ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Desert Hawks eager to get season started

West Texas Desert Hawks head coach Chris Siegfried, left, and owner Zack Bugg, center, and the team’s mascot sit during a press conference Friday at Ector County Coliseum. Michael Bauer|Odessa American

A new era will dawn on the West Texas Desert Hawks when the team plays its first season in the Arena Football League.

Previously, the team competed in the National Arena League in 2023 and the Arena Football Association in 2021 and ‘22.

The Desert Hawks’ season opener will take place against the Georgia Force at noon April 28 at the Ector County Coliseum.

Head coach Chris Siegfried and players talked to reporters during a media day session Friday at Ector County Coliseum.

“I’m excited to get back on the field,” Siegfried said. “I go back and review some old game film and get in the mental swing of things. I’m excited for these guys. I’m excited of what we have as an organization to create something special. Next Sunday couldn’t get here any sooner,` but we have a lot of work to do. Now that camp is winding down, we’re going to be fine-tuning things of how we’re going to play on game day.”

Siegfried said one of the keys to this year’s team is the veteran leadership.

“We have great leaders from the quarterbacks to the kicker,” Siegfried said. “We have two great quarterbacks and both of them are award-winning quarterbacks. We’re surrounding them with talented receivers. It makes for a great team.”

The Arena Football League logo is on display at midfield Friday at the Ector County Coliseum. The West Texas Desert Hawks will be competing in the AFL this season. Michael Bauer|Odessa American

He talked more about the team’s offensive and defensive lines.

“One of the things we’ve been focusing on since day one is the line,” Siegfried said. “I went after what I think are the two best pass-rushers and was fortunate enough to convince these guys to come here. For me, it all starts up front. No matter how good we are at receiver at defensive backs, if we don’t have a good line, we’re not going to be successful. It’s going to be a challenge for other teams. They’re not going to have a lot of time to throw the ball and I think our guys up front will give us enough time to throw the ball. It’s going to be fun.”

Chris McCollum and Jonathan Bane are the two quarterbacks on this year’s team.

A starter has not been announced yet.

“I’m very excited for this season,” McCollum said who’s from Spokane, Wash. “It’s great when you get a call to come play football. I’ve been at it for a while but for them to even consider me to come here and be a leader. I’m blessed and thankful for this opportunity.”

Bane echoed those thoughts.

“Man, I’m juiced,” Bane said, who is from Temple. “It’s my tenth year being around the arena football game and I’m excited. Being a Texas boy and being able to stay here in this state and have family come and watch is huge.”

The West Texas Desert Hawks endzone Friday at Ector County Coliseum. Michael Bauer|Odessa American

The team has been busy with camp for the past three weeks now.

“Camp has been hectic,” McCollum said. “It’s time to get over this grind and hit somebody else. It’s been good competition. I think we’ve got a good roster but we’re ready to go after somebody else’s tail.”

Bane is confident of the players on this year’s roster.

“Our roster is loaded at every position,” Bane said. “We have a lot of good guys that can play. It’s very competitive. We’re trying to get the small details right and put together a good team that people out here can be proud of.”