The Lubbock Liberty Eagles went on a business trip to El Paso on Saturday to play in the Rio Grande Football League Championship Game against the Otero Desert Dawgs and after a 48-15 win, they’re headed home with some hardware.
“What I’ve been saying all season is that there is power in numbers,” Eagles owner Brylon Bradford told Developmental Football USA. “Our sideline was so packed, it wasn’t even funny. We were excited, it was fun, everyone was enjoying themselves. It was fun, no fighting, no bickering. It was the ultimate team experience and anytime we do that, that’s going to be the result.”
Head coach Charles Luster and his staff helped the team put together the right game plan as the Eagles soared out to a 22-7 halftime lead.
“They prepared us, they knew exactly what they were going to do,” Bradford said. “They told us exactly what they were going to do and they ensured that we came into the game one step ahead, automatically. They called what needed to be called and the first play of the game went for a touchdown. We seen it, we executed it, touchdown, first play of the game.”
Quarterback Lazarus Perez threw two touchdowns to wide receiver Devonte Mathis and another to Jabari Parker and also added one on the ground for the Eagles. Shamodrick Atkins and Dustin Robinson also scored for Lubbock Liberty.
“It was a complete team effort,” Bradford said. “After the game was really something, it was fun. It was a fun day and this weekend was fun in general.”
The Desert Dawgs started out 7-0 in Rio Grande Football League play, but dropped games to the Las Cruces Kings and El Paso Armor late in the season. In the playoffs, however, they squeaked by the Armor 14-13 to advance to the RGFL Championship Game.
Lubbock Liberty dropped a road game mid-season, 44-42, to the West Texas Scorpions, but returned the favor at home with a convincing win over the Scorpions, then defeated the West Texas Drillers for the third time this season, 28-26, to advance to the championship.
“It goes back to the numbers,” Bradford said. “The Dawgs kept it close for a portion of the game and then they got wore down and they had a few injuries. We just had more guys and we were bigger and faster. It was a good game, they were exactly who we thought they were. They were a team that was going to fight to the end, give us their best and give it their all.”
The Eagles championship win marks the first one for a Lubbock-area developmental team in 11 years, dating back to 2006 when the Lubbock Renegades won the West Texas Football League and finished 10-1.
“We grew a lot as a team,” Bradford said. “One year, one ring. I can’t even begin to say how excited I am.
“Basically this year was learning on the go. Learning how to keep our composure, Learning how to communicate with each other. Not just talk, but communicate appropriately. Learning little things like that, now we got it down and this is going to be the result every time. We had a close game last week against the Drillers, but because we kept our head, we got out with a win. This game was a blow out.”
With the 2017 RGFL season now in the books, the Eagles are open to challenges from other league champions from the area.
Also on Saturday, the Texas Xtreme of Austin finished a perfect 13-0 season with a 22-14 win over the Texas Red Raiders to win the Texas United Football Association and the DeSoto Tarantulas knocked off the defending Texas United Football League Champions, the North Texas Mustangs, 29-24 to win the crown. Last month, the Houston Ducks won the Dynamic Texas Football Association with a 15-12 win over the Texas Spartans.
“We’re going to see what kind of offers we get as far as playing other champions,” Bradford said. “You hear a lot of people say our league was weaker and that’s why we became something like we did, but it wasn’t. If you think you’re that much better, all you can do is line up and play us. Home or away, it doesn’t matter. We’re serious about it. We’ve told everybody that before and we’ll continue to tell everybody. If another champion wants some work, let’s make it happen, let’s play.
“Doc Holiday is one of my favorite characters on tombstone and one of my favorite sayings is, ‘Say When.’ We can set it up and make it happen.”
Lubbock Liberty would like to thank their sponsors: Bodyworks, Elite Steam Carpet Cleaning, Five Star Lawn Care, Buffalo Wild Wings, Play It Again Sports, ABC Bank, Durham, Courtyard-Marriott Hotel, Signs on the Go and Lubbock Christian High School for making their championship season possible.
“We wouldn’t be anywhere without those guys,” Bradford said.