they are comfortable with.”
A few players are even driving more than 2 ½ hours from Birmingham to Elba to be part of what looks to be a solid team in the making.
“They really like the family unity of the team and they like how we do playing time,” Prescott said. “I’m strict with playing time. If you don’t come to practice, you don’t play. That’s my theory and it encourages everybody to come to practice. It says a lot about our team that these players are willing to travel and I’m proud of my guys because they make these other guys feel welcomed to come join our team.”
Coached by head coach Tarrance Boyd, who also calls the defense, offensive coordinator Dee Brundage and running backs coach Jerick Cooper, the Tigers have the athletes at their disposal to compete with anyone.
“Looking at my offense, we have Chris Griffin, who is just an athlete,” Prescott said. “Football kind of runs in his blood. Cornelius Griffin is his cousin and he is outstanding. He was one of my leaders with the Spartans and he’s just a stand-up guy. All the guys look up to him because he is one of our veterans. He is probably about 5-foot-5 and weighs about 170 pounds, but he’s one of our powerhouses.
“We have so many. Another one that really stands out to me is Curtis Crittenden. He’s another athlete and has the same qualities as Chris Griffin. He’s very driven and he’s a team leader.”
Defensively, the Tigers are expecting a big season from lineman Mike Terry.
“He can actually play both sides of the ball and I can’t really say he’s a defensive tackle or a defensive end, because he’s all over the place,” Prescott said. “He’s just fantastic, anything you need him to get done, he will get it done, very good personality. He’s one of our defensive leaders, he’s one to look up to, he’s like a defensive cheerleader, always pepping the guys up and gets them going.”
Joining Terry on the line is another big time player in defensive tackle Robert Freeman.
“Robert is outstanding,” Prescott said. “Anything you need him to do, he’ll do. He gets in there, he’s coachable. He makes sure all the guys are doing what they are supposed to do as far as keeping their end wrapped up on defense. When somebody misses a tackle or something, he’s like the shoulder to lean on or the pep talker and lets them know it’s okay. He’s kind of like a big brother.”
Although most teams feel good about themselves during pre-season, before the gauntlet sets in, the No. 15 ranked Tigers know they’ll have to earn their way to the President’s Cup if that truly is in their future.
“Us, of course,” Prescott named the Tigers a contender. “I’m thinking the Mississippi Dynasty, they were the ones that took it last year, and to be honest, maybe the Prattville Patriots, maybe. They have a lot of talent, but as far as I know, most of the other teams have a lot of new players and a lot of new guys, they’re just getting everything developed, so the ones I would be most concerned about is the Dynasty and maybe the Patriots.”
The level of competition in the APDFL was one of the main draws for the Tigers, when deciding which league to register for.
“Also the level of class,” Prescott said. “They have set rules and guidelines the guys have to go by, which the owners of the teams go by. We have a group of guys that are pretty outstanding, that help with the communities and it helps develop their character as well as their athleticism. Also, I know a lot of the scouts look at the more physical and more competitive leagues for players.”
Hence the word ‘developmental,’ the majority of teams at this level exist to provide an avenue for players to pursue their dreams and move up in their football careers.
“The goals are, of course, to win, but the ultimate goal is to get some of our guys to the next level,” Prescott said. “We’d like to get all of them, but we know that’s not going to happen, but to develop their football talents and possibly get them in an NFL camp or earn a football scholarship, get a shot at arena ball, or with the Canadian Football League.”