Photo Courtesy of Paige Henderson Studio
Mobile boasts three semi-pro football teams, including the Mobile Generals, the West Mobile 49ers and the South Alabama Dolphins.
Many people think the only football action taking place in Alabama right now is the latest “I’m not the NFL” league that has put a franchise in Birmingham. However, that could not be further from the truth.
In fact, Mobile boasts three — yes, three — semi-pro teams that are seeing action at this time. Here is a quick glance at the Mobile Generals and the West Mobile 49ers of the Xtreme South Football League (XSFL), along with the South Alabama Dolphins of the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League (APDFL). Each club offers additional details on its Facebook account (@Mobile Generals Semi Pro Football, @The West Mobile 49ers Semi Pro Football Organization, @South Alabama Dolphins Semi Professional and Development Team).
• The Generals are entering their fifth season with Jerome Jones as owner. The team had been a longtime member of the APDFL, but switched leagues in the off-season.
“We had a lot of players retire, so we went to a smaller league to give us time to rebuild,” said Jones, who had planned to hang up his cleats before a tragic event changed his mind.
“This year is very personal for me,” Jones said. “One of our players, Jamal Chambers, was killed during a robbery in December. We have dedicated this season to him.” At the game this Saturday against the Emerald Coast Scorpions, a Generals jersey will be presented to Chambers’ mother during a special ceremony.
The losses did not end there. Johnny Pace, another player, died from a heart attack. “I was going to retire, but I came back for one more year to wear his No. 44 jersey,” said Jones, who is playing at defensive tackle and offensive tackle.
A special guest at Saturday’s game will be Jalston Fowler, a former Vigor star who played for the Alabama Crimson Tide and Tennessee Titans. He will be made an honorary General.
“He is a great role model,” Jones said of Fowler. “He was raised in the projects, but he worked hard and made something of himself. He loves to be an asset in his community. That is what the Mobile Generals are all about.”
Jones said this is one of the best teams with which he’s been involved. Even though they’re young, he and head coach Damen Simon see a lot of potential.
“J.B. Robinson has been with us from the beginning,” Jones said. Tyree Hill plus Bryan and Brandon Samuels are some of the other leaders.
“This team is full of role models,” said Jones, whose squad has adopted Maryvale Elementary in Mobile and Escatawpa Elementary in Mississippi, where players often read to the students. “Our whole agenda is to help the community.”
The final announced home game is April 27 against the Tri-County Bengals at Navco Park. The postponed season opener with West Mobile may still be rescheduled.
• The 49ers are starting their second season under their current name. The team went by the Brookley Field 49ers during their initial two campaigns.
“Things are going smooth so far, considering we have a lot of new guys,” said head coach Eric Reed. “We are teaching them the next level of football.”
Gmyers Walker, who moves between fullback, offensive line and linebacker, has been a member of the team from the start. Ashton Lloyd, who had never played football before, is making a name for himself along the offensive and defensive line. Quarterback Rydarrian Dees, another veteran, has been injured but still comes out to help with the squad.
“We are about unity,” said Reed, who is assisted by Gregory Armstead. “We are getting guys from different parts of Mobile that never knew each other. They are black and white from different neighborhoods. They enjoy the family-like atmosphere.
“Our mission is to keep kids off the streets. A lot of them are straight out of high school. We want to help them get jobs and lead them in the right way. If we do that, we help keep the violence down. If they are at practice, then they don’t get in trouble.”
Zizedeka Reed, reportedly the only female team owner in the state of Alabama, hopes to sponsor a peewee team in the Mobile Youth Football Conference next year. The 49ers would serve as coaches.
The semi-pro team has two more regularly scheduled home games at Cottage Hill Park. The contests will be April 13 against the Redstone Raiders and May 4 with the Mississippi Spartans.
• The Dolphins are the new kids on the block. The core of the squad comes from the Hiawayi Robinson Falcons of Prichard. Head coach James Matthews, who played for the Falcons, said they decided to re-form when some players left.
“We are trying to keep the young men busy and keep them out of trouble,” Matthews said. “The Falcons won four championships when I played, so we look forward to having something to play for at the end of the year.”
The team leaders at this point have been linebackers Bubba Freeze and Mark Gwin. “They have it all together,” Matthews said.
“I really enjoy being with the guys we have on the Dolphins,” he said. “They just love to play the game. They are not getting paid, so they really must want to do it. They get off work and still want to come to practice.”
The team won three straight games after losing its opener. That does not come as a surprise to team owner Bubba Flood.
“Honestly, I expect the trophy and anything less is unacceptable,” he said in an APDFL preseason story. That feature also highlighted quarterback Matt Rowser, receiver John Moffett Jr. plus defensive backs Leroy Rix and Dee Dailey.
The 49ers have two more games at Trimmier Park. The big game is April 6 against two-time defending APDFL champions the Mississippi Dynasty. The final home contest is April 27 versus the Tri-County Venom.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).