After an interesting end to what was an otherwise good 2017 season for the Paris Stars, they have opted to join the Crossroads Amateur Football League, moving forward.
Teams from practically every corner of Texas have joined the CRAFL this summer, presumably lured in by the $10,000 prize that will be awarded to the 2018 champion. Like the Stars, the majority of teams are coming over from the Texas United Football League.
“We went through a situation with the league, where they didn’t allow us to even play our playoff game,” Stars owner Trey Jenkins told Developmental Football USA. “They pulled us, they made us forfeit. We mentioned to them on the Tuesday before the game that our home field was condemned by the school board because of a hole in the field, which made it unsafe. We found a field in Greenville that we were allowed to use for the game, but our commissioner said that was too far.”
In the regular season, the Stars won their division with an 8-2 record – their only losses coming from out-of-state teams, the Arkansas Silverbacks and the Northern Louisiana Lightning. With many of their area opponents coming over with them to the CRAFL, they’re looking to reach new heights in 2018.
“I know we can have a better record, just because we have the skill and talent,” Jenkins said. “With the record that we had, we have some skill people that saw that and now they’re wanting an opportunity. They saw that and they want to add to it.”
The Stars have been out in the community this summer, doing fundraisers and recruiting for the future.
“We’re trying to build it better for the players in the community,” Jenkins said. “We’re trying to make everything better as an organization and for the betterment of all of our players. Our motto is keeping dreams alive and that’s what we stand by and try to bring to the community – the opportunity for second chances.”
In today’s world, where social media has become such a part of everyday life for nearly everyone, special teams coach James Overstreet has decided to strengthen the Stars’ efforts online.
“This is actually his first year,” Jenkins said. “He started last season, later in the year. We embraced him and brought him in. He started showing initiative, going out and helping build the program and spreading the word.”
At the developmental level, players come and go every year, but the Stars expect much of their core to return for 2018. In 2017, quarterback Dakota Smith and running back Jacob Kemp led the charge offensively for Paris.
“Jacob is more of a slimmer running back that’s very fast,” Jenkins said. “He has the eyes and the agility to see something before it comes to him. If a defender comes to him, he can start and stop and continue at the same speed. He can slide between defenders and make them miss. It’s hard to take him down.”
Last season, Kemp rushed for more than 200 yards in one game and went on to be named MVP of the game.
A local product, Smith, helped ignite the Stars offensive attack with his knowledge of thegame.
“He was actually a starting quarterback at Paris High School,” Jenkins said. “He was familiar with the system and the style. He just had to learn how this level was ran and the structure of it.”
Two-way player T.J. Tinnell, a product of Clarksville High School was big for the Stars on both offense and defense in 2017.
“He plays free safety and we ended up moving him to wide receiver too,” Jenkins said. “He’s dynamic on both sides of the ball with his speed. He’s explosive. He’s very respectful to the coaches and always does what needs to be done. He’s going to become even more of an asset. He’s very football savvy and very athletic.”
Another impact player on defense for Paris is middle linebacker D.J. Wilson.
“He’s the type of person that puts in work all off-season,” Jenkins said. “He takes initiative before you ask anything of it. Anything that needs to be adjusted on the field, he’s the type of player that will step out and do that, help everyone know where they need to go and line up.”