One year ago, the Texas Red Raiders had a Texas United Football Association title in their sights but came up just short as the Texas Xtreme defense had a historic goal line stand to finish out an undefeated season with a 22-14 win.
“Last year was a bit of a letdown,” Red Raiders owner Courtney Miller told Developmental Football USA. “We came up short on fourth and goal and didn’t score a touchdown and lost the game.”
While a game like that is hard to forget, an experienced team like the Red Raiders knows they must move on and get the next one, and that’s exactly what they plan to do.
“We’re looking to move forward, past a league championship this year,” Miller said. “The sky is the limit. We’re looking for rings and we’re going to pride ourselves on winning and showing everyone, not just in Texas, but on a national level that we’re not just a competitive team. We’re a top-notch team.
“On a national level i think we can rock and roll with pretty much any team when we got our full team and got our head on straight.”
There’s a lot of football to be played – a whole season and postseason – before the Red Raiders start focusing on a national game, but so far they’ve been perfect through pre-season with wins over the Texas Dark Knights, Golden Triangle Seminoles and, most recently, the Central Texas Apaches.
“It was a good team win from the coaching staff, all the way down to the bus driver,” Miller said. “We did what we needed to do to step out and get a positive vibe going into the regular season.”
The Red Raiders and the Seminoles are believed by Developmental Football USA to be the top two teams in the TUFA, heading into the season. However, there are plenty of other teams that pose a threat to those two, aside from just each other.
“We take peoples’ opinions and use it as motivation and that’s how we move forward with games, practices and rankings. My opinion is to look at everybody as equal, so we don’t look past anybody.
“The Texas Colts are a rival with us. We’ve been butting heads about as long as both teams have existed, about 15 years. The Seminoles are a good, young team. We had a nailbiter with them last year. The Madisonville Broncos, I’ve heard some good things about them, too. Whoever we play, we just want to step up to the plate and play football.”
The Red Raiders high-powered offensive is led by veteran quarterback Derrick Williams.
“He’s been around about as long as our organization has been around,” Miller said. “With his leadership and throwing arm, I think we can push past some of the good teams in the TUFA and even on a national level.”
Williams, who is joined in the backfield by running back Brent McCoy, has the luxury of throwing to a deep and talented group of receivers.
“We’ve got the best receiving core,” Miller said. “I don’t mean three or four, I mean about 10 guys. Our back-ups could be started on most teams in Texas. Andrew Turner, Jamal Johnson, Mike Williams Sr. and a wildcard receiver I’m going to throw out there is Derrick Hernandez. He’s probably one of the smallest guys on the team, but his heart is so big. He’s about 5-foot-8 and everybody else is about 6-foot-3.”
Every good offense starts up front in the trenches, where the B&K Connection hold it down for the Red Raiders.
“We’ve got a couple of offensive linemen that show good leadership in Ben Montes and Kendrick Brown,” Miller said.
Defensively, Miller is expecting a better season out of this year’s group and there are plenty of reasons why.
“I think we’re going to grow from last year,” Miller said. “Last year we had some glitches. We’ve got a couple of additions. We moved one of our athletes to the defensive side of the ball, Byron Terrell, who plays the weak-side linebacker / rover spot, Ray Ray Bernard is our veteran corner and Collin Smith is our free safety and captain on the team.”
Up front Miller has a group of defensive linemen that can be interchanged anywhere along the line.
“We we step it up on our defensive line, we’re going to have a lot of good combinations with multiple defenses and schemes we can do,” Miller said. “Jay Bibbs is going to be a good fix for us and Ashton Swayzer at the defensive tackle spot. One of our veterans at defensive end is Kevin Steber and Cory Dixon at end.”
Like many teams, the Red Raiders organization goes well beyond football. In fact, they were founded as a Christian, community service based organization.
“We strive to keep the inner city kids off the streets and to help them in football and in life,” Miller said.
On the field, they aren’t quite as friendly and this year they’re looking to prove they’re as good as anyone around.
“The other top teams in the region – I would say the Texas Colts for sure, the Houston Ducks, for sure, that won the DTFA last year. Statewide, I’ll say the Texas Xtreme, the Austin Vipers, the Victoria Hurricanes and the DeSoto Tarantulas. They’re a good team as well.”