Omaha Beef, new ownership, new coach, new uniforms, same winning attitude
04/02/03 NIFL Fan Article by Andrew Hoyle
There have been plenty of changes to the Omaha Beef for the 2003 season. Ownership of the team has transferred from Judy Klimschot, wife of the late team owner/founder Jim Klimschot, to Heartland Sports Enterprises, a limited liability corporation headed by Harlan and Jay Noddle; whether Harlan and Jay get the "nod" of acceptance from die-hard Beef fans or turn into wet noodles remains to be seen. The Beef have had only one head coach in their four-year existence--until now. Fan favorite and much beloved head coach Sandy Buda is out, and 2002 Pacific Conference Coach of the Year Collins Sanders is in. Sanders led the Bismarck Roughriders to the NIFL championship game last year, to include a 69-40 playoff pounding of the Beef. It's going to take a whole lot of wins for Beef fans to welcome Sanders with open arms and forget about the past. Even the drab brown and orange uniforms and logos of previous years have been updated to a more modern, and menacing, look and color scheme. But one thing hasn't changed: the fact that the Beef will put one of the most complete and talented teams in the NIFL on the field for each and every game.
The offense is led by the experienced, if aging, quarterback Troy Travis, a 6-3, 230# Omaha native and graduate of Middle Tennessee State. Should Travis prove ineffective at any time, 6-3, 230# Dallas Widmark, out of Scottsdale Community College, could step in and run the controls. A stable of running backs returns, starting with fan favorite Clinton Childs (6-2, 225#, University of Nebraska-Lincoln). LeAndre Moore (5-9, 210#, Ball State) and Prescott Hill (5-11, 195#, Kansas Wesleyan) also return and will see significant playing time. Speedy wide receivers Herman Gordon (6-2, 205#, Wayne State, NE), Tory Veland (6-1, 210#, Ellsworth Junior College), Josh McIntyre (5-10, 185#, Midland), and "Mr. Versatile" Stephen Lovell (listed at a generous 5-10, 175#, Graceland) all return to duty for the Beef, and are joined by newcomers Jaimey Jones (6-2, 210#, Adams State) and Jesse VonBehren (6-0, 195#, Simpson College). NIFL veteran Tyrone Tyler, formerly of the Lincoln Capitols, also joins the Beef this season. The offensive line looks to be in excellent hands once again, with Dan "Potsie" Potmesil (6-8, 315#, University of Nebraska-Omaha) and Shane "Sitting Bull" Billedeaux (6-4, 325#, Walla Walla Junior College) returning. These big eaters are joined by Juan Parra (6-4, 315#, University of Louisiana, Monroe), Ricardo Allen (6-4, 340#, Mississippi Valley State), and Nebraska native Brett Wetton (6-8, 325#, University of Nebraska-Kearney) to make a truly "Beefy" o-line.
The defense looks to be truly intimidating this year, starting with the NIFL's Defensive MVP of 2002, Dwayne Harris (6-3, 300#, University of Nebraska-Lincoln). Joining Harris on the d-line this year is Omaha native and Beef veteran Richard "Big Sexy" Johnson (6-4, 285#, University of Missouri). Along with Beef veteran Damien Bauman (6-3, 300#, University of Nebraska-Lincoln), these guys should be the best run-stoppers and pass rushers in the NIFL this season. The only returning linebacker for the Beef is Cale Good (6-2, 225#, University of Nebraska-Omaha), but recent signees Abrian "Sto" Stovall (6-0, 235#, University of Nebraska-Omaha) and Terrell Spears (6-1, 230#, University of Nebraska-Omaha) will help fill the gaps, along with NIFL veteran Matt Hughes (6-4, 255#, University of Iowa), formerly of the Sioux City Bandits. Plenty of defensive backs return for the Beef, to include Pat Davis (5-10, 185#, University of Nebraska-Omaha), Mike Leach (6-1, 210#, Northeast Oklahoma), and the Jones twins-twins in initials, height, and weight only. Both are 6-0, 185#, but Deondre went to the University of South Dakota, while Dontae went to Morningside.
Kicking duties have gone to former Lincoln Capitol and Nebraska Cornhusker Chase Long. Opposing kicking teams will once again get a healthy dose of Stephen Lovell as a kick returner, who will also act as placeholder on kick attempts.
The Beef have the talent, the drive, and the will to bring the NIFL championship to Omaha; all it's going to take is to play out the games and see what happens. Sometimes, it's a good thing to take the first few weeks as byes, as the Beef did to start the season. It gave them a chance to watch the Lincoln Capitols blow their first game of the season to the expansion (or renamed, whichever you prefer) Show Me Believers, who happened to be the Beef's first opponent. It's always nice to watch somebody else play a mystery team first, and possibly learn from their mistakes. The Believers were believers, though, and gave the Beef a good run for their money, before going down 58-55. "If you would have told me before tonight that anybody would score 55 points on us I would have said 'no way'," quipped head coach Collins Sanders after the game. Omaha, with one road victory under its belt, is halfway to their season total for last year…..and the defense is breathing a sigh of relief. Right until practice this week…….
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