Over the last five years, the Fayetteville Commandos have established themselves as a team not to be overlooked on the East Coast. With the 2017 National Developmental Football League playoffs starting this weekend, they’re looking to take things to the next level.
“This is our fourth 8-2 season in five years,” Commandos owner Alan Caudell told Developmental Football USA. “So far, we’ve only have one playoff win on our record, so we’re focused and getting ready to turn that around this season.”
On Saturday, Fayetteville is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness when they host the East Carolina Rams in a first-round, win-or-go-home game. The Commandos beat the Rams 28-8 in Week 7, so the Rams will be looking for payback.
“It should be a pretty good match-up,” Caudell said. “They have some players that used to play with us. They were the two-time defending champions with a different league and we’ve played each other just about two times every season since they’ve been around. This is their fourth season. Their first season, we beat them both times, the next year they beat us both time and last year we only played once and they won.”
This weekend, the Commandos look to relive one of the season’s greatest memories and grab another victory over their rival.
“The biggest win this year was the one over the Rams, after not beating them for a couple of seasons, so that was a relief afterwards,” Caudell said. “We played the East Carolina Sharks in Week 9 and that was the first time we beat them at their place since 2013, so that was a good one too.”
Offensively, quarterback Ryan Bach has led the charge in the Commandos high-octane passing attack and he’ll look to continue putting up his numbers this weekend.
“He’s been throwing the majority of our touchdowns and leading the offense,” Caudell said. “Most of them have been to our two receivers that are our go to guys, Brian Carpenter and Cristo Rogers.”
Defensively, second-year cornerback Ty Hale has really made his presence felt in the Commandos’ secondary.
“He’s really come on this year,” Caudell said. “I want to say he has at least 10 interceptions. He has two games with three interceptions so far this year and I think he has two touchdowns off of them so far as well.
“Linebacker Malcolm Ingram and Tristan Jacobs have held down the linebacking core for us. Also, one of the biggest keys in our defensive line is Ken Brown. He plays end and nose tackle. He’s been a leader and has played probably about 95 percent of the snaps on defense which is by far the most.”
In a league like the NDFL, every round has the potential for some surprises, so Fayetteville is not looking past East Carolina.
“Right now we need to get past the next round,” Caudell said. “Then, the next round is either the Vipers – they are one of our losses this year, they beat us 44-42 – or potentially the Rebels. The Rebels have already beat the Vipers this year and the Rebels are the team that knocked us out of the playoffs last year. This league, being new to us, a lot of the teams are a wildcard, we’re not too familiar with them but we’re obviously not going to take anybody lightly.
“Tuesday, we had probably our most productive practice we’ve had all year. Out of the 55 active guys we have, we had probably 40 of them at practice.”