Coming into this season, the defending national champion Oklahoma Thunder made it their goal to become the first ever team to win back-to-back Gridiron Developmental Football League national titles and so far they’re right in stride of their goal and still undefeated, heading into the second half of their schedule.
“Each week, we need to get better at the little things,” Thunder defensive coordinator Morgan Clements told Developmental Football USA. “We can never get complacent, every aspect of the game is important and the key is to keep raising our standards.”
Previous Thunder teams – which have won five league titles in eight years and have made deep playoff runs every single season – set the bar pretty high for Oklahoma. Their track record of success has also made them a team that everyone is always gunning for.
“In this league, there are so many good teams and everyone wants to knock off the top dog, so I think we will get everyone’s top game,” Clements said. “We just have to prepare for everyone like it’s the championship game, because for them it is.”
Entering this season, there were a few question marks for Oklahoma, who had to replace a group of players that decided to go out on top by calling it a career following last year’s national championship run.
“It’s always tough to replace such leaders, but we’ve had some young, hungry guys come in and step up and some guys from last year that have stepped up into their new leadership roles, like defensive end Rashawd Rushing,” Clements said.
Defensively, veteran middle linebacker B.J. Hodshire is still doing his thing and leading the defense for the Thunder, but the emergence of other leaders has also been key for a defense that’s allowed nine points per game all season.
“He is not only a vocal leader, but also leads on the field and in the film room,” Clements said of Hodshire. “Devin Dean Sr., a new member to the Thunder this year, has stepped up big and has taken a role as the leader in our secondary.”
The electric wide receiving core has led the charge for the Thunder offense, which is averaging 33.5 points per game this season.
“As always, it’s a team effort, but our spark plug players have been our receiving core,” Clements said. “Prentiss Elliot, Trae Johnson and Brandon Shepard. Shepard has made some big hits on offense and has been a great asset to the team and newcomer Adidassar McDonald has stepped up at running back when asked.”
Oklahoma is on the road on Saturday against the Missouri Cyclones, but the Thunder will return home July 8 to host the Arkansas Nightmare.
“I believe, if we can stay healthy, the only team that can beat us is us,” Clements said. “We have to keep our intensity and drive all year and never let off the gas.”