When a group of football fanatics in Sioux City decided to put a developmental football team together four years ago, everyone in the region quickly learned they weren’t messing around.
With their thoroughness, professionalism and attention to detail, the owners of the Sioux City Stampede were destined to build a top-notch program, but even they didn’t expect for it to take off as fast as it did.
“Getting that first year together and seeing it explode like it did was great,” Stampede co-owner Chad Hueschen told Developmental Football USA. “We just wanted to get a team together to last through the season and be above .500, but at our second tryout we had over 150 guys come out.
“The quality of guys we knew were around the town, so it was about getting them together on one team and getting the community behind us. Our first home game exceeded 700 people in the stands. When we filled the stands and we had to find a different field to play at because the field we were at couldn’t hold enough people, that was exciting.”
In just their first season in 2014, the Stampede started out 0-3, but quickly rebounded and made it all the way to the Midwest Football Alliance Championship Game, before falling short of the title at the hands of the Des Moines Blaze.
“Even though we lost that game, getting there our first season was pretty cool,” Stampede co-owner Chad Hueschen told Developmental Football USA.
They followed up their first year with an 8-3 record and a semifinal appearance in 2015, then last year they returned to the MFA Championship, but came up short 28-20 to the Kansas City Bulldogs.
This year, they’re looking to get over the hump and get their hands on some hardware, but in the small, yet densely talented MFA, that’s never an easy task.
“Definitely last year’s champion, the Kansas City Bulldogs, they beat us last year in the championship game, but we beat them in the regular season and went undefeated,” Hueschen said. “We played them again in the championship game and they got us by a touchdown.
“The rest of the teams we’re playing are no one we’re looking past either. The Kansas City Bulldogs is a contender, the Des Moines Blaze is a contender. The Omaha Stockmen has been a quality team and they just went down and played the Southwest Missouri Pitbulls, which is a very good team and they fell just short against those guys. The Midwest Titans are back in our league and they’ve been champions before, they’ve got a good team.”
To kick off 2017, the Stampede routed the North Iowa Bulldogs 43-9 in a pre-season game, then opened up their MFA slate with an 81-0 shutout of the Chillicothe Swarm 81-0. If they can keep playing at this level, Sioux City should quickly have their goals in sight.
“We’re 2-0 and expecting to make another run at a championship,” Hueschen said. “We have a long stretch due to the Minnesota Brawlers forfeiting this game Saturday.”
In addition to a tough league schedule ahead of them, the Stampede also has a non-league game against the Fargo Invaders, which are currently 2-0 in the Northern Elite Football League.
“I’m glad we’re part of the Midwest Football Alliance,” Hueschen said. “The MFA has a long history of integrity and good quality teams. The teams that are in our league, we know are going to show up on our schedule. In our league schedule, you don’t have to worry about anyone not showing up.”
Offensively, look for the Stampede’s strong backfield to get them started behind an offensive line anchored by Bryce Drager. Then, watch them open up their playbook and spread the ball around to a deep group of receivers.
“We’re lucky to have a one-two punch in the backfield with Larry Taylor and TJ James from Des Moines is another good running back,” Hueschen said. “Either one of those backs can be a 100-yard game anytime they step on the field, so splitting carries between those guys is pretty tough.
Behind center is quarterback Scott Manley leading the charge for Sioux City.
“He’s been with us since Day 1,” Hueschen said. “He’s really kind of stepped into his own the last couple of years. We had a quarterback named Jose Lorellano and he sat behind him for a couple of years. When his time came up, he stepped up, took the ball and has played very well. He’s been a definite leader on this team. “
Defensively, look for a solid group of linebackers to hold things down for the Stampede.
“Marcel Moody, he’s actually moved away, but he’s talking about moving back,” Hueschen said. “He’s kind of been our defensive go-to-guy at linebacker, kind of the captain of the defense, along with Tyler Phelan. I played with Phelan all of my 10 years, he’s really a smart linebacker. Phelan is a really smart guy, he’s a general on the field.”
Veteran Mike Trobaugh has been a mainstay at the safety position, earning all-league recognition, as well as defensive end Derek Geddings, who the Stampede hope to have back on the field for them soon.
“He got hurt last year, so he’s still recovering from last year,” Hueschen said. “Hopefully, we see him back towards the second part of our season. He was actually our league MVP last year as a defensive player. He’s been an MFA All-Star ever since he’s been in the league.
“We’ve got another couple of linebackers that are talented. We’ve got a newer defensive line this year. “We’ve missed some starters from last year, so that’s probably the newest part of our defense. In the secondary and the joker spot, that we call it, is pretty new, but still no drop off in production.”
The Stampede is owned by Heuschen, along with the Weltz family – Mike Sr., Mike Jr. and Jo Dee – and is coached by head coach Jason Garnand, offensive coordinator David Ebner, defensive coordinator Jason Walding and assistant coaches Chad Moseman and Eric Hueschen.
“Jason Garnand, our head coach, a lot of this wouldn’t be possible without him and our staff,” Hueschen said. “He’s basically like a fifth owner. He does a lot for the team and has as much passion for this team as anybody else. He’s put together a great squad and he does a lot for the players.”