With Saturday’s win, the Lubbock Liberty Eagles have clinched the RGFL East and home-field advantage
The Lubbock Liberty Eagles ended their first ever regular season with an exclamation point on Saturday by knocking off the only Rio Grande Football League team that’s beaten them – the West Texas Scorpions – to clinch the RGFL East Division and home-field advantage for the playoffs.
Early in the second half, the Eagles held a narrow 18-12 lead before they opened up the floodgates and rolled to a 52-12 victory.
“We faced some adversity, it was a close ball game,” Eagles owner Brylon Bradford told Developmental Football USA. “Like I said earlier, us losing to them earlier this season was probably the worst thing that could happen to them.”
The Scorpions had previously beaten the Eagles 44-42 in Novice, Texas, to hand Lubbock Liberty its only regular season loss so far. On Saturday, while in the middle of another close game, instead of pointing fingers at each other, the Eagles dug down deep and dug their way out.
“We faced some adversity and we remembered this is what happened to us last game,” Bradford said. “This is why they had the chance they had last game and this is why they won last game. We stopped it right there and nipped it in the butt.”
This season marks the first time a Lubbock developmental team has won their division in the regular season since the Lubbock Renegades finished their 2006 campaign at 10-1 and West Texas Football League Champions.
“It’s tremendous, it’s the biggest thing you can have here,” Bradford said. “This has been a history-making season. Sweeping the West Texas Drillers, history made right there. Shutting out the Drillers, history made right there. We’re the No. 1 offense in our league, we’re the No. 1 team in our league, and we’ve got the best record in our league. Everything is history when you’re talking Lubbock amateur football.”
In a game that showcased the depth and the amount of talent Lubbock Liberty has at its disposal, cornerback Lamar Evans stood out defensively with three interceptions, while former Texas Tech wide receiver Marcus Kennard hauled in two jump balls for touchdowns on offense.
“This is going to help change the perspective of Lubbock developmental football,” Bradford said. “In Lubbock, it’s extremely difficult. Getting a field is hard, getting community support is hard because previous owners, previous teams and previous players have burned bridges. It’s been an uphill battle for us, but going uphill while still being successful has brought a positive light to developmental football in this area.”
While a regular season division title is certainly a sign that Lubbock developmental football is headed in the right direction, the 2007 New England Patriots can tell you that what matters most is what happens in the post-season.
This Saturday, the Scorpions host the Drillers in their final regular season game and the winner gets other chance to travel to Lubbock to play the Eagles in the playoffs, for a ticket to the RGFL Championship Game.
Having to face either of those teams again, which have a history of deep playoff runs, Bradford knows his team’s biggest games are still ahead of them.
“Either one of them is going to be tough because they have so much to prove,” Bradford said. “With them having the long tenure and the reputation and just being around for so long, they’re all going to make a big time deal of, ‘Let’s make this happen, let’s beat them.’ Either one of them are going to be tough, so I don’t really prefer either one. We’ll have to prepare for both to come with everything they’ve got.”
The winner of the Eagles playoff game versus the Drillers or Scorpions will get to face the toughest team from the West Division, which as of late has been a bit of a question mark. The Otero Desert Dawgs started the season 7-0, but dropped games to both the Las Cruces Kings and the El Paso Armor these past two weeks, so it’ll be an interesting race to watch.
“I believe there’s still one more week to decide who makes it in,” Bradford said. “Right now, if you ask me, it’s the Armor and the Dawgs and the Dawgs would still have home-field advantage.”
Depending on what teams make it in, the site for the RGFL Championship Game could change to reduce the amount of travel for each team.
“Right now it’s scheduled to be played in El Paso, but they’re talking to some mid-way points about rescheduling,” Bradford said. “Carlsbad, Artesia, and Hobbs are some that have been mentioned. We would prefer for it to be a mid-way point, compared to El Paso, but we’re preparing ourselves to travel to El Paso for a championship game if we need to.”
Anything can happen in the playoffs and this year’s RGFL race is shaping up to be a very good one.