After sitting out the 2016 season, the West Texas Scorpions will be back on the field in 2017, and they look to pick up right where they left off in adding more hardware to their well-decorated, albeit young history.
“Last year, the team was on hiatus,” Semi-Pro Hall of Fame linebacker Trae Ivory told Developmental Football USA. “We had some people want to retire, they felt like they wanted to retire, then they changed their mind. By the time all of that took place, everybody was everywhere.”
Thinking the Scorpions weren’t going to have a season in 2016, many players suited up for different teams, including Ivory, who traveled to Carlsbad, New Mexico, to play with the New Mexico Rush. With many key players having already made commitments to other teams, the Scorpions did end up sitting 2016 out.
“It didn’t work out for a lot of people who left and went elsewhere,” Ivory said. “Now we’re back together and the understanding is there that this is where it’s at. Now that everybody has tested the waters and seen it isn’t always greener on the other side.”
The Scorpions aren’t just back together for the fun of things, according to Ivory, the Scorpions could be really, really good.
“I haven’t seen a team this confident in a long time,” Ivory said. “We’re looking to win and that’s what we do.”
Right now, the Scorpions are more than 55-men strong and could possibly add a few more guys before the Rio Grande Football League registration deadline.
“We added depth and picked up some pieces we needed,” Ivory said. “We look pretty good, we’re in the growing stages, kind of a rebuild, but not really.
“We picked up some depth in so many places that we needed that it’s not really necessary to play people both ways. We’ve got some depth and some quality backups, some new guys and some rookies we’re bringing along.”
At this level of football, having a strong culture can take a team further than just having talent, but both qualities are something the Scorpions can offer.
“We just want to pass on our locker room mentality,” Ivory said. “At the end of the day, the standard has to be set, regardless of how you feel. If you want to be a Scorpion, you’ve got to meet this standard.”
Several key pieces are coming back offensively for the Scorpions, including 2014 National Championship MVP, quarterback Jonathan DeMasters.
“I’ve seen a lot of players play and he’s the best that I’ve seen that are going to go out there and give you everything,” Ivory said. “He reminds me of a Brett Favre type of cat.”
Joining DeMasters in the backfield is running back Jentry Roberts, who looks to cause some problems for opposing defenses.
“He’s probably the most productive back I’ve seen in a long time behind myself and Chad Johnson, who was with the (West Texas) Drillers for a long time,” Ivory said. “He runs downhill, he’s looking to do some real big things this year.”
The Scorpions offensive weapons don’t end there, as 2014 Crossroads Amateur Football League Offensive MVP, receiver Cameron McDonald and receiver Josh Conner are also back in the fold.
“McDonald is a speedster and a state champion out of Stamford (Texas),” Ivory said. “Those are the ones I know that have played with us before. Josh Conner, he returns punts, he can take it off the top, he’s got good hands, I haven’t really seen him get held yet.
“You can look for (Conner) to score a whole lot of touchdowns. You can see him make every road trip, he’s committed and this year is the most focused and committed I’ve seen him in a long time. I’m working to get him an opportunity at the next level. He might end up not finishing with us because he’s already got an arena background.”
Defensively, the Scorpions have several playmakers, who will look to pitch multiple shutouts in 2017.
“We got J.D. Rodriguez, who’s a defensive tackle or nose guard, a 2-tech, 3-tech type of guy,” Ivory said. “He’s quick and he’s been around the game quite a while. He just got inducted into the Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.
Seasoned veteran Tremaine Carr, who was an All-Star for several seasons as a defensive back will slide down to defensive end to strengthen what could be a dominant defensive line.
“We got big Robert Henry, a young cat out of Abilene Cooper and his brother, who plays some linebacker for us,” Ivory said. “He’s a force, he’s a 6-3, 300-pound guy.”
Joining Ivory at linebacker is Demario Walker, another big and extremely physical defender that plays with a lot of energy as well as a newcomer that could make some noise.
“We have a rookie by the name of Ramon Deroen,” Ivory said. “He’s going to be the new lieutenant of the defense in the middle, he’s about 250 or 260 pounds”
The position group on the roster with the most questions marks is defensive back, as several newcomers look to battle it out for starting positions and leadership roles.
“Our whole secondary is going to be new, so I really can’t say what we really have on the back end,” Ivory said. “I’ve seen some things, but we’re still trying to solidify what we are.”
Look for the Scorpions to line up in a lot of different looks defensively this season.
“We flex our defense, we play out of 4-3 and 3-4, we play out of Eagle out of Bear, we run four linebacker sets, three linebacker sets, four linebacker sets,” Ivory said. “I play wherever, it depends who we’re playing and what we need to do. We’re not trying to force somebody to do something they don’t have the skillset they need to do. Our defense is a toolbox, if we need a hammer we’re going to use a hammer, if we need a screwdriver, we’re going to use a screwdriver.”
The Scorpions are coached by David Samaniego, who has led the team deep in the post-season several times.
“If they tell you a team reflects the person of its leaders, our team is a reflection of who leads us,” Ivory said. “Our leaders are pretty boisterous and David Samaniego is one of those leaders. There’s no shyness in telling it what it is in leading his team and prove a point. You recruit the type of people that will gravitate toward what you want and that’s what you have. I’ve never seen it like we have it here. He’s a fiery guy and he knows how to get up under their skin.”
The Scorpions draw players from several different cities, including Lubbock, San Angelo, Abilene, Waco and others. The team plays in Novice, Texas, which serves as somewhat of a central point for them to make this possible.
“It gives us an advantage,” Ivory said. “Since I’ve been with the Scorpions, it’s been like that. Players commute to do whatever they have to do to do something that’s more comfortable to them. At the end of the day, if you want to be in a situation that’s comfortable you’ll do whatever you have to do to be in it.”
Next weekend, the Scorpions host the West Texas Outlaws in a pre-season game.