The Leander Wolfpack represent the heart of Texas, and now in just their second season of existence, the team — and it’s ownership — are looking to develop as part of the Texas United Football Association.
Last season the Wolfpack played in the Crossroads Amateur Football League, but according to team co-owner Mark Rogers, the TUFA offered a great fit, despite some traveling challenges.
“The league change for us was all about a fit for our core values and just good character,” he told Developmental Football USA. “Initially we will probably have a couple more long trips than we would have, but at any level, how many people play games near their own town in a professional or semiprofessional level?”
Last season in the CRAFL, the Wolfpack finished 6-4 and 6-2 in their own division. This was despite losing their starting quarterback after a 3-0 start, and of course, the fact that it was their first year as a team.
“Any time you lose a starter is one thing but when you lose your starting quarterback it’s a whole new ball game,” Rogers explained.
So far this season, hope abounds for Leander.
“We’re very young still but we’ve been able to have a few guys return for us this year from last year’s inaugural season and we picked up some good quality recruits in the off season, so we’re excited about the opportunities we’ve got moving forward,” the co-owner said.
Leander is young, but they do return a few captains from last season’s squad and the team does have talent.
Running back Eddie Bailey is a tough, fast runner for the Wolfpack and wideout Nick Jackson, a returning captain, has flashed some great speed on the field. He played college football at Tennessee State and is undoubtedly a leader for the Wolfpack.
Devin Boynton is a standout defender for Leander after playing wide receiver for the first few seasons of his post high school career. He switched to defense in 2018 and ended up making the all-star game as a representative for Leander after a 10 interception season, which led the league. It was a ten game season, keep in mind.
Deondrae Ramos is also a player worth noting. He was the team MVP last year and a returning captain at outside linebacker. He’s both a leader of the Wolfpack defense and the team as a whole.
“That’s one thing we like to hang our hat on, these guys want to be leaders and we let them do it. There are a couple guys you look and think it could be any day before this guy gets a phone call and that opportunity,” Rogers said
“We’re very blessed to be where we’re at with a good group of guys that are accountable to each other. They have the desire to not want to be semi-professional. We all know it’s semipro, but these guys want to wake up on Sunday morning and have our community be proud of us and proud of how everything is handled.”
“If we win a few ball games, that’s even better”
Having a good TUFA season will help Leander continue to put out a team that the community will be proud of. Being near several big-time high school football powers, such as Cedar Park, Lake Travis, and Austin Westlake, will be a benefit as well.
The Wolfpack know that and they’re putting an emphasis on recruiting and maintaining a good pipeline with players coming out of high school.
“It does help having success at the high school level. We’ve got roughly five guys that are one year removed from high school that are very talented and will contribute to our success,” Rogers said. “If there are guys that need extra film or an extra look, that’s our goal. We want to develop guys, whether they develop for the next season or get an opportunity to play somewhere and continue to improve their skills to hopefully one day get picked up by someone that may offer them a paycheck to play.”
Established in 2009, the TUFA is a solid football league with plenty of talent, and that’s something the Wolfpack are going to find out right away. They’re slated to play the defending league champions, the San Antonio Titans, to kick things off.
For Leander, you couldn’t really ask for a tougher test.
Rogers noted that his team is basically going into this match-up blindfolded, with YouTube links sent to the team for scouting purposes already gone and in the wind.
“They definitely know what they’re doing over there. You don’t win a championship and not know what you’re doing,” he said.
Rogers admitted that it’s a tough draw for Leander, but don’t expect the Wolfpack to back down.
“It’s a great opportunity for our team. I hate that we drew them first because there’s a lot of unknown, but I’ve heard their fast, and hopefully we can execute our schemes and at the end of the day it’s an opportunity,” he opined. “We’re not just opening up against the defending champions, but we’re opening up against them at their
Is a potential upset in order? That remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: Rogers, who owns the team along with Donivan Hodge and Sean Duffenbach, will be happy to see his team compete.
“When we decided to start the Wolfpack our intentions were to put a competitive product on the field, win or lose, and be competitive in each game…have something that we can be proud of and our community can be proud of for a long time,” he said. “We’re happy to be in the Leander community and hopefully we can keep this ship rolling for a few years.”