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Opelika Chiefs looking for redemptive win against Prattville Patriots and return trip to APDFL Championship

06/15/2017, 4:00pm CDT
By DFUSA National Analyst

(Photo Cred: G. Robert Noles, Noles Photography)



(Photo Cred: G. Robert Noles, Noles Photography)


(Photo Cred: G. Robert Noles, Noles Photography)

One year ago, the Opelika Chiefs fell short in the final moments of the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League Championship Game, now they’re just one win away from a trip to New Orleans and a second chance at some hardware. First, they will have to knock off their rival, the No. 1 seed Prattville Patriots, this weekend on the road.

“We just have to play our game and not worry about anybody else,” Chiefs head coach Hunter Price told Developmental Football USA. “That’s the main thing, at the end of the day. We’ve got to eliminate mistakes and play better in the second half.”

One year ago, the Opelika Chiefs fell short in the final moments of the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League Championship Game, now they’re just one win away from a trip to New Orleans and a second chance at some hardware. First, they will have to knock off their rival, the No. 1 seed Prattville Patriots, this weekend on the road.

“We just have to play our game and not worry about anybody else,” Chiefs head coach Hunter Price told Developmental Football USA. “That’s the main thing, at the end of the day. We’ve got to eliminate mistakes and play better in the second half.”

The Patriots handed the Chiefs their only loss of the year, 29-28, which is the Chiefs only regular season loss in program history and just their second loss ever. Overall the Chiefs boast a 33-2 all-time record and the two losses have come by a combined four points.

“That loss helped us throughout this year to understand what we need to get better at,” Price said. “At the end of the day, we can’t worry about anybody else, we just have to do our job and do our part.”

A return trip to the championship game to face the winner of the Mississippi Dynasty and Hiawayi Robinson Falcons would be sweet for the Chiefs, but a redemptive win this weekend against a team just up the road from them to punch their ticket to New Orleans would be pretty sweet in and of itself.

“We’ve got some guys that played for them and they’ve got some guys that played for us,” Price said. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to worry about the Chiefs.”

“We put our best 11 on the field, you put your best 11 on the field and we’ll see what happens. They’re going to watch film on us and we’re going to watch film on them. We just have to do our job, whatever that may be. That’s all we can do. That’s how good teams get beat, they focus too much on someone else and they get complacent.”

The Chiefs lost standout running back and leading rusher Latrell Jenkins towards the end of the year, but their deep, talented roster has helped them plug guys in and to keep their offensive machine running.

“We’ve had a lot of guys step up like T.J. Griffin and Mike Eiland to help carry us offensively and they’ve been a big part of our offense,” Price said. “Of course Kyle Caldwell, our quarterback. At the end of the day, he’s the best quarterback in the league and I don’t care what anybody says about that. We put the pieces together and we’re really just playing ourselves at the end of the day.”

Defensively, many players’ contributions to one of the league’s top defenses – which shut out the Georgia Cardinals 38-0 last weekend to advance to the semifinals – have not gone unnoticed.

“Jamal Alford, No. 90, has been big for us,” Price said. “Jamar Travis, Greg Moss, across the board. Linebacker Isaiah Pierson, No. 37, has been big. Our newcomer, No. 15, Vashon Landers, he’s come on and helped us quite a bit throughout the season. He was a pick up in the summer and that helped us a bunch at defensive back and Tony Askew coming back helped us a bunch as well.”

Many teams at the developmental level just make a half-year commitment between the season and the few months leading up to it, but for most teams that get the type of results the Chiefs get, it’s a full-time job.

“We work year round,” Price said. “Coach J.D. Atkins, our offensive coordinator, does most of our recruiting and he recruits year round, all year long to try to build the team that we have. We’ve always done that, we don’t just go out and try to combine teams to make it what it is.

“Our goal is not to go out and join teams to try to win football games, our goal is to recruit guys and get them to the next level, whatever level that may be.”

Players drive from all around the area to play for Opelika, from places like Columbus and Atlanta, Ga., and Montgomery, among others, to make it to practice every Wednesday.

“Our goal is to recruit guys here and then try to get them to the next level, whatever level that may be, whether it be college, arena ball, or pro ball,” Price said. “We get them film and try to get them where they want to go if possible.”

Former Chiefs wide receiver Tracy Brooks was previously picked up by the Salina Liberty of Champions Indoor Football and went on to become a Rookie of the Year, Price said.

“Raymond Graham recently got offered a scholarship and signed with Faulkner,” Price said. “We talk to 10 or 15 coaches a day. At the end of the day, if we get a guy to any school where school is paid for, I think we’ve done our job. You can have everything in life you want, if you’ll just help enough people get what they want.”

While the Chiefs program is much bigger than just wins and losses, a win this weekend is the only thing they’re concerned about for the next 48 hours.

“If we’re fortunate enough to do our job this week and move on, then we’ll start watching film on Sunday,” Price said. “That’s about all I can say about that game. That’s one of the reasons we fell short in the game earlier this season was because we were worried about somebody else and we need to worry about the Chiefs. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”

*Article reprinted from DFUSA.net

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