Regardless of what division they are in, if any Minor Professional Football League team wants to win the league championship, they’re going to need someone to knock off the Texas Bullets, or they’re going to have to do it themselves.
For developmental football teams in Texas, that hasn’t been too easy to come by in recent years.
The Bullets have won 47 of their past 48 regular season games – one resulted in a tie – and recently won the American Football Rules Championship Series – USA Bowl – AAA Spring/Summer National Championship in blowout fashion, 46-0 over an undefeated Ohio Crush team.
“After we shook hands, their coach told me he wanted to let me know they were no patsies,” Bullets owner Jeromy Puckett told Developmental Football USA. “They had been undefeated the last two years, but we had a great game plan. We had about four game films on them.”
The Bullets defense only gave up 172 yards to the Crush in the national championship game, and more than 70 of them came on a single busted play.
“Their coach told me whenever we first scored on our first four possessions that was it,” Puckett said. “We just took the wind out of their sails. The defense was giving them no breathing room whatsoever. Their first four drives were either turnovers or three and outs.”
Every championship win is sweet, but this one was even sweeter for Texas as it served as redemption from 2014.
“We went down there two years ago and lost in 2014 after we won the Texas United Football League Championship,” Puckett said. “We lost to the St. Paul Pioneers, who are just a heavyweight with seven or eight national championships. We had lost our quarterback in the first quarter and ended up losing that one, by I think 12 points.”
Losing wasn’t an option this time around for the Bullets.
“We went down there with a chip on our shoulder,” Puckett said. “We didn’t go down to go on vacation, but we went down there to bring this thing back. We went down with a winner’s mentality.”
Believe it or not, the 2017 Bullets could be even better than last season’s 15-0-1 squad, so don’t expect to see anything different than that winner’s mentality this season from the defending MPFL Champions.
“The MPFL has given us a very tough schedule,” Puckett said. “We play the North Texas Stampede and the Austin Vipers, back to back to back, but we expect to repeat as champions and go back to Florida and win another national championship again next year.
“We’ve added some pieces that we’re excited about. Howard Morrow, James McGew, and Matthew Russell, to name a few. We’ve added new guys and we’re bringing back everybody from last year.”
Championships are the result of many different pieces working well together as one, so there isn’t one particular player or unit to attribute their success to. Let’s start at the top.
At a level where a sizeable chunk of coaches don’t watch film or show up to practice with a scripted plan, Bullets head coach Adam Sharp has proven why it’s extremely wise to do so and why it’s the norm for the higher levels.
“I don’t think he gets enough credit,” Puckett said. “The guy just works his butt off. He probably puts an extra 40 hours a week into practice and game preparation. He put together an amazing game plan for the national championship, from offense to defense to special teams. He had everyone prepared.”
It also helps that he has some extremely talented players on the roster, even some with NFL experience.
“Our quarterback Justin Willis is the all-time leading scorer at SMU, over guys like Erik Dickerson and Doak Walker,” Puckett said. “Then he was at camp with the Green Bay Packers. Our kicker, Zac Atterberry kicked for the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams.”
Willis definitely gets the Bullets’ offense to firing, but Texas also has several key pieces all over the field.
“We’ve got Greg Greene at running back and then we’ve really got a really solid offensive line,” Puckett said. “They were the MVPs of the Minor Professional Football League 2016 Championship Game. Then, we’ve got (former Texas A&M wide receiver) Howard Morrow and Anthony Jackson at wide receiver and Kyle Biddlecombe, Chris Kennedy and Michael Armstead in the slot.”
“Justin is great at looking downfield. He can do it with his feet and do it with his arm. Greg, he’ll fit right up in the hole and run you over if need be. He has great vision and finds the cutback lane pretty well. Biddlecombe is a big possession receiver. He’s a big guy probably 230 pounds with great hands and great speed. Morrow is going to be your deep threat down the seam, then Mike Armstead and Chris Kennedy are going to be the guys over the middle running the slant. They are smaller, shiftier guys that can turn a five-yard catch into 90 yards pretty quickly. Anthony Jackson is another guy that plays the outside and can run near-perfection in his routes.”
The Bullets defense starts in the middle with middle linebacker and captain Josh Mosley, with outside linebackers Martez Hawkins and B.J. Flowers solidifying the two outsides linebacker spots.
“Both Hawkins and Flowers drive two hours every Sunday for practice,” Puckett said. “They came over last season from the West Texas Scorpions and they are both huge players on our defense.”
Behind them is an extremely talented secondary.
“On the corners we have Will Fields and Kedrion Betts, our two shutdown corners,” Puckett said. “Over the middle, we’ve got Aundre Dean playing safety.”
A good number of plays opposing offenses try to execute never make it this far, however, due to the mammoth defensive line controlling the trenches.
“Up front, Cody Price plays defensive tackle,” Puckett said. “He’s 6-foot-3, and about 280 pounds, just strong as an ox and on the end we’ve got James McGew. He played on the Dallas Trojans last year and came over and joined us this year.”
The Bullets have played for a conference title three years in a row – the Texas United Football League Championship in 2014 and 2015 and the Minor Professional Football League Championship in 2016 – and they have won two of them (’14 & ’16). In 2017, they’re looking to make that two in a row and three of the last four.
“The MPFL is definitely the more competitive league and that’s why we made the jump over to the MPFL,” Puckett said. “It’s definitely got some great teams like the Stampede and the Austin Vipers, the Denton Rhinos, just some very good solid teams that have been around for a long time.”