The Vegas Trojans have been a force for years in the West Region of developmental football, with a 227-22 all-time record. Right now they’re riding an 18-game winning streak into Saturday’s match-up against the Arizona State Champions – the Arizona Running Rebels.
While it should be a hard-hitting match-up that could go either way, a team that has won as much as the Trojans have never expect to do anything but win.
“We played them in 2006 or 2007 for the Far West Football Championship and beat them 7-6,” Trojans owner and head coach Bobby Lide told Developmental Football USA. “Both teams are different now. I think I’ve got two guys from that team and they have maybe one of two from their team back then.
“They have a bunch of athletes, but they don’t seem like they have a lot of size, just a lot of athletes, but they’ve been winning with it. I think it will be a good competitive game, but I just think we have too much for them.”
On the Rebels roster, you’ll find a few former Arizona State players and a former Utah State player – which is a big reason they are 13-1 and both league and state champions. However, on the Trojans roster, the list of former Division I talent is a bit longer.
“On my defense, I have eight big-time Division I guys,” Lide said. I’ve got guys from USC, N.C. State, Arkansas.”
Trojans defensive tackle Zian Jones played at Syracuse, cornerback Vincent Joseph played at USC, cornerback Charles Ealy played at UNLV, linebacker Robert Caldwell played at N.C. State, offensive lineman Jason Peacock played for Arkansas, punter Jonathan Johnson played for Arizona State, defensive back Jordan Wilmore played for UNLV, and the list goes on.
Leading the offense for Vegas is former Norfolk State quarterback Brandon Brooks.
“He went to Long Beach Poly, which was one of the powerhouses back in the day,” Lide said. “Then, he was on one of the top teams at this level, the Inglewood Blackhawks, when they won six champions in a row and two nationals. Then, he ended up coming with us. He’s one of those quarterbacks that reads the whole field and steps up big time. He’s the quarterback everybody wants right now on the West Coast.”
Two of Brooks’ top targets are wide receivers Darrius Bracher and Gerryl Bennett, who also have college football experience.
“Both of their stats are pretty close to each other,” Lide said. “In our last game, they each had two touchdowns and they were close in touchdowns and yardage for the season.”
The Trojans, who play in multiple leagues year round, also added former Idaho running back Brian Flowers from the Blackhawks.
“He’s been a staple at this level,” Lide said. “You talk about running backs and everybody brings his name up.”
In a deep defense like the Trojans, several players stand out, but middle linebacker Devon Jones has especially earned a reputation for his tenacity on the field.
“He’s from New Orleans,” Lide said. “His work ethic off the field and on the field – he works out tirelessly. He’s a leader on the field. He’s just one of those linebacker. He’s been in the Rams camp, he’s been in the Chargers camp, he’s one of those guys that you don’t know why he’s still at this level. He’s that much above everybody else.”
Originally from California, Lide also spent some time playing football at this level in tradition-rich West Texas. When he moved to Vegas, he brought that winning mentality with him.
“With how big football is in the south, I tried to bring that mentality here,” Lide said. “I’ve been winning since I had a team. I think we’ve got eight championships and one national championship and we’ve had a lot of success these last two seasons.
“I go out and get the best players that want to come play. We’ve got players from California, players from Nevada, Georgia, Florida, Texas – it snowballed into the next person wanting to come. In the fall season, we had 19 guys go play indoor ball, then next think you know we had five or six more guys coming in for the fall season.”
The winner of Saturday’s game will look to continue playing the top teams on the West Coast to crown a champion in the next few months.
“The Fury is supposed to play the Kings out of Seattle,” Lide said. “Then, the winner of that will play us for the West Coast National Championship. We’re hoping that they can get through with that game and we can play our national game before our fall season, which starts September 2.
Talent alone can only get you so far, and while the Trojans have plenty of that, they also have team chemistry working in their favor.
“Our team is real family oriented,” Lide said. “Our motto is F.O.E. – Family Over Everything. We preach it on and off the field. We try to make the players include their girlfriends, wives and kids in all we do, from feeding the homeless to the games.”