When talking about some of the top developmental football programs around the country, the Kansas City Bulldogs is a team that always finds its way into the conversation. This season, the 2016 Midwest Football Alliance Champions are looking to defend their title against what looks like an even deeper league than one year ago.
“I think we’re on track this year,” Bulldogs owner Tyrone Groves told Developmental Football USA. “We’re a lot more focused this year at this time than we were last year at this time. I think we’re a lot stronger mentally, as far as being down and things like that. We only lost three games (last year), so there have not been a lot of times where we were in a situation, losing a game.
“Last year, I think us losing three games helped us to keep playing and not lose our head when we were down, we would just come back and get the win. That helped us last year in the game against the St. Paul Pioneers, we were up, then they came back and then we came back.”
Last year the Bulldogs lost to fellow MFA powers, the Des Moines Blaze and the Sioux City Stampede during the regular season. Instead of getting discouraged, they regrouped with a 16-14 win over the nationally known St. Paul Pioneers of the Northern Elite Football League, then returned the favor when it mattered most by knocking the Blaze out of the semifinals and defeating the Stampede in the MFA Championship Game.
Their 9-3 record wasn’t as flashy as an undefeated season – and percentage wise, was only good for third best in their own league – but the Bulldogs won the games that mattered most and they look to do the same during the remainder of their 2017 schedule.
“We’re not too much worried about losing or being down,” Groves said. “We’re just playing football and I think that’s going to help us as far as a championship run this year, as far as trying to go back to back.”
During the month of June, the 2017 Bulldogs will find out exactly what they’re made of.
Saturday, they’re on the road against the Des Moines Blaze, then they have a week off, before hosting the Pioneers in a non-league game and finishing out the month with a road trip to Sioux City on June 24.
“I think the No. 1 threat will be the runners up from last year, the Sioux City Stampede,” Groves said. “We have a game with them this year, that’s going to be a huge game for us. As always, the Des Moines Blaze, we’ll be going to play them in Des Moines. They won the league the first five years of the existence of the league. We lost to them our first year in the league championship, so that’s always going to be a big game, a pseudo-rivalry. We also have the St. Paul Pioneers, they won the NEFL like seven times.”
Kansas City will then close out its regular season schedule at home on July 15 against the Omaha Stockmen.
“From all accounts, it seems they’ve really improved this year,” Groves said. “All of our remaining games will be tough, but we’ve just got to stay focused and do what we do.”
Offensively, dual-threat quarterback Josh White has led the charge for the Bulldogs and has accounted for 873 yards of offense and 10 touchdowns already on the young season.
“He came onto the team late last year,” Groves said. “We had both of our starting quarterbacks get hurt and he came on late to the team last year. He’s a dual threat quarterback, has a rocket of an arm and can run. A lot of the offense centers around him because of what he can do through the air and on the ground. We like to pound the ball and get the passing game on track to help facilitate the run.”
White has a talented receiving core to throw the ball to, led by Deshawn Hammond.
“He won a national championship with Butler Community College when he played there,” Groves said. “It’s led by him and we’ve got a lot of guys around him, including Douglas White, who played at Ottawa University.”
Kansas City is strong all around on defense and is led by strong safety Dorsey Golston III and defensive end Demetrios Walker.
“Dorsey is one guy that played a high level of football,” Groves said. “He played at the University of Wyoming and he played indoor ball for a number of years. He’s also the DB coach this year for the Kansas City Phantom arena team. He’s our starting strong safety and he’s definitely one of the leaders of the defense and the whole team
“Walker has NFL experience. He played with the Chiefs for a short while. He went to Middle Tennessee State and he anchors the defensive line. Those are two guys that are our leaders on defense.
The Bulldogs started the season off with a game against the nationally known Colorado Greyhawks, which resulted in a 28-6 loss. Since then, they’ve outscored opponents 203-18 and have strung together four consecutive wins.
“We pride ourselves on playing whoever,” Groves said. “Within reason, we try to play whatever teams we can that are going to be competition. We always want to play competition and have the toughest schedule, so if anybody looks at who has the toughest schedule in the country they’ll see the Bulldogs have a tough schedule every year. That’s the reputation we want.”
Not backing down from a challenge is just another quality of an impressive list of traits that define the Bulldogs organization.
“I always tell everybody, I don’t want to just have a team, I want to have a program,” Groves said. “Not just a team or an organization, I want to have a program. The whole idea of even moving the team to 11-man was to have a place for guys that really want to play a high level of football, have practices, scout other opponents, have coaches and have the whole experience of high school football or college. That’s the whole reason we put the team together was to provide that whole outlet for guys that want to play football, but not just show up on Saturday and play and that’s it.
“That was the whole rationale for starting a team. Moving forward, we’ll just continue to go down that road. Every year, we step it up more and more. Now, we get to practice on our game field, we have turf and lights. We have hudl and all the stuff with that. We have team trainers, chiropractors, and masseuses. We film practice from the endzone angle and side angle. We’re really utilizing all the tools we can get. The vision is to keep moving forward and striving to make it a more and more legit football program and not just a team.”