Valley News -

By Jeff Pack
Writer 

Semi-professional football team embarks on second season

 

Last updated 8/9/2018 at 3:39pm

Jeff Pack

Southern California Warriors head coach Marco Flores addresses the team before practicing at Patricia H. Birdsall Park in Temecula.

Everyone knows those armchair quarterbacks out there who shout at the television screen on Saturdays and Sundays about how they still have what it takes to strap on the pads and do battle on the gridiron.

Well, if they live anywhere near southwest Riverside County, point them in the direction of the Southern California Warriors, a semi-professional, full-contact football team that practices in Temecula and plays its home games at Heritage High School.

The Warriors are getting ready to start their second season in the Pacific Coast Football Conference and will play a 10-game season against teams from all over Southern California.

Part owner and team head coach Marco Flores grew up in Fallbrook and started playing with the now-defunct Valley Predators a few years ago. In 2013, he served as the president of the team and did so until its demise in 2016. Then Flores, along with owners Okalani and Leticia Taufahema, established the Warriors.

But why?

"I got involved for the love of the game," Flores said. "I think some guys that never really got a shot to play high school or college still want to play, and some players say this is their NFL."

Right tackle Dennis Rollins stands about 6 feet 7 inches and weighs more than 300 pounds. He has been playing semi-pro football for about four years.

"The thing that keeps me coming back is the love of the game," Rollins, a 32-year-old Menifee resident, said.. "I want to try to represent for the home team."

Competing with teammates in a game situation is different from most everything else they can do in their life, Rollins said, and he savors those experiences.

"My favorite thing about football is the cohesion and skills you learn while working hard with others who are like-minded in achieving a common goal," he said. "While getting some physical fitness in at same time."

Last year, the Warriors finished the season with a 7-6-1 record, finished 6-4 in league and just missed advancing to the finals in losing to the Hi Desert Phoenix, which went on to win the PCFC title.

In addition to Rollins, the Warriors returners include safety Kai Tuione, quarterback Kadell Washington, tailback Kal Edwards, receivers DeShawn Brunt Sr., Ricky Burton and Julian Massiah, linebacker Josiah Flores, safety Devon Walker and fullback and linebacker Kevin Ellison.

At 32 years old, Ellison relishes the opportunity to play again.

"(I would like to) win a championship for the city of Temecula," he said. "I have been playing with a lot of these guys for the past seven seasons, and they make it hard for me to play with anyone else."

For Ellison, football is a lifelong love.

"As a kid, football kept me out of trouble and off of the streets," he said. "When I was introduced to me, it became a love that literally took over my life. Football is a like a second home and a brief getaway from reality."

According to Flores, the organization was started "to help young men in our community that are 18 and up and want to become contributors to our society, whether it be helping with youth football or helping each other with life decisions."

Joining Flores on the coaching staff are defensive coordinator Joseph Gibbs, offensive coordinator Mike Tucker, and assistant offensive coordinator Jacob Chase. They all double as position coaches.

Even though a lot of teams can't practice more than twice a week and it can be difficult to find a space to practice and play, the semi-pro world continues to thrive.

Jeff Pack

Defensive coordinator Joseph Gibbs instructs his front seven during a defensive walk-through.

"I think what is great about semi-pro is that we are a tight family with values and structure, we welcome anyone and everyone," Flores said.

The Warriors are currently looking for sponsors to help offset the cost of signup fees and equipment purchases – the team was formed under as a nonprofit organization.

"At this point of time, we need sponsors, and we need the public's support to come to the games," Flores said. "This year's team is looking really good and looking to get back into the playoffs. This year, we want to get into the championship game and see what happens."

For potential sponsors or players interested in joining the Warriors, visit https://okalani.wixsite.com/mysite for more information.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]

 

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