Brick by brick and pillar by pillar, the Carolina Spartans are building for their 2020 season in the Independent American Football League.
The 2019 campaign saw the semi-pro football team finish at the bottom of the league, composed of nearly 40 teams from South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
The Spartans have made significant strides in the offseason and general manager Terry Jackson believes a repeat of 2019 is not in the offing.
The Spartans have added two big pieces to the puzzle with new assistant coaches Jarriel King and Alex Bonds.
King played offensive line at North Charleston High School and South Carolina before a brief stint in the National Football League with the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks (2011, 2012). He finished up his professional career with the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders from 2013-16.
He now runs a fitness group in the Charleston area for linemen called Overdrive Academy
“We really tried to recruit him as a player but he said those days are done,” Jackson said. “He wants to coach and we’re OK with that, but once he saw the brotherhood and started to get into the emotional part of it he was joking around he may suit up. I’m going to put him on the roster if that day does come.”
Bonds, who also played some college football and runs a training facility called LyfeFit on Ashley Phosphate Road, will help on the defensive side of the ball and special teams.
“He hit the ground running and has been coaching defense ever since,” Jackson said. “It’s been a 180-degree turn.”
The Spartans have around 30 players practicing on Saturdays at Westview Elementary in Goose Creek. The Spartans will work out every Saturday at 4 p.m. until Nov. 16 before breaking until Jan. 4.
The 2020 season opens in March.
Jackson hopes the player roster will be closer to 50 sooner rather than later.
“It doesn’t matter what their background or specialty is, we can try to find a fit for them,” he said. “We want guys who love the game and want to play for the right reason.”
Players or coaches interested in an opportunity with the Spartans should e-mail Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jackson at (843) 478-8986.
“As of today, we have every position and coordinator position covered but if someone will come talk to us, we’ll make it work,” he said.
The Spartans are also interested in hearing from potential sponsors.
The IAFL completed its second season in June. The Atlanta Metro Horsemen defeated the Sumter Sharks for the 2019 title in Chattanooga’s Finley Stadium.
The Garden City Seahawks from Augusta, Ga., won the first IAFL title in 2018.
The Spartans, who played their home games at Cainhoy Elementary last season, were 1-7. They’ve pursued fields closer to Goose Creek, North Charleston or Summerville.
The Spartans are in the Big 8 South Carolina-Florida region with the Camden Gators, Garden City, Hilton Head Sharks, Sumter Sharks, Savannah Titans, Savannah Raiders and Jacksonville Falcons.
The schedule will be released at a later date. Jackson is optimistic the Spartans will offer up more resistance to IAFL foes in 2020.
Spartans players started organizing their own workouts after last season and have gotten serious about making 2020 a better campaign.
“We’re not going to fly under the radar this year.” Jackson said. “That’s for sure. We’ve already heard from teams they know we’re coming this year. That’s good and bad. I’d prefer for them not to know anything about us and think we’re going to be the same 1-7 team but that’s not going to be the case. They know we’re going to be much improved.”
For more information on the IAFL, visit www.iaflsemipro.com.